Neighbors petition Tompkins County legislators on plans for old library site

June 7, 2015 by Rachel Cera

The Tompkins County Legislature is meeting Tuesday morning to consider proposals for the site of the old Tompkins County Public Library, and the Dewitt Park Neighborhood Association has started a petition to help focus the discussion.

Concept design for old library site by STREAM Collaborative, from change.org petition.Concept design for old library site by STREAM Collaborative, from change.org petition.In particular, the neighborhood association is urging legislators to remember that they must abide by the existing selection criteria, and that "addition of other criteria (density, low cost housing, etc) is not authorized in the decision-making process."

The Dewitt Park neighborhood, which surrounds the old county library building at the corner of Court Street and Cayuga Street, is a historic residential neighborhood in Downtown Ithaca. The petition stresses that while adding a 20-unit dwelling in an adapted building would be reasonable in such a neighborhood, adding 60 units would be "huge," and "could have an irreversible and negative impact on the area."

"We believe that the adaptive re-use of the building is the best fit in regards to massing and style for this historic neighborhood," says the petition. "Trees and mature plantings are a big part of what makes a neighborhood feel old.  Destroying many of the existing trees in order to build a large complex would do irreparable harm to the historic look & feel of The Dewitt Park Historic District."

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