You are here

Planning Board: Public hearing shows questions remain on Ithaca Gun development


The long-waiting redevelopment of the Ithaca Gun site has taken a step forward, albeit a small one, despite the persistence of questions about the site's current and future health.

Revived again over the summer by developer Travis Hyde Properties, the Falls Lake Apartments plan as it stands now is for 74 units of housing for active senior citizens (55 and over) with a housing stock mix of one- and two-bedroom units. The building would be 133,000 square feet total, stand four stories high and the site would contain 80 parking spaces.

Though it's been approached several times, previous attempts at redevelopment have been stymied by the continued contamination of the site, primarily via lead in the soil, a symptom of the site's past as the host of the Ithaca Gun factory.

In terms of clean-up, Travis said the remediation plan submitted by the development team's environmental engineering firm has been accepted by the DEC, and that he would now be looking to fulfill the DEC's routine request that alternative remediation plans be investigated as well. According to Travis, the current remediation includes the removal of 4,000 cubic yards of soil and burial of the rest of the remaining polluted soil.

One resident did come to the scheduled public hearing, and said he was nervous about the site's notorious contamination. He requested a thorough look at the condition of the soil and how well the clean-up process is going stage-by-stage. Beyond that he stated a concern about light pollution emanating from the site. Labor Trades President David Marsh also came forward to lobby for local labor involvement in the construction of the project. Former County Legislator Carol Chock, speaking as a resident, spoke in favor of the choices Travis had made in terms of energy usage. Environmental activist Walter Hang and resident Susie Kramer, who has been vocal during the concurrent Old Library/DeWitt House demolition debate that also involves a Travis-Hyde environmental clean-up controversy, both spoke out in favor of a more comprehensive lead remediation. Hang, in particular, said 10,000 cubic yards of polluted soil should be removed instead of the proposed 4,000.

Other notes from a packed November Planning Board meeting:

  • Maguire Lincoln (which also sells Ford) auto dealership hit quite a bit of resistance while proposing an addition to its 370 Elmira Road location that would allow it to come into modern Ford dealership standards. The Board was not enthused by the lack of green-space and abundance of asphalt, so they'll give it another go next month.
  • Same went for the two new family dwellings at 815-817 North Aurora Street, which might have to undergo some design modifications. The board asked for the proposal to potentially adhere more closely with the surrounding neighborhood, which is mostly single-family homes instead of duplexes.
    Two of the area's biggest projects, Cornell's North Campus Residential Expansion and the mammoth Chainworks District, both appeared before the board as they continue to progress through the planning process, though it's likely more significant updates and decisions on those projects are still on the horizon.
  • There were three new sketch plans introduced. Two by architect Jagat Sharma for rather small-scale developments at 312 East Seneca Street and 114-118 Catherine Street. The latter would include two six-bedroom units on the top floor with one five-bedroom unit on the ground floor, and was presented in conjunction with Nick Lambrou of Lambrou Real Estate. Both are quite early. There was also another residential project presented on Cherry Street, by Vecino Group (different than their Green Street Garage redevelopment proposal). That story is coming as soon as exact numbers are available.