Students Offer Feedback on City's Comprehensive Plan

Students shared opinions and suggestions for the City of Ithaca’s new comprehensive plan, a document detailing goals that the city hopes to accomplish in the future, including sustainability, transportation, and economic vitality...

Meeting to Discuss the City of Ithaca's Comprehensive Plan
Meeting to Discuss the City of Ithaca's Comprehensive Plan(Darien Kim / Sun Staff Photographer)

By Stephanie Yan via the Cornell Daily Sun, 4/30/15

Students shared opinions and suggestions for the City of Ithaca’s new comprehensive plan — a document detailing goals that the city hopes to accomplish in the future — at an open house event Tuesday in Mann Library.

The event venue consisted of stations summarizing different subsets of the plan, including sustainability, transportation, economic vitality and public outreach. Attendees discussed details of the plan with event organizers at each station and were given multiple opportunities to provide anonymous feedback.

The comprehensive plan — which has undergone several amendments — has not been revised completely since its adoption in 1971. The plan proposes initiatives ranging from redeveloping downtown areas to encouraging the use of bikes for transportation.

Peter Wissoker grad talked about the economic aspects of the plan, which include job training and ways to strengthen Ithaca’s fiscal health.

“The economic plan talks about a few things, one of which is acknowledging the importance of Cornell, but also suggests ways to strengthen other parts of the economy so that the city isn’t so reliant on Cornell, as well as ways to capture more small business activity,” Wissoker said.

Taru grad, who ran the table on sustainability, said the city has “looked at critical things like [renewable] energy, and the city being completely carbon-neutral.”

Miran Jang grad discussed ways the city plans to encourage public participation in government decisions. One program involves providing translations of documents for foreign students, according to Jang.

“Since the City of Ithaca has a huge student population, including foreign students, the city really wants to engage all the members [of the community],” Jang said. “The goal is to go to the public first, and not wait for the public to come.”

Student opinions will be considered by the comprehensive plan committee as it amends the plan before presenting it to the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board and Common Council, according to Prof. Jennifer Minner, city and regional planning.

The open house was organized by graduate students in Minner’s class, City and Regional Planing 5530: Concepts and Methods of Land Use Planning, who — along with “members of the City of Ithaca’s Comprehensive Plan Committee and city staff” — said they believed it was important to give students a chance to provide feedback on the comprehensive plan.

In addition to compiling student feedback, Minner said her students will conduct analyses of the plan themselves and submit recommendations to the plan committee and planning department staff.

“The students are also applying concepts from the class and using their own professional judgement to analyze each comprehensive plan chapter and draft recommendations to the city,” Minner said.

David Kay ’93, a senior extension associate with the Community and Regional Development Institute in the developmental sociology department, said he hopes the open house will give students one of the infrequent opportunities they have to have their opinions heard.

“One of the reasons that we wanted to do this is that one thing that typically happens around city issues is the younger populations don’t get that involved,” Kay said. “We’re trying to get fresh perspectives from people who don’t usually speak up.”

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