Legislature will decide on N. Tioga/Sears Street purchase Tuesday

first_imgITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County legislators are poised to vote next week on whether to purchase property on the 400 block of North Tioga Street for $1.8 million with the plan to use the parcels for a new county office building.At a joint session Wednesday, two committees — the Facilities and Infrastructure and the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committees — recommended the county purchase the properties in Fall Creek. The site is close to the present Tompkins County Courthouse and contains a small collection of adjoining tax parcels at 408 and 412-414 N. Tioga St. and 117 and 119 Sears St.The resolution approved by the committees states that the North Tioga property “is the best option for a new office building site where multiple offices could be consolidated at a single location.”At the last Tompkins County Legislature meeting on April 2, Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino presented a feasibility study with 10 possible scenarios for how to use the space. In the options, the office space ranges from 37,000 to 46,000 square feet; 25 to 42 parking spaces; and explores adding housing to the site on Sears Street — something the city and neighbors have requested.Molino said zoning will pose a particular challenge as there are three overlapping zones at the site. Though real estate comes at a premium in central Ithaca, this property likely hasn’t been developed because of the “odd zoning configuration,” he said.“The property is not easily developable with the current zoning arrangement with the different overlaps in the zoning code,” Molino said.View the presentation from April 2 which shows the different scenarios in more detail here.In some of the scenarios presented, the county would add housing on Sears Street. Neighbors to the site, some of whom spoke at Tompkins County Legislature on April 2, said they would like to see owner-occupied housing with parking. Nancy Osborn, who lives in the neighborhood, read a statement April 2 signed by 25 neighbors. “We who are residents and property owners in the Cascadilla Creek neighborhood, which consists of Cascadilla Avenue, Court, Sears, and Tioga streets, would support the Tompkins County Legislature’s proposal to develop the Tioga, Sears Street properties if it includes residential housing on Sears Street with adequate off-street parking and is preferably owner-occupied housing,” Osborn read.A few variations of housing have been explored so far. Some options include three standalone residential houses, another includes five townhomes. In another, the county could construct four residential units in two duplexes or create one single-family home. Two scenarios include no residential housing.The Sears Street side of the parcel. (Devon Magliozzi/The Ithaca Voice)At Common Council on April 3, Alderperson Seph Murtagh introduced a resolution to put the city’s preferences for the Sears/Tioga project on record before the Legislature vote, though Common Council doesn’t have control over what the county does with the site. Common Council urged the county to honor the city’s Comprehensive Plan and respect the character of the neighborhood by “dedicating the entire Sears Street frontage of the county’s proposed office consolidation project site for affordable residential use.”The county is looking to purchase the space and consolidate some offices to save money on leases. The county also wants to prioritize moving the county clerk out of the basement of the Tompkins County Court building which would free up space to relocate the district attorney’s office and cramped grand jury room and make space for a third judge in the court building. In presenting the feasibility study, Molino said other county offices and buildings have inefficient layouts and are overcrowded. Another issue is that several public-facing departments are not located in a single location, so moving them to one space would make it easier for people who need to visit multiple departments.On Tuesday, April 16, the full Tompkins County Legislature will vote on the purchase at the regular Tompkins County Legislature meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m. Legislators will not be voting on which scenario to choose, only whether to purchase the properties.Featured image: The Tioga Street side of the property (Devon Magliozzi/Ithaca Voice) Kelsey O’Connor center_img Your government news is made possible with support from: Tagged: ithaca, sears street, tioga street, tompkins county, tompkins county legislature Kelsey O’Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor. More by Kelsey O’Connorlast_img read more