Highlights of the February 5, 2002 meeting of the
Tompkins County Board of Representatives
The Board is looking at making a deal with the New York State Commission of Corrections that commits the County to a construction project at the County jail in 2004. Temporary variances at the Warren Road facility have allowed the County to house more than the legal capacity. A contingent from the County will go to Albany on March 19 to request a two-year extension of the variances, in return for the County’s commitment to remodel or expand the jail at the end of that time period. In two years, the County should be able to measure the success of its various Alternatives to Incarceration programs, while simultaneously studying design changes at the jail, said Board Chair Tim Joseph. The variances – which date from 1996 and 1998 and have been renewed several times – have allowed the County to exceed the legal capacity of 72 inmates to a maximum of 103. Contact: Board of Representatives Chair Tim Joseph, 274-5434, 277-2519.

Ithaca Town Supervisor Cathy Valentino was the first in what may be a long line of municipal leaders who have been invited to address the Board of Representatives as a regular part of the agenda. Board Chair Tim Joseph said he hoped that other supervisors and mayors will take advantage of the Board’s invitation. He thanked Valentino for gathering approval from her colleagues in other towns and villages. “For our part, we promise to respond to any issues municipal officials bring to us,” said Joseph. Valentino brought the Board a eucalyptus branch (the florist didn’t have an olive branch, she said), tied with a yellow ribbon symbolizing friendship. Valentino focused on planning as an area of mutual interest, and she proposed a temporary intermunicipal committee to investigate what a more permanent group might be able to accomplish. She also proposed starting talks about possibly shifting some highway responsibilities from the County to the towns, and examining the role of town representatives on County advisory boards. Contact: Board of Representatives Chair Tim Joseph, 274- 5434, 277-2519; Ithaca Town Supervisor Cathy Valentino, 273-1721, 272-5214.

The Board agreed unanimously to share in the annual cost of youth recreation programs sponsored by the Recreation Partnership. The Partnership’s 2002 budget of $190,550 will be paid one-quarter by the County, one-quarter by the City of Ithaca, and one-quarter by the Town of Ithaca. The remainder of the cost is shared among the other participating municipalities, which are the Towns of Caroline, Danby, Dryden, Enfield, Groton, Lansing, Newfield and Ulysses, and the Village of Lansing. Contact: Daniel Winch, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 564-7813, Nancy Zahler, County Youth Bureau, 274-5310. 

A hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m., February 19, at the Board Chambers in the County Courthouse regarding the possible acquisition by eminent domain of about ten small parcels of land along North Triphammer Road. A total of 88 narrow strips of land are needed as rights-of-way in order to proceed with a planned project to widen and improve the road. Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Blanchard explained that the County may have to acquire the last few parcels through its right of eminent domain, a last resort used only when negotiations with landowners fail. Most of the North Triphammer landowners have agreed to sell their easements, Blanchard added, at a total cost to the County of almost $100,000. Under eminent domain, sellers are given fair market value for their property. Contact: Barbara Blanchard, Chair, Public Works Committee, 277-1374.

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