Highlights of the September 4, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Hanshaw Road Reconstruction Project Moves Ahead
By a vote of 13 to 1, the Legislature authorized the design and right-of-way plan for the reconstruction of one-and-a-half miles of Hanshaw Road.  (Legislator Dooley Kiefer voted no; Legislator Tyke Randall absent.)  The project will rehabilitate pavement from the intersection with Pleasant Grove Road in the Village of Cayuga Heights to the approach to Sapsucker Woods Road in the Town Dryden, with nearly all the work taking place in the Town of Ithaca .  The nearly $4.8 million dollar project will be 80 percent-supported by federal funds, and possibly eligible for an additional 15 percent state funding support.  The reconstruction is scheduled to be completed during the 2008-2009 construction season.

 While characterizing the reconstruction as badly needed, Kiefer said her opposition stems from the elimination of colored shoulders (a traffic-calming measure) for budgetary reasons and inclusion of a traffic signal, to replace the current four-way stop, at the Warren Road intersection, which Kiefer believes not currently needed.  The right-of-way plan specifies that approximately 26 permanent and 60 temporary easements will be necessary as part of the project.  Before the vote, property owner Bernard Hutchins, who resides at 1016 Hanshaw Road, voiced his concern about right-of-way provisions related to his property.

Facilities and Infrastructure Committee Chair Kathy Luz Herrera said she is confident that the County has obtained input from the community on the Hanshaw Road project and is pleased by the effect that input has had on project design.  She said that the County has gone “beyond the extra mile” to determine that both community and safety needs are met.

Without dissent, the Legislature also approved the determination that the Hanshaw Road project will cause no significant negative environmental  impact and will require no further environmental review.
Contact:  Kathy Luz Herrera, Chair, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, 273-8169: Planning and Public Works Commissioner Ed Marx, 274-5560; Legislator Dooley Kiefer, 257-7453.

Legislature Authorizes Tourism Funding for Special Projects
The Legislature, by unanimous vote (Legislator Tyke Randall was absent) approved $28,700 in supplemental funding from the County’s Room Tax Reserve Fund for the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau (ITCCVB) to support four special tourism projects during the 2007-2008 program year.

As part of this effort, $1,200 was allocated to improve the signage and add a sidewalk kiosk for the bureau’s Downtown Visitors Center, to increase its visibility and make it an even more effective and accessible local resource.

“Providing accurate, accessible and timely information to travelers is the purpose of the Downtown Visitors Center,” notes ITCCVB Director Fred Bonn.  “Located in the Clinton House, the center has experienced a significant increase in the number of tourists and county residents seeking information on what to do, see and experience in Tompkins County.  Combined drive-and-park and foot traffic for this summer is up over 40 percent over the same period last year.”

The added room tax funds will also support costs associated with redesign the 2008 Travel Guide; this summer’s public relations campaign positioning Ithaca as the community that created the ice cream sundae; and last spring’s Winter Recess campaign, which encouraged teachers from throughout New York State to visit the county during their winter break. 
Contact:  Jackie Kippola, County Administration, 274-5551; Martha Robertson, Chair, Planning , Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584.

Other Business:

County Administrator Steve Whicher reported that the 2008 County budget process is on schedule and that he will deliver his proposed budget to the Legislature September 14th.  That budget, he said, will meet the Legislature’s 2 percent tax levy increase goal, and it will be a budget that he is able to recommend.  The administrator commended departments and agencies for doing “a fantastic job” compiling the financial information on which the proposal is based.
Contact:  County Administrator Steve Whicher, 274-5551.

Legislature Chair Tim Joseph reported on the Legislature’s 2007 goal-setting process, carried forth by the Legislature’s seven standing committees.  Joseph stated this year’s process of establishing clear and realistic goals has been valuable and a learning experience.  The goals, he said, will provide ongoing guidance to committee operations, particularly relating to major projects the committees wish to accomplish.
Contact:  Tim Joseph, Chair of the Legislature, 277-2519, 274-5434.