Highlights of the August 7, 2001 meeting of the
Tompkins County Board of Representatives
By a vote of 9-5 (Reps. Frank Proto, Stuart Stein, Thomas Todd, George Totman, and Daniel Winch voted no; Rep. Michael Koplinka-Loehr was absent), the Board approved the release of $10,000 previously set aside as the County’s share of a study of three recreational facilities used by county residents. The request for the study has come from the Recreation Partnership, a consortium of towns that pay for use of the Cass Park rink and swimming pool, facilities at Stewart Park, and Newman Municipal Golf Course for youth programs. The City of Ithaca, which owns the facilities, will contribute $15,000 and the Town of Ithaca, which partly funds Cass Park, will contribute $5,000 to the study. Economic Research Associates (ERA), of Washington, DC – no local firms bid for the task – will analyze attendance patterns and facility use, and recommend strategies for ways to make the facilities’ operations more efficient. ERA’s bid for the work is a maximum of $27,000. Any remaining funds may be used to look at other youth recreation 
issues, such as possible consolidation of the City and County Youth Bureaus. 
Contacts: Rep. Nancy Schuler, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 272-7298; Nancy Zahler, Director, County Youth Bureau, 274-5310.

The Board approved $25,413 in Commercial Center Revitalization grants to support projects in the Towns of Lansing, Danby, Enfield, and the hamlet of Jacksonville. Approval was unanimous with the exception of a grant to Rogues Harbor Inn, which Rep. Joe Lalley opposed. A grant for landscaping along the road frontage of a private company in Lansing was withdrawn. 

Commercial Center Revitalization grants were awarded to:
-- Rogues Harbor Inn, Town of Lansing, $3,250, to replace trees, install decorative lighting, replace historic detailing on front porch;
-- Town of Lansing, $3,750, for installation of community sign;
-- Town of Danby, $7,500, for improvements to exterior of Town Hall, including driveway, sidewalks, lighting;
-- Town of Enfield, $4,278, for planters, sign, lighting, bench, and flower garden in town center
-- Hamlet of Jacksonville, $6,635, for sidewalk, bench, landscaping in central area.

The grant program, started in January 1997, uses local tax dollars to help improve the appearance, increase commercial activity, or enhance the quality of life in the county’s rural commercial or community centers. Applicants can be public institutions or private businesses whose façade or property is considered part of the municipal streetscape. Eligible communities are those that have drawn up a strategic plan for their central commercial areas. The County grants are matching, and cover up to 50 percent of a project’s total cost. The maximum grant amount is $7,500. Since the program started, a total of $161,936 has been awarded. 
Contacts: Rep. Peter Penniman, Chair, Planning Committee, 387-5897; Karen Flores, Circuit Rider Planner, 274-5560.

By unanimous vote (14-0; Rep. Michael Koplinka-Loehr was absent), the Board agreed to create a new County position, to oversee two major communications projects. The Director of Emergency Communications Center will become project manager for the Public Safety Communications System, the upgrade to the countywide emergency radio communications system, presently in the planning stages. The position will also oversee the consolidated 911 dispatch center, slated for construction next to the South Hill Fire Station. The new position requires no new taxpayer money because it replaces a vacant position. 
Contacts: Rep. George Totman, Chair, Public Safety Committee, 838-3444; Steve Whicher, County Administrator.

The Board passed two resolutions related to its construction project on Bostwick Road. The first resolution, which passed unanimously (14-0; Rep. Michael Koplinka-Loehr was absent), adopts a negative declaration of environmental significance for the project, which is an expansion of the Public Works building to house the Facilities Division. An Environmental Assessment Form is on file. The second resolution reaffirms the County’s approval of the project. Rep. Frank Proto was opposed. Deputy Attorney Jonathan Wood said earlier today that ordinarily the County would have applied the environmental review process at the time the capital project was approved, and that not doing so was an oversight. 
Contacts: Rep. Michael Lane, Chair, Public Works Committee; Deputy County Attorney Jonathan Wood, 274-5546.

County Board Chair Barbara Mink directed staff to file Freedom of Information requests with the towns that are suing the County in two separate suits, to learn the costs to the towns for outside legal counsel. County Administrator Steve Whicher reported that the County has paid over $30,000 so far and anticipates another bill for $30,000 to meet the requirements of a suit concerning redistricting. Deputy Attorney Jonathan Wood said earlier today that the final cost may approach $100,000. The cost of countering another suit over land-use issues will be an additional expense, Wood said. Mink expressed regret that taxpayer money is being used to settle intermunicipal differences. 
Contacts: Rep. Barbara Mink, Board Chair, 274-5434, 273-7847; Deputy County Attorney Jonathan Wood, 274-5546.

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