The future of the Indian Creek woods was discussed at a public meeting hosted by County Planning Commissioner Ed Marx yesterday (July 19, 2017) at the Museum of the Earth. More than 20 people, including Town of Ithaca and county officials and staff attended.
Marx opened the meeting by saying that county officials plan to have the 25.5 acres of public-owned woods, wetland and wildlife habitat “return to private ownership,” with the hope that ultimately there would be a “positive outcome.”
He presented three potential scenarios for the property, emphasizing that at this time there are no definite plans or proposals in play for any of these ideas:
1) To build a 2.5-acre development patterned after Eco Village that would include two four-story buildings with 35-40 units and parking.
2) A solar farm project that would clear a minimum of 9.7 acres of the property.
3) A “land swap” that would combine 11 acres of privately-owned land south of the woods with the woods, in which “development rights” would be exchanged so that the private land could be developed with easements imposed so that the woods would be preserved. He said perhaps 50 units of senior housing could be built on the southern portion of land, which is former farmland that is now cleared.
A current map of the properties, with the wetlands delineated, was distributed and is available at https://indiancreekneighborhood.com/maps/.
When asked why county officials did not approve ICNA’s 2016 proposal to purchase the property and create a land trust to preserve woods and wetlands in a natural state, Marx replied that while he could not speak for the legislators, he said the county had declared the land a “surplus” property and wished to obtain market value for it.
Comments from attendees included:
– Concerns about building directly on the wetlands and cutting down trees. That area of West Hill has seen increased flooding in recent years due to heavy rains.
– Increasing population density while West Hill has limited services, especially bus service.
– Since Indian Creek is an “isolated parcel” of land, a new community development there would lack “connectivity” with other parts of the neighborhood.
– A housing development on the site would “change the nature” of the semi-rural character of the area.
– Since the county did not receive an offer for the land during the year it was on the market, would the county reconsider ICNA’s offer to create a land trust? Marx replied that it is “possible to consider anything.”
– Questions about the true extent of the wetlands and the water table, and flooding potential.
– Roy Luft, who owns property south of the woods, talked about the need for housing for seniors in which they have ownership of their homes.
Marx said he and his staff would share information from the meeting with the county legislature, and that they would revisit the ICNA proposal. He said the county would continue to share information with town officials.
Fulfilling a pledge to work with community members, County Planning Commissioner Ed Marx will host a neighborhood meeting to discuss the future of the Indian Creek Woods on:
Wednesday, July 19
7:30 at the Museum of the Earth
The intent of the meeting would be to suggest a few options for the future of the property and to get feedback, Marx told ICNA. He said, “There are no concrete plans for the property at this time so this will be an opportunity for everyone to share their thoughts on how we might move forward.”
Marx announced he would host a meeting with the West Hill community on April 6 as he reported to the county legislature’s Planning, Development and Environmental Quality Committee. At that meeting, legislators voted not to renew a realtor’s contract for sale of the 26 acres of woods and wetlands. Marx and legislators said there would be a “brief delay” in re-listing the property so that county officials could look at possible options for the land. They also pledged to work with community members and to hold meetings to “achieve public objectives.”
We hope you’ll be able to attend this meeting to share your thoughts on the important decision of what will happen to 26 acres of public woods, wetlands and wildlife habitat.
The sale of the Indian Creek woods was put on hold today (April 6, 2017) by county legislators, who pledged to work with community members to determine the ultimate fate of the 25.5 acres of publicly-owned woods and wetlands on West Hill.
The land had been under contract for sale with a realtor since July 2016. The contract has expired with no offers from the local market. At today’s meeting of the Planning, Development and Environmental Quality Committee, county planning commissioner Ed Marx proposed that county legislators NOT renew a sale contract at this time. He said that, after consulting with other county officials, he proposed a “brief delay” of about three months in re-listing the property so that the county could look at possible options for the land. Committee members agreed.
Marx and members of the committee pledged to work with community members in looking at options for the land. He said meetings with the community will be held to “achieve public objectives.”
ICNA member Roy Luft spoke at the beginning of the meeting and urged legislators to preserve the woods and wetlands.
Marx said the planning board would not again propose a large project like the cancelled NRP townhouse development. He said some options the county would look at include a solar farm or a smaller housing development; both projects could utilize up to eight acres of the land.
The Tompkins County legislature is once again turning its attention to the Indian Creek woods, the 25.5 acres of publicly-owned wetlands, woods and natural habitat that sits amid all the new developments planned for West Hill.
The county planning board will “revisit” the issue of what to do with the woods at its meeting on Thursday, April 6. The meeting begins at 3 p.m. The discussion of the woods is slated for after 4 p.m. on the current agenda.
Last summer, the county legislature voted to reject an Indian Creek Neighborhood Association (ICNA) offer to purchase the woods for preservation, and put the woods up for sale on the real estate market in July 2016. The property is assessed at $240,000; the county asking price is $275,000. The property is currently zoned as Low Density Residential.
Martha Robertson now chairs the planning board. She has voted against ICNA and for development of the land in every county vote so far.
Please join us if you can to attend the meeting and let the county know that West Hill residents will continue to protect the woods and wildlife in our midst. We’ll report what happens at the meeting to our members.
Planning, Development and Environmental Quality Committee
Thursday, April 6 at 3 p.m.
Legislative Chambers, Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court St.
Thanks for all your support!
The Indian Creek Neighborhood Association
The Ithaca Times has posted an article about the county’s proposed sale of the Indian Creek woods. The article begins:
“For sale: 25.52 acres on West Hill, with some wetlands and conservation easements. The neighbor agita comes free.”
It’s an accurate, well-written article by Brian Crandall, available at <http://ithacavoice.com/2016/07/biggs-parcel-put-sale/>.
The Tompkins County legislature has contracted with local realtor C.J. Delvecchio of Warren real estate to sell the 25.5 acres of Indian Creek woods and wetlands. The asking price is $275,000.
You can see the listing at
The property is zoned as Low Density Residential. The listing says the property is currently assessed at $340,000 (Tax parcel 24.-3-3.222) but the assessment will be reduced to $240,000 for 2016-17.
We’ll continue to keep you updated as we hear of developments.
Though Tompkins County legislators did not accept ICNA members’ purchase offer for the Indian Creek woods, our group continues to monitor the county’s actions regarding the sale of the land. We will continue to strive for full transparency of any potential sale of 25.5 acres of publicly-owned wetlands, woods and wildlife habitat.
The county’s new assessed value of the land is $240,000. The county has also issued a Request for Proposals (RFP 2016011) for a licensed real estate broker to handle sale of the land; the deadline for responses is June 10.
For the past three years, we have been grateful for the strong support that community members have given our efforts to preserve the quality of life on West Hill and to ensure that county political leaders safeguard the environmental quality of the Cayuga Lake watershed.
We will continue to keep you informed.
The county legislature’s Government Operations Committee today (March 18, 2016) rejected an offer of intent from eight ICNA members to purchase the Indian Creek woods and wetlands to preserve them as a natural wildlife habitat.
The committee voted to instruct the county administrator to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking bids from realtors to represent the county in the sale of the 25.5 acres of undeveloped land along Indian Creek. The committee’s motion included a stipulation that it would consider purchase offers from neighborhood groups or the Town of Ithaca until its next meeting on May 4, when it expects to accept a realtor’s bid.
Though the county has prepared a new assessment of the property, the committee did not release that information today. Committee Chair Dan Klein said the new assessed value will become public on May 1.
Today’s meeting was a disappointment for ICNA members, who had hoped county legislators would respond to our proposals to work together to preserve quality of life in West Hill neighborhoods. Member Linda Grace-Kobas addressed the committee in public session and cited the lack of conservation efforts on West Hill and the new pressures that will result from proposed new developments along the Rte. 96 corridor. There is a need to preserve wildlife habitat and corridors, and keep wetlands intact in order to cope with the effects of extreme climate change. She pointed out that any development on that land will require extension of infrastructure and increased need for services, outweighing any short-term income from the land sale.
The committee members voted unanimously on the motion. They are Dan Klein, chair; Will Burbank, vice chair, and members Dooley Kiefer, Rich John and Carol Chock.
We are planning a meeting for ICNA members in the near future. We will be in touch.
The county legislature’s Government Operations Committee will again consider the purchase offer made for the 25.5 acres of woodland at Indian Creek at its meeting Friday, March 18, at 3 p.m. in the legislative chambers.
The committee considered the proposal in executive session at its meeting Feb. 3, but took no action. A committee meeting originally set for March 2 was postponed until this Friday.
On Jan. 15, eight ICNA members presented a letter of intent with an offer to purchase the woods and wetlands at Indian Creek for the purpose of preserving its natural state as a haven for wildlife, a diverse ecological mix of woods, creek and wetlands, a source of oxygen/clean air, and a buffer against downstream erosion and degradation.
Committee members are Dan Klein, chair; Will Burbank, vice chair, and members Dooley Kiefer, Rich John and Carol Chock.
Please contact committee members this week and urge them to base their decision on the widespread community support ICNA has received, with a focus on their important role in environmental stewardship. A short-term decision based only on financial concerns will destroy quality of life and imperil the Cayuga Lake watershed.
Government Operations Committee
Friday, March 18, 3 p.m.
Legislative Chambers, Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court St.
The county legislature’s Government Operations Committee took no action yesterday (Feb. 3) on a proposal to list the Indian Creek woods for sale on the open market or on ICNA members’ letter of intent to purchase the land.
The committee met briefly in executive session, and then informed our members in attendance that the proposals would be on its agenda for its March 2 meeting.
We’ll convene an ICNA meeting this month. Please stay tuned!