The county legislature’s Government Operations Committee will consider the purchase offer made by members of the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association (ICNA) at its next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 3:30 p.m. The committee will meet in executive session to discuss the offer.
On Jan. 15, eight ICNA members presented a letter of intent to the county legislature with an offer to purchase the 25.5 acres of 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. We sincerely believe that preserving all or most of the “Biggs Parcel” in a natural state, ultimately under some form of public or semi-public ownership, offers substantial and tangible/economic benefits to county residents.
We hope that the county legislators will recognize the strong, widespread support ICNA has received from the community since we formed the association in 2013, and base their decision on community input, county quality of life, and environmental stewardship. Short-term decision-making based only on financial concerns erodes public confidence and can lead to long-term negative consequences.
Every January, the legislature reconstitutes its committees; Government Operations will now meet the first Wednesday of each month. Dan Klein continues as chair. Will Burbank is vice chair, with members Dooley Kiefer, Rich John and Carol Chock.
Government Operations Committee
Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 3:30 p.m.
Legislative Chambers, Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court St.
Eight members of the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association (ICNA) on Jan. 15 presented a letter of intent to the county legislature with an offer to purchase the 25.5 acres of 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.
The letter was submitted to Dan Klein, chair of the county legislature’s Government Operations Committee. The offer was made contingent on the buyers’ ability to raise the amount offered in firm pledges within three months of its being accepted by the county, among other details.
We sincerely believe that preserving all or most of the Biggs Parcel in a natural state, ultimately under some form of public or semi-public ownership, offers substantial and tangible/economic benefits to County residents, including:
– a less-than-zero carbon footprint;
– no increase in traffic along the already over-burdened Route 96 corridor;
– no need for municipally-financed upgrade of infrastructure;
– preservation of a large, oxygen-positive green parcel and habitat for wildlife;
– no increase in erosion/runoff for downstream property owners and residents; and
– opportunities for low-impact recreation and nature-appreciation, for county residents.
The Government Operations Committee will next meet Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m. in the legislature chambers at 121 East Court St.
Because of the strong support ICNA has received over the past two-and-a-half years, we are confident that, if the county legislators respond to our community’s request, we can ensure that these acres of woods and wetlands continue to benefit the public and the environment. Thanks to your efforts, we’ve come this far.
At its meeting on Dec. 22, the county legislature’s Government Operations Committee considered a proposal from Planning Director Ed Marx to list the Indian Creek woods property for sale on the open market.
After meeting in executive session to discuss the proposal, the committee said it would delay listing the property until Jan. 15 in order to give ICNA an opportunity to make an offer on the 25.5 acres of woods and wetlands. The committee said the county would consider offers below the 2009 assessment value of $340,000 for the land. If ICNA does not make an offer by Jan. 15, the county will list the property. The county did not reveal a new assessed value for the property.
We are working on scheduling an ICNA meeting for the week of Jan. 4. Please check our Facebook page or website (indiancreekneighborhood.com) for the meeting confirmation later this week.
ICNA member Roy Luft spoke in public session at the beginning of the meeting. This is his statement:
“I’m going to speak today for the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association and as a private citizen.
For the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association: Before ICNA can make any commitments we need to hear the new assessed value of the woods and the county’s asking price. ICNA has met with the UNA committee of the EMC. We have requested that UNA status be extended up Indian Creek to the woods, based upon the creek, the extensive wetlands, the flora, and fauna. We believe that UNA designation would make ICW eligible to receive funding from the county’s Capital Reserve Fund for Natural, Scenic, and recreational protection. We may be able to raise the matching 50% of funds needed to protect the woods.
Speaking for myself: Several months ago, I told this committee that I would consider a development on my open back acreage that fronts on the woods, if there was an environmentally well conceived project proposed, rather than having the county cut down woods for that project. I thought, rather naively, that since the county planning department came up with the NRP project, that they would come up with an alternative project.
I see now that we the public will need to act, “Take the bull by the horns,” and come up with our own project. Therefore, I am considering a cluster subdivision of senior houses in my field. This would require the Biggs property, as the compensating land to be protected, in exchange for the high density of the cluster development. “This could increase the tax base for the town and county while preserving the woods. “If this is an idea that you all believe has merit, then I will work with the county and town planning departments, to move forward with this and see if we can make numbers work so that energy-efficient 700-1000-square-foot homes can be built to sell to seniors at an affordable price. I would ask that you not list the land on the open market while we explore this option. If you want to post an RFP for alternative ideas about the woods, I would have no objections.
Let’s do what is best.”
We have important issues to discuss at the next meeting. Please email us at email@example.com if you have any questions or comments.
In the meantime, happy new year, everyone!
The county legislature’s Government Operations Committee will again consider a resolution to put the Indian Creek woods up for sale on the open market at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 22. The meeting begins at 3 p.m.
At the committee’s last meeting on Nov. 24, ICNA made a presentation and urged county legislators to work with ICNA and the community “to create a model on creative land use that preserves green space and protects the lake’s watershed” in making decisions on what to do with the 25.5 acres of Indian Creek woods.
Members of the committee, chaired by Dan Klein, did not respond to our request to work with the county on developing plans for preserving and managing the property, with time for the community to negotiate a purchase plan. Mr. Klein pressed our members for a quick sale of the property.
County leadership has not responded to requests from citizens of West Hill on issues related to environmental management or preservation. West Hill does not have adequate representation in county government, unlike citizens in Danby or Dryden who have been able to work with the county legislature to preserve natural resources like, for example, the Fall Creek parcel on Pinckney Road. During its decades of ownership of the Indian Creek land, the county has never conducted a full environmental review of the Indian Creek wetlands, flora and fauna, or an archeological study of the documented native peoples’ crossing of Indian Creek at Dubois Road.
On Dec. 14, several ICNA members met with the county Environmental Management Council’s Unique Natural Areas committee to request that the committee investigate extending the existing Indian Creek Unique Natural Area to include the 25.5 acres of the woods and wetlands. We are presenting a formal request to the committee.
During this holiday week, we know it will be difficult for community members to attend another county committee meeting whose outcome we expect will go against us, since the county legislature has shown no willingness to sit down and work together with our West Hill community. If you can attend, please make a comment in our support at the beginning of the meeting.
Government Operations Committee Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 3:00 p.m.Legislature Chambers, Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court St.
For updates and more information, including maps and other background, visit our website at indiancreekneighborhood.com.
We’ll meet in January, in the new year, which we hope will bring new opportunities and happiness to all the members of our community.
Indian Creek Neighborhood Association members gave a presentation and made comments to the Government Operations Committee on Nov. 24. We urged the county legislators to work with ICNA and the community “to create a model on creative land use that preserves green space and protects the lake’s watershed” in making decisions on what to do with the 25.5 acres of Indian Creek woods.
We also urged:
Members of the committee, chaired by Dan Klein, did not directly address our proposals. Mr. Klein pressed our members to “make an offer” to buy the property.
We responded that property’s current property assessment of $340,000 was made in 2009 before its extensive wetlands were discovered. At this meeting, Jay Franklin, county director of assessment, said his office would “update the current assessment.”
County legislators did not respond to our request to meet with us in partnership to discuss best options, urging only that we rush to “make an offer” to purchase the property.
County Law Section 215, Local Law No. 3 of 1981 (http://tompkinscountyny.gov/adminmanual/01-07) states: “It is the intention of the Legislature, when significant natural, cultural, or historic resources are identified, to allow resource stewardship organizations an opportunity to review and investigate the property to evaluate both the resource(s) and potential methods of protecting the resource.
“If a significant resource is located on the property, the Legislature shall consider withholding the property from sale in order to allow organizations to perform legal, environmental, cultural, historic, and other reviews and investigations of the property. If an organization expresses an interest in taking title to the property, then the County may negotiate the sale of the land so that the significant resource shall be protected for the public good.”
We do not understand the county’s apparent rush to sell the land quickly. When the county was trying to sell the land to an out-of-state developer, we were told that the county needed money from the sale to help pay for the move of the health department to East Hill. However, at this meeting, Mike Lane, chair of the legislature, said that it was the sale of the land parcel with the Biggs B building on it that provided funds for the move.
We have asked the county legislators for time and a collaborative process to make the best decisions for the Indian Creek woods. The woods have existed for 100 years and are not going anywhere. Let us take the time to make wise decisions as good stewards of the land for future generations.
We will announce an ICNA meeting in the coming days.
ICNA will make a presentation to the county Government Operations Committee this Tuesday, Nov. 24.
The meeting will begin with comments from the public at 3:30 p.m. Our presentation to committee members is scheduled for 3:50 p.m.
Our statement to the committee reflects the input we have received from our members over the last two years, and was developed during the two meetings we had in November. We will express our community’s efforts to ensure that the future of the 25.5 acres of publicly owned woods, wetlands and wildlife habitat at Indian Creek will be determined in an inclusive, transparent process. We will also describe the land’s environmental and historical significance, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
Please join us if you can to show your support.
Government Operations Committee
Tuesday, Nov. 24
Legislature Chambers, Tompkins Building
121 E. Court St.
For two years, ICNA has been working diligently to demonstrate to our county representatives the value of preserving open land in our county. Please see below for a summary of the issues surrounding selling and developing the woods on Indian Creek.
The proposed sale of the Indian Creek woods on the open market was NOT set in motion at today’s meeting of the county legislature’s Government Operations Committee, chaired by legislator Dan Klein.
After hearing comments from seven members of ICNA (about a dozen were in attendance), and from county planning commissioner Ed Marx, the committee delayed acting on Marx’s proposal to authorize listing the property for sale on the open market, in order to give community members time to come up with a plan to preserve the 26 acres of woods and wetlands.
ICNA will hold a meeting soon so that we may discuss ideas and options to bring to the committee at its next meeting on Nov. 24. We will send you details as soon as the meeting is arranged.
Thanks to the leadership of Dan Klein, our community now has an opportunity to participate in the future of this important parcel of land.
According to Marx, Tompkins County does not maintain unused land and has no ability to manage it; therefore, the county must sell the land. He said it would be too “time-consuming” for the planning office to put together another Request for Proposals for the site. He said the asking price of $340,000 for the land (based on its 2009 assessment) would likely be adjusted based on the extensive wetlands found on the site, and a proposed easement along Indian Creek.
Klein, along with committee members Dooley Kiefer, Dave McKenna and Glenn Morey, determined there was no pressing need to put the property on the market immediately. They responded to the community’s requests for participation in determining the future of the woods.
So — now the ball is in our court. We have worked very hard over the past two years to prevent the 26 acres of woods and wetlands at Indian Creek from being developed. Now we must come up with a plan to preserve this environmentally sensitive area.
Please send your thoughts and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, and plan to attend our upcoming meeting to be part of this exciting project to preserve precious green space in the midst of our neighborhood. This is our chance to respond to the crisis of climate change by safeguarding the Cayuga Lake watershed, preserving natural habitat and being responsible stewards of land that is entrusted to our care.
Dear Friends —
We have great news for all of you who have supported our efforts to save the Indian Creek woods: NRP has pulled out of the “Cayuga Trails” project and will not be building its townhouse development on our 25.5 acres of woodland and wildlife habitat.
ICNA received confirmation today from a town official that after NRP began its mandated environmental review of the property, surveyors determined that the wetland on the site is much larger than county officials and NRP expected. It extends through the center of the property.
Your strong support and contributions enabled ICNA to take legal action to force the county to do an extensive environmental review before building on the land. If not for your efforts, construction may have started without proper planning and the woods could now be gone. We congratulate NRP for making a wise decision early in the process by pulling out of this site.
The support ICNA has received over this past year has been overwhelming. The public has spoken: Save the Indian Creek Woods!
We still have work to do to preserve this important woodland and wildlife habitat. And public officials must be held accountable in performing their most important duty – to serve as good stewards of our environment and to preserve it for future generations. The county legislature must revisit Resolution 4345 passed on Oct. 1, 2013, which declared that the 25.5 acres of woodland are “no longer needed for public use.”
There IS a public use for the woods: helping to mitigate the effects of rapid climate change on the Cayuga Lake watershed.
Last weekend hundreds of Ithacans joined the massive climate march in NYC to demand that public officials address the climate crisis. The Indian Creek woods are a small but vital piece of the delicate ecosystem of the Finger Lakes. We can’t cut down 25.5 acres of woods and wetland – and displace innumerable animals – because of shortsightedness and lack of imagination. The Earth is at a crossroads, and we must do our part to keep it healthy.
We pledge to work with public officials at every level to develop a plan to contribute to the worldwide effort of preserving our planet’s environment by preserving the environmental health and beauty of our own backyard.
Today (June 24) the Government Operations Committee of the county legislature tabled a motion that would have authorized NRP Properties to submit an application to the Town of Ithaca for its proposed 60-townhouse development at the Indian Creek Woods.
For the first time, members of the county legislature responded to the concerns of citizens who are opposing this large development by an out-of-state investment firm that would irrevocably destroy acres of woodland and wildlife habitat.
The committee is chaired by Nate Shinegawa. Members are Dooley Kiefer (who has supported our efforts in the past), Daniel Klein, David McKenna and Michael Sigler. We would like to give a special thanks to Mr. Sigler, who urged committee members to listen to the voices of the people of West Hill and even to meet with the community.
About a dozen ICNA members attended and half spoke to urge the committee not to rubber-stamp another step forward in NRP’s efforts to build the development. Their comments prompted committee members to question the timing and purpose of the resolution.
After discussion, the committee voted 4-1 to table the motion until its next meeting July 22. In the meantime, there will be further consultation with the county attorney and planning staff.
This is a positive step for our efforts. The motion was not passed tonight, which means that this county government committee, at least, is taking a closer look at the community and environmental impact this huge development will cause on West Hill.
Thanks to all our supporters!