Petition for Waterfront Trail

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Petition for Waterfront Trail — Phase 1 of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail consists of a two-mile loop on the northeast side of the flood control channel. The next phase is going to connect this loop to trails on the other side of the channel leading to the Ithaca Farmers’ Market and Stewart Park. We ask you to support the development of this trail system by signing the petition here

3 thoughts on “Petition for Waterfront Trail

  1. From the FLCC list serve:

    I’d like to offer a respectfully opposing viewpoint on the issue of the Waterfront Trail. I am, like all of you, an avid cyclist, runner, etc, and am always happy to see developments made that promote recreational activities. However, it is important to consider the impact of such construction on local busniesses. I am employed by a small kayak shop on the Cayuga inlet which would be seriously affected by the Waterfront Trail, so I am offering a perspective that I would not expect people to otherwise be aware of. Plans for Phase 2 of the development plan have the trail running straight through the private property of the shop, between the store and our dock on the inlet. They plan to use eminent domain to acheive this, claiming the space has been used as an informal path already, when in reality people almost never walked through that space. Most of the business we do is rentals, and a wide path with heavy traffic would eliminate needed storage space and make use of the !
    dock almost impossible, effectively putting us out of business. Far more important than the fate of a local business is the fact that Phase 2 plans include taking out a lane on the Rt 96 bridge which, among many other things, is used heavily by ambulances traveling to the hospital (see last Friday’s Ithaca Journal). –

  2. Rick Manning responds:

    I would like to respond to clarify what I believe are some common misunderstandings about phase 2 of the Waterfront Trail that are reflected in a recent email to the list. Apologies in advance for those who find this tiresome or feel I am abusing the list.

    1. Bridge Lane Conversion: As many of you know, there are two westbound lanes on the Route 96 Bridge over the flood channel. The right hand lane is for turning onto a dead end street with 8 houses and a small trail parking area. Many people use this lane for passing on the right and then merge quickly at the light. Others are confused and stay in the lane when they are intending to continue up the hill, and then merge unsafely at the light. Our proposal is to take 7′ of the outside lane – 5′ to widen sidewalk to 10′ width (curb would be centerline of trail), then install a 2′ concrete barrier (essentially a ‘jersey barrier’). This would leave two 12′ lanes with 4′ shoulders in either direction (I wish it were 11′ lanes with 5′ bike lanes but so far NYSDOT has not allowed this). We have videotaped this on two occasions and can show cars pulling over and allowing ambulance to pass. This is wider than most city streets (32′ total from southern rail to proposed concrete barrier while most of Cliff Street is 24’ wide). The proposed merge also occurs west of Pete’s entry and the railroad cars, so has no impact on traffic at the Route 89/96 intersection. NYSDOT, Fed highway admin, our traffic engineers (Bergmann Associates) and Fire Chief Wilbur all support this proposal and it is worth noting that NYSDOT does not easily give up vehicular space for bikes. This is a rather unusual bridge design that presents an opportunity to create a cost effective waterway crossing that actually enhances traffic flow and safety. Also worth noting is that this idea was thought of by the bicycling community well in advance of the waterfront trail concept.

    Obviously there are significant traffic issues on the west end that is of great concern to emergency responders. But this bridge lane conversion proposal is not the problem. Check out to view plans and some information about this. (Note that just yesterday we opened a new web page and this information was not on the first generation. I have been assured that it will be up today, under Trail Design section. Sorry about the timing. I can email materials directly to anyone interested in this proposal.

    2. Easement acquisition: The trail is proposed to be located along the water edge of the Digiacomo property, where Puddledockers is located. Public access along a waterfront is a common, best planning practice and would be required if this area were to be redeveloped. Since we have been working on this project, two restaurants have closed on this property and the Bistro Q/BBQ place has also closed twice. I believe that if the trail were in place, this area would have beautified, more safe and accessible, and on the way to being revitalized. I view the trail as an infrastructure investment providing the sidewalks and non-motorized access that is currently missing. Look on the west side of the Inlet, on Inlet Island. Chemung Canal Trust built a little section of the trail along 96 and built the trailhead west of the railroad cars. The Jewelbox, Island Health and Boatyard Grill all support the trail and have an interest in creating a vibrant waterfront district. Yes parking is a huge problem on Inlet Island, but this means that this area is a desirable destination and that we have not provided safe and viable non-motorized transportation alternatives. East of the Inlet is a very different story and I believe landowners and businesses east of the Inlet are missing an opportunity.

    The trail is proposed to pass along the north and west edge of Puddledockers. Boat storage north of the building could easily be accommodated on racks located on either side of the trail and the trail could be used for carrying boats. The trail is not a 10’ high wall, it is flat, 10’ wide surface and can be easily traversed. The trail would drive hundreds of sympathetic, active, outdoor types past Puddledockers front door. Yes, it would require significant operational changes, but most of the people that I talk to seem to think that it presents a significant marketing and business opportunity.

    Puddledockers is a great business and does a wonderful job getting people onto our waterways. This is exactly the type of business that we want on the waterfront. So, to have the local outfitter fighting the trail has been surprising. In fairness, the site is small and it does sometimes feel presumptuous on the part of trail advocates to assume that the trail would benefit this business.

    It is unclear that the easement acquisition process will go to eminent domain. Certainly no one at the City of Ithaca wants it to get to that point. Recent news is that NYSDOT is taking over the process to get it moving, which has generated the new buzz of newspaper articles and talk. Hopefully it can get worked out and everyone can reap the benefits.

    Rick Manning

  3. From alderperson Jennifer:

    Thanks, Rick. (And apologies about any misuse of the list, but I have to chime in since the petition is directed partially at me!)

    I feel very strongly that construction of the “middle” section of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail as soon as possible will be a huge benefit to the entire community. I think the issues regarding the lane on the bridge have been explored well, and it’s hard for me to understand the remaining concerns about that; I think it will work fine, just like the trials have.

    I know that the shifts that Puddledockers and other businesses will experience won’t be easy, but changes rarely are, and I think that they’re well worth it for the clear benefit that this trail will bring both to the business district in that specific area (including Puddledockers) and to the community at large.

    And finally, I think that we all have spent plenty of time discussing, experimenting, attempting to negotiate and generally working through these issues, and it is past time to move forward on Phase 2 of the trail. I’ve been walking the route for years on my way to the Farmers’ Market on weekend mornings, and the gravel is getting more and more tiresome. I see others using the route, and it’s clearly transportation for many, something we should be supporting.


    First Ward Alderperson, City of Ithaca

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