News Tidbits 9/19/09: Stocking Hall’s Long Awaited Reconstruction is Approved — Dairy Plant to Shut Down

19 09 2009

The Dairy Bar as we know it will soon be no more. According to Cornell, the new Stocking Hall will start construction next September. The $105 million project will last approximately four years (meaning that no current student will see it through to its full fruition while an undergrad…probably not even the kids in the class of 2014). The project calls for tearing down the east portion of the building and building a new glass-fronted modernist four-story structure. The older portion of the building (the part that actually looks attractive) will be refurbished. In the meanwhile, the Dairy Bar will temporarily be moved to Trillium while construction is in progress.

The project was originally slated to begin this year, but was pushed back amid concerns with state budget cuts (i.e. lass money allocated to CALS programs) and adequate funding for the project.

MINOR UPDATE: I think this is the first time I ever heard the project come up in a fraternity meeting, but it was announced at the end of the meeting with the same tone one would expect to hear that Christmas has been cancelled until 2014. I have underestimated people’s love of the Dairy Bar. I also did not account for the fact that Cornell is laying off all Cornell Dairy employees.


CALS plans major renovation of Stocking Hall

With $105 million from the State University Construction Fund, Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) will build a new four-story building to replace Stocking Hall’s “runway” and refurbish Stocking Hall, starting September 2010, to give the Department of Food Science and the landmark Cornell Dairy Bar state-of-the art homes.

The innovative design — including a glass-fronted Dairy Bar and dairy plant and ground-floor laboratories for wine production and sensory studies of food — will invite the public to learn more about food and dairy processing. From an observational balcony above the Dairy Plant, visitors will have a bird’s-eye view as Cornell ice cream, milk, pudding and yogurt move from processing to pasteurization to packaging.

The four-year project calls for demolishing and rebuilding the middle “runway” portion of Stocking Hall, the Dairy Bar and dairy plant along Tower Road with the new four-story building; the Stocking Hall “tower” on Wing Drive will be refurbished. The more modern Food Science Lab, at Tower and Judd Falls roads, will operate as a food processing research facility while reconstruction occurs.

Stocking Hall, which dates to 1923, will be outfitted with new laboratories for the study of connections between foods and human health, food safety, and food and biomaterial processing. Other highlights include a campus teaching winery and crush pad for viticulture and enology students, and modern classrooms and networked meeting spaces.

“The Stocking Hall renovation project presents a timely opportunity for Cornell’s nationally top-ranked food science program to provide the campus and Ithaca communities with a better understanding of how food moves from the field to the marketplace,” said Kathryn Boor, food science chair. “Citizens around the globe are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is handled, processed and marketed.”

Boor said the overhaul would improve research and extension directed at dairy and food processors, and expand training for inspectors from the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, as well as state-authorized certified milk inspectors. A modernized facility will also allow CALS to compete for more food safety, quality and processing research funds from federal and state agencies and private companies.

“Because our program conducts research and outreach aimed at improving dairy product quality and safety and wine quality, this renovation project will directly contribute to improving the viability of the New York dairy and wine industries, which are typified by family-owned and -operated businesses,” Boor said.

The Dairy Plant’s ice cream freezer, outdated tanks and pasteurization equipment will be replaced with computer-controlled machinery capable of transmitting data directly from the floor of the plant to the Web for access by employees, researchers and students.

“The redesign of Stocking Hall will make our day-to-day operations more efficient, allowing us more time and resources to focus on our core mission of supporting teaching, research and extension,” said Jason Huck, general manager of the Dairy Plant.

Next summer, the Cornell Dairy Bar will move to a temporary scooping station in Kennedy Hall’s Trillium Express to make way for construction. Once the first phase of construction is complete in 2013, the iconic Dairy Bar will reopen in Stocking Hall with a revived look and an expanded menu and seating.

Each year, the dairy processes 1.5 million pounds of raw milk from cows at the Cornell Dairy Teaching and Research Center in Harford, N.Y. It produces 140,000 gallons of milk, 20,000 gallons of ice cream, and 4,000 gallons of yogurt and pudding annually. About 80 percent of these products are featured at Cornell Dining locations, while the remainder is distributed to Cornell group houses and departments.


Dear Food Science Faculty, Staff and Students,

With the Stocking Hall renovation project entering the last third of the design phase, and with project time lines becoming firm, we are beginning to prepare for ground-breaking for our new building, now less than 12 months away.

The fact is that the current Dairy Bar and Dairy Plant stand in the direct path of a wrecking ball.  In September 2010, the building in which these operations reside will be razed to make room for a new, state-of-the-art Food Science building. The finished renovation project will reveal a new dairy research and manufacturing facility as well as a new food service facility that will serve Cornell Dairy ice cream and more.
Together with CALS senior leadership, the Food Science Department has developed plans for continuing our core teaching, research and outreach programs during the renovation period.  As you know, the Dairy Operations is an integral component of our Food Science program, contributing to undergraduate and graduate instruction in food science; to basic and applied dairy foods research; to public service through extension programs; and as a designated training facility for New York State Certified Milk Inspectors, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Market Inspectors, and the dairy industry.  In addition, the Cornell Dairy supports many other academic programs (including many College of Engineering courses) and serves as an icon to much of the Cornell community, old and new, in Ithaca and beyond.

Due to budgetary constraints, it is not feasible nor practical to construct an interim dairy manufacturing plant or Dairy Bar during the renovation period. Therefore, we are facing at least 3-4 years from the time when demolition starts until we have a new dairy plant and food service operation up and running.  Specifically, as of June 18th, 2010, the Dairy Bar in Stocking Hall will close its doors and the Dairy Plant in Stocking Hall will eliminate its manufacturing operations.  The staff positions associated with these operations will also end, and those holding these positions will be laid off.

Although it is more than 9 months until the Dairy Bar and Dairy Plant activities will be directly affected by the renovation project, it is our intent to openly communicate the future direction of the Dairy Operations to our entire team and to the community. Our goal is to provide our staff with appropriate resources and support. The Department and CALS Human Resources will assist our staff through this difficult transition.

As our department embarks on a challenging period of change and uncertainty in the face of hope for a better future, our vision is to provide long-term sustainability to our dairy foods research and outreach program within CALS.  We believe that we’re moving in that direction, but it will come at considerable cost to our team.  We appreciate your assistance in helping us to support our staff and our program through this challenging and emotionally difficult period.
Please do not hesitate to let me, Matt Stratton or Jason Huck know if you have any questions about our situation.



News Tibits 9/18/09: New Six-Story Apt. Building Proposed

18 09 2009
  Proposed Building on Left, DeWitt Mall on Right


ecproject ithaca


The site is on the corner of Seneca and Cayuga Streets, currently the 1960s era Women’s Community Building. The six-story building is to hold 50 units of affordable apartment housing. As proposed, the building would require a zoning appeal, but local officials seem receptive to the project.

ITHACA — Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services has proposed a plan to demolish the Women’s Community Building and replace it with a six-story, affordable housing apartment complex, with community meeting space on the bottom floor.

Plans were first presented to Common Council’s planning committee Wednesday night.

The move would require the city to change zoning on the lot. Current zoning allows four stories and requires one off-street parking space per unit.

INHS is asking that the lot be changed to match the zoning on the other three corners — the Clinton House, the Masonic Temple and the DeWitt Mall — which allows six stories and requires no off-street parking.

Planning committee members were supportive of the change, saying it would help the city meet goals for downtown density and affordable housing. They also urged INHS to maintain the community meeting space currently provided in the Women’s Community Building.

INHS Executive Director Paul Mazzarella said it’s certainly the organization’s intention to keep the space, but that financing and other issues may make it difficult.

One of the reasons the property’s current owner, the City Federation of Women’s Organizations of Ithaca, has agreed to sell is because they make so little money renting the meeting space, he said.

“They’re empty probably 90 percent of the time,” he said. “Quite honestly, it costs money to build and maintain that space.”

If built as proposed, the property would come back onto the tax rolls, based on a state formula for affordable housing complexes, Mazzarella said. The entire property is currently tax exempt.

As proposed, INHS would build 25 one-bedroom and 25 two-bedroom units, with rents ranging from $300 to $1,000 per month.

City Planning Director JoAnn Cornish said the zoning change “makes sense” and Alderman Dan Cogan, D-5th, said the proposed project is “ideal.”

Though parking wouldn’t be required under the proposed zoning, Mazzarella said INHS plans to build 15 spaces on site.

Planning Committee Chairwoman Jennifer Dotson, I-1st, supported the zoning change and encouraged INHS to create green space rather than on-site parking.

To meet state funding deadlines, Common Council would have to approve the zoning change, and the city Planning Board would have to grant site plan approval, before next February, Mazzarella said.

The planning committee agreed to circulate a memo with more information on the project, and address the issue again next month.

News Tidbits 9/14: Old People and Hippies Like Ithaca

15 09 2009

Conifer Village

Two little planning tidbits of note. One is that a company that specializes in senior citizen housing complexs is scouting sites in the town of Ithaca near the Cayuga Medical Center [1]. The company is currently beginning work on a $10 million, 120-unit complex in Horseheads, which is effectively suburban Elmira (yes, people actually live in Elmira, and it’s a lot like Ithaca, just without the prosperity and colleges). The parcels the company is checking out aren’t too far from one senior citizens’ facility already located on West Hill, a 36-bed facility known as Alterra [2]. None of the company’s facilities are subsidized, so it’s unlikely to be different if an Ithaca location was constructed. This comes on the heels of the Conifer Village senior housing, which was also built on West Hill (72 units, completed last year). In the same vein, McGraw House in downtown Ithaca is planning a 25-50 unit expansion, and is currently in the development stages [3].

So yeah. Old people like Ithaca. I think it’s part of a trend of retirees moving to college towns to enjoy a “higher quality of life” and increased educational and cultural venues that are often associated with such communities. The New York Times did a story on it not too long ago [4].

In other news, Ecovillage is planning its third community, TREE. This goes with the previous two facilities in that area, SONG and FROG. The 30-unit addition, with a new “education facility”, has a tentative construction start in 2010, and for completion in early 2011 [5]. Ecovillage currently has 60 units at its West Hill location; White Hawk, another ecovillage, has plans for 30 total units over the next few years at its Danby location (for the record, Danby is a town just south of Ithaca). Hippies like Ithaca too. But, I s’pose that’s not really news.






Best Map of Collegetown Ever.

10 09 2009

The map was a project of an alumnus, Ryan Gomez ’09. I dare say it’s one of the best maps I’ve ever seen of Collegetown, not only because it’s a visually appealing map, but also because it covers the history of many of the addresses in the neighborhood, not to mention worthy Cornelliana.

This map deserves a look:

Mr. Gomez, you’ve earned my respect and admiration.

The Keyword Bar VI

7 09 2009

Yeah, I’ve been lax about updating lately. I have some things in queue, but I also have research going on, so things are a little hectic. Naturally I’m turning to my favorite cop-out of fielding responses to some of the search entries that have led people to the entries in this blog.

1. “alpha gamma cornell” (9/5/09)

This could be in reference to a fraternity or defunct sorority that the individual failed to incluse the whole name of, or it could be a reference to the research report “Hazed and Confused” by Adam Zwecker [1]. In Zwecker’s report of hazing within the Greek system of Cornell, he uses the psuedonym “Alpha Gamma (Phi)” in reference to a house that he was pledging that committed a series of hazing violations in flagrant disregard of system and campus policies. Rumor mill tends to associate the psuedonym with two or three different houses, and the actual house was reported to have been reorganized after the report to remove such dangerous activities.  I’ve heard the report used more than once as a reason why Cornell students avoid becoming part of the Greek system, which is unfortunate but I can definitely see the reasoning behind their decision.

2. “tke blackballed from lehigh” (9/4/09)

This one is interesting not because of who it deals with, but the term “blackballing”.  According to the fountain of information that is Wikipedia [2], blackballing is a rejection technique used in elections to decline membership in fraternities and gentlemen’s clubs. Typically, in Greek orgainzations, some method similar to blackballing or dinging is used to decline membership to potentially undesirable candidates. The name hails from the black balls used to signify opposition in elections in the fraternal orders of days long past.

Since the IFC at Cornell has made use in the recent past of an electronic system to keep in track of rushees visiting houses during Rush Week, and that the site includes the capability to record comments on these individuals submitted by houses, a person could be blackballed not just from a house, but from most/all Cornell fraternities if the comments are strongly negative. I imagine that would take an outstanding showing of stupidity.

3. “ithaca cornell share frat scene” (9/3/09)

I’m going to take this as a a question regarding whether Ithaca College and Cornell have uniform membership in greek houses. The answer is no for IFC and PanHel. Ithaca College banned Greek Life in 1980, and while there may be some underground groups, they operate separately from Cornell chapters. However, MGLC has found a way around this by creating “citywide chapters” which draw members from multiple colleges in the same geographic area. I’m aware of at least one MGLC sorority that has roughly half of its members from Cornell and half from Ithaca College. The legitimacy of these organizations with regards to Cornell’s greek affairs alone is debatable, but since most MGLC organizations are quite small, it probably doesn’t come up very often.

4. “three side dormitory cornell”  (8/30/09)

Donlon, but technically not correct, since it actually has six exterior sides. It’s just that the three curved sides are much more prominent.

Photo Courtesy of Cornell Facilities

Mary Donlon Hall was completed in 1961 as an all women’s dormitory, the last of the all women’s to be built on north campus before it went co-ed [3]. Mary Donlon Alger (class of 1915) was a prominent federal judge who served on the Board of Trustees for 29 years [4].

5.  “maximum building height town of ithaca”

Really depends on the zoning, but most residential zoning only allows a maximum height of 36 feet before a zoning variance is required. The two current projects beofre the board fall below that though; a 106-unit townhouse development by Holochuck Homes off of Route 96, and a 13-unit housing development called Cleveland Estates that will be south of Ithaca College off of Danby Road. The townhouse units might see some trouble because of traffic concerns and opposition to what the West Hill community feels would be an increase in crime if the housing is “affordable” (believe it or not, this is a leigitimate concern. The 128-unit Overlook at West Hill development has been plagued with what neighborhood residents feel are unreasonably high crime rates [5]). The town is looking into a moratorium on West Hill, which would effectively kill the proposal.

According to the West Hill Civic Association, this is the list of proposed and potentially developable properties that are under study:











1. Carrowmoor, 400 units, commercial space

2. Conifer (Linderman Builders), 100 more units (this is in addition to the 180 or so units already in place)

3. Holochuck Development, 106 units near hospital

4. Cornell Parcels, 33 acres off Trumansburg road

–Assisted care interested, 50 units of senior housing, (probably similar to Alterra)

–nothing formal before town

5. Land that can be developed, nothing set yet, Medical Center parcel

Tompkins County

6. Property off Bundy Rd. (67 acres)

7. Perry Farm (60 acres)

8.Kaderli Trade Inc. (100 acres)

9. Eco Village 3rd Neighborhood