Canines at Cornell

25 11 2014

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During my four years at Cornell, dogs were something of a rarity. I knew a couple of grad students who had dogs, and a couple of fraternities with house dogs, and that was about it. A member of my chapter tried to push a proposal through our alumni Corporation Board to permit the adoption of a house dog, but the board declined, citing concerns about liability (and given the possibility of someone being bitten at a party or something, I didn’t disagree with their decision).

Before the 1950s, dogs were far more ubiquitous. For one, the Vet School was located where ILR is today, and then-president Mallott cited the incessant animal noises, including barking dogs, as one reason to move out of the A.D. White House at the start of the 1950s (Altschuler and Kramnick 36; I wager that the student riot in front of his house in 1958 reaffirmed his off-campus preferences). But even outside of the kennels and vet offices (dogs weren’t allowed in lecture halls in the vet school), dogs were accepted and even welcome on the quads, in academic buildings, libraries and even cafeterias. Some thought it was the result of an alumni donation with a stipulation to allow roaming digs free rein of the quads.

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But the hospitality towards canine companions was fading. In 1948, they were banned from the Willard Straight cafeteria, and the following year, the Cornell Sun waged a campaign to have rowdy rovers removed from campus Libraries. In 1953, Malott (what is with this man hating on dogs?) had Fido banned from the graduation ceremony. By December 1959, dogs were banned from all campus buildings aside from the Vet School. The reasons for banning dogs were fair enough; dog fights, interrupting a symposium on segregation, destroying books; but some students and faculty still mourned the disappearance of canines from the classroom. One misogynistic professor told the Sun in 1959 he “surveys the situation before each class and throws out any wild puppies. Dogs are like co-eds knitting. I’m willing to put up with them if they stay quiet. Who knows? Like the co-eds, they might learn something.”

A special focus of the anti-dog sentiment was on a 5-year old, three-legged husky named “Tripod”, who became a sort of quad-wandering unofficial campus mascot in the mid and late 1950s. “Tripod” had three legs as the result of a car accident in November 1953, from which “he hovered for many weeks between life and death“, and his back left leg was paralyzed and later had to be amputated. Officially, he was the house dog of Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) and named Chinook, but like many dogs, wandered campus at his whim. However, Tripod chased a cat to death and was reported to have snapped at students. Eyewitness reports to the Sun claim he was chasing the cat when it ran into the path of a patrolling campus police car, but the police report suggests he mangled the cat, which then crawled under the car. The Sun was not inclined to believe them. His former owner (Roger Burggraf ’56) claimed him, and once his army tour was completed in Spring 1959, said he would return the husky to Alaska. Tripod had a fraternity-hosted feast in his honor on October 17, 1958, and while it’s not stated whatever happened after he was picked up by his owner the next day, I hope that he lived out some happy days in the last frontier. His now 82-year old owner did return to Alaska, worked as a dog trainer, and was awarded Alaskan of the Year a few days ago, so I have every reason to be optimistic.

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The removal of dogs took a pause during the 1960s, when civil unrest was the forefront of concerns and soft-hearted professors didn’t care to raise a complaint to the occasional four-legged attendee. Dogs could still walk untethered on campus outside of buildings. But after a large ill-tempered dog bit four students during a chemistry exam in 1973, (AK 233), the university started enforcing a 1971 rule requiring all dogs on campus be leashed (although I don’t think a 1972 recommendation for mandatory dog registration was approved). Tompkins County followed suit in 1980.

Gone are the days of dogs frolicking free on Cornell’s campus. Legally, anyway.

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[1] Altschuler, Glenn C. and Issac Kramnick. Cornell: A History, 1940-2015. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014. Print.





News Tidbits 11/22/14: The Quiet of An Early Winter

22 11 2014

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1. Here’s the first revision for the Maguire proposal in Ithaca town. With different building sizes and parking layouts, about the only thing that remains the same is the general site configuration. The planning committee packet has its retinue of numbers to help sell the town on the project; 50 new jobs and 100 transferred to the site (average wage $44,300), with an extra $2,000,000 in taxes for the town. The town is being cautious about the project because it relocates a proposed park (Saponi Meadows), and the project doesn’t fit with the just-completed Comprehensive Plan. Zoning would need to be amended, and the trail to Tutelo Park would hinge on a land donation to the town that also seems to involve them taking responsibility for the roads on Ithaca Beer’s property. Observant readers will recall Ithaca Beer is undergoing an expansion of its own.

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From SW to NE, you have the Subaru/Hyundai dealership, the Fiat/Alfa Romeo/Maserati dealership (those wealthier Cornellians need to get their GranTurismos and Ghiblis serviced somewhere), the corporate HQ and the Nissan dealership. The dealerships themselves will follow carmaker-approved design language, as the examples included in the packet suggest. Two lots on either side of the corporate office are tagged for future development, and an Audi/Porsche/Jaguar dealership is included in the dealership renderings, but not in the site plan. The project would be LEED certified, have electric car stations, walking trails, a loop road, and a coffee bar/cafe. Unique to the project would be apple and cherry orchards and vineyards – I suppose this is where the “artisanal” moniker comes in. We’ll see how warm the town is to the project after the presentation.

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2. In other presentations, this one for the county, the Old Library Committee is recommending that all four of the remaining Old Library proposals be asked to submit formal proposals. Last Friday, the county also opened up a 10-day comment period on the RFP draft document. Personally, I don’t see much to add to it, and most of it consists of things that would be great if one project had it all – but none will. It’s what HR recruiters call a “purple squirrel“, a perfect candidate that has a vanishingly small chance of applying. It requests green building, affordable housing, purchasable units, mixed uses, and a special meeting with the stringent ILPC (Ithaca Landmarks & Preservation Council; I recall notes from a recent meeting where they had an argument on whether solar panels were appropriate for historic buildings and districts). I don’t believe any project on that site can meet all those and still hope for a construction loan from a private entity. Condos (which is what purchasable units means in this case) are hard to get financing for, and affordable housing torpedoes the DPI and Franklin/O’Shae projects because they won’t break even at a lower price point, therefore no loan, no build.  I suspect Travis Hyde would also have the same problem, and the Cornerstone Group, while affordable, doesn’t have mixed use or green building measures. I understand it’ll be a “whatever comes closest” situation, but I feel like the county is setting itself and local residents up for a disappointment in one way or another.

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3. Looks like the Times has had a busy week writing about local projects. A piece on 114 Catherine, a piece on 323 Taughannock, an article about the Troy Road project, and a piece on the Chain Works District. Gee, I wonder where they got the idea that local developments make for interesting articles? A fifth entry notes 85 people attended the brainstorming session for the Neighborhood Pride site, which is simply fantastic.

If I’m to recommend any of the four, it would be the piece on the Chain Works/Emerson project, which is in-depth and broad in its review of the site and its environmental issues. The writeup on 323 Taughannock notes that developer Steve Flash originally wanted a taller building on site, but soil conditions combined with the costs for a more substantial foundation made it cost-prohibitive (and unlike the Purity project, this was discovered well before any plans were approved).


4. Compared to much of this year, this month’s Ithaca city planning board meeting looks to be rather quiet. Agenda with all the attachments here. INHS will be giving a description of their “visioning process” for the Neighborhood Pride site, which probably means a rundown of how they’re going to come up with the design (the goal is to present a sketch plan of the project in March or April). The 114 Catherine and 128 West Falls Street infill projects are in the last stages of review, some discussion of the environmental assessment form is scheduled for the Canopy Hotel, and Purity is still trying to amend its previously approved plan. Also in the itinerary, formal review will begin of the 3,400 sq ft DiBella’s planned for big box land. In terms of sketch plans, there’s a review for a new children’s garden at Cass Park, and a pair of duplexes (4 units total) for what is currently a parking lot at 112 Blair Street, behind the houses on the embedded map. 112 Blair is zoned CR-2, meaning parking, vegetative buffers, and hipped roofs are required. It needs to be 2-3 stories and permits a max of 35% lot coverage (it’s a 6,390 sq ft lot, so about 2235-3353 sq ft per duplex, 1117-1676 sq ft per unit). Infill is always welcome, though hopefully they aren’t as plain as their State Street neighbors built a few years ago. News next week will likely be lacking due to the holiday, so the next development roundup will probably be in December.

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On a final note, we’re averaging the third coldest year since records started in 1893. Damn it, I want my global warming.

Oh wait, here it is. Virtually everywhere else except Ithaca. Sigh.





Fast Facts: Cornell Postgraduate Surveys

18 11 2014

Unlike the other posts in the “Fast Facts” series, this information comes from Cornell Postgraduate Surveys conducted by Cornell Career Services.

Let’s be frank. People generally don’t go to college these days for educational enlightenment. It’s all about the return on investment, and that holds true for a school like Cornell. Here’s a look at some of the stats, courtesy of Cornell’s postgraduate surveys. Big disclaimer here – the response rate to these surveys is 70-75%, and I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the kids who find themselves with some motivation or bragging rights are probably the ones most likely to respond. Who wants to tell Cornell they’re living in Mom and Dad’s basement?

With that disclaimer aside, here’s the cold hard cash stats. These charts leave off the class of 2014 because they have six months to submit info – until the end of the month, in other words.

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Looking at the past several years, we can definitely see the influence of the 2008/2009 recession. “Other Endeavors” includes, travel, volunteer work, and actively seeking grad school/employment. This value has climbed by a third since 2008. The number of those attending grad school continues to drop from its recession high, while employed grads have rebounded. There’s a well-documented inverse relationship between the economy and grad school enrollment – people want to make that cash when the economy’s good, but they hunker down and work towards advanced degrees when the bear market is growling.

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Of those pursuing graduate studies, the top three, which are consistently the top three, are Engineering (M.Eng), Law School and Medicine. Law school has taken a hit in recent year due in part to the law school bubble bursting. The return on investment just isn’t what it used to be.

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Now some real meat – mean and median salaries for the university as a whole, and for each college. Both mean and median are right around $55k, helped substantially by those engineering salaries. Electrical/Mechanical/Computer Engineering pays, kids, if you can survive the four-year blow to your self worth (looking at you, Diff Eq). AAP is well below the average, pulling just over $43k in 2013; but AAP students also respond to the survey in smaller numbers, often only 40-50%. That could be a good thing (unreported high salaries) or a bad thing (living in Mom’s basement and too embarrassed to respond).

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Cornell breaks down respondents by the type of work they do. The big ones are financial services (I-Banking) and consulting (more financial work), which pull in 30% of the graduating class. In more recent years, “Technology”, your Google, Twitter and tech startup employees, has been booming, thanks to rapid growth and rapid rise in pay. If the last tech bubble burst in 2000/2001 was any indication, the number pursuing technology jobs will drop significantly when a market correction occurs.

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But in the meanwhile, tech is at the top of the average salaries graph, followed by our friends in banking. Coming as no surprise, the graph shows working at a non-profit pays relatively poorly. There does seem to be a direct relationship between how boring/morally ambiguous a job is and how much one gets paid.

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Lastly, average salaries by region. The West Coast (think Silicon Valley) leads the pack, followed by the always-expensive NYC Metro. Upstate New York is at the bottom, perhaps because 1) it’s a cheap place to live, and 2) the jobs in upstate don’t tend to be high-end finance or tech jobs; agriculture and education would be more likely. I can personally vouch for the West Coast being expensive; I was once offered a position in California that I estimated would incur an extra $20,000 in living expenses for things like rent, and the offered salary reflected that (I also discovered after they flew me out there for the interview/offer how much I would dislike the job, which threw me into a personal crisis…a fun story for another day).





News Tidbits 11/15/14: For Better Or Worse

15 11 2014

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1. I see the Journal (and Common Council) has touched on what is probably one of the biggest questions when it comes to housing in Ithaca – the affordability issue. As noted over at Ithaca Builds, it’s a complicated problem, and there is no silver bullet. We have a confluence of problems, many of them fortuitous – a growing economy and a desirable place to live, even if it has a dearth of developable land. On the other hand, wages aren’t going up as fast; so the problem gets worse. From 2000 to 2013, average income increased 61%, but home values over the same time increased about 105%.

I become very negative and cynical when I think about this issue. It gets lip service, but no one really wants to do anything about it. Development costs are expensive in Ithaca, so no developer wants to do it on their own dime. There’s also a mentality among some residents that affordable housing equates to ghettos and crime. West Hill is opposed to more affordable housing on their hill, South Hill would be very difficult due to simmering tension left from the Stone Quarry battle, Downtown’s too expensive without tax breaks, and Cornell students price out East Hill. There’s not much space that’s developable in the inner neighborhoods, only rare opportunities like the Neighborhood Pride site. Anything built outside the city is sprawl. I don’t see a solution to this problem. I only see it getting worse.

As for the hotel, the type of business it brings helps define the services offered by nearby retail. They probably won’t visit second-hand clothing stores, laundromats, or the local bank. But they will restaurants and bookstores and novelty shops. The shops will continue to evolve as they’ve always done – for better or worse, depending on who you ask.

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Switching gears but on the topic of hotels, Tompkins County and the city are making a killing on the high demand for hotel rooms, and 2015 is expected to be a banner year thanks to Cornell’s sesquicentennial and other big events. Literally, the report has “cha-ching!” written in the notes. According to the paperwork presented at the October Planning and Economic Development meeting, the city can comfortably accommodate either the Marriott, Canopy or Holiday Inn Express on 13 without a problem (no mention of the smaller hotel approved for 13, although it would be a blip in the market); the city/county can accommodate two of the three with only a minor hiccup. But if all three are built in the next couple years without a new driving force to bring in visitors, an older hotel further out in the county will likely close. My fingers crossed in the hope the Hotel Ithaca convention center gets the construction loans it needs, for that will be a boon to the hospitality market.

2. Looks like the land sale for the Amabel project is in the works after falling a little behind schedule. 617 Five Mile Drive is tentatively selling for the minimum price (the tax assessed value of $16,875), after New Earth Living’s initial bid for $10,000 was rejected. City gets money, land gets sold off and added to tax rolls, and down the line it gets used for housing. Win-win. I win as well, for a correct if easy prediction.

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3. The county’s IDA is reviewing tax abatements for Jason Fane’s 36-unit 130 East Clinton project, and the 20-unit mixed-use Carey Building addition proposed by Travis Hyde Companies. The document for the Carey Building reveals a construction time from of December 2014 to August 2015 for the $4.1 million project, and the number of REV incubator tenants is now up to 9. The reason for the abatement is to take the reduced costs created by the abatement, and move the new units from the upper-end of the rental market to the middle. The applicant writer does a pretty effective job selling it, saying that it will help ameliorate the dearth of affordable rental housing if approved. No new jobs are anticipated, but then, this doesn’t count any company in the incubator. The requested property tax abatement plan, and with sales/mortgage abatements, is valued at $850k over 10 years.

Looking at Fane’s project, the document notes a start and finish date in “2015, hopefully 2015 but most likely completed 2016“. That does not instill confidence. The construction cost is $4.4 million. The property tax abatement isn’t explicitly stated in the document, referring to a spreadsheet that wasn’t included in the upload. However, it says it’s following a standard 7 or 10-year plan, so it’s in the ballpark of several hundred thousand dollars. The sales and mortgage tax abatement is $200k.

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4. Here’s a site plan render of those “artisanal” car dealerships proposed by the Maguires. Both budget motels come down, but the “mosquito pond” as one commenter described it will still be there. Apparently, campus-like dealerships look a lot like corporate office parks. Saponi Meadows Park lies to the north of the line of trees, on the property adjacent to the Peachtree Lane homes. Saponi Meadows would be connected via the “Coregonel Remembrance Trail” to Tutelo Park in the upper right. The dealerships would be Subaru, Hyundai, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Nissan and the corporate office for the Maguires. The developers predict 40-50 new jobs if built out. Local firm Schickel Architecture is responsible for the site plan.

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5. It’s back. For the town planning board meeting next week, round two for the Troy Road housing development is about to begin. Some readers might recall this past winter, when it began as a 216-unit proposal. By August, it had entered red-tape hell, because neighbors were opposed to the PDZ it needed.  Details on the newest incarnation here. Now down to 130 units, a PDZ is no longer needed. The project will be comprised of 46 2-4 bedroom single-family homes, and 14 sets of 4-unit 1-2 bedroom townhomes (56 units total) and 14 duplexes (2 units each, 28 total). It seems a little odd to include single-family homes again, since those were cut from the last design because the developers weren’t sure there was a large enough market for them. Compared to the previous design,  this one is less sprawling, has an orchard and farm on-site, and looks to be eschewing the “rural agricultural”-style housing for modern units designed to exceed NYS Energy Code. With fewer units and no need for a PDZ, the project has a much better chance of approval.

6. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, regional scrap metal magnate Ben Weitsman just bought a former industrial site in Syracuse and plans a retail and hotel development on the site. What does have to do with Ithaca? Nothing, at a glance. But as I noted last month, Weitsman has plans for his Ithaca property, plans that are waiting on the Brindley Street bridge replacement. What exactly those plans are isn’t known quite yet. But now we know he isn’t just interested in expanding scrap yards.

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7. Another piece from the IJ, this one a meaty write-up on the Ithaca Gun cleanup progress. This (hoepfully) last round of decontamination should be complete by the start of Spring 2015. IFR Development LLC (Ithaca Falls Residences), a byproduct of Travis Hyde Companies, hopes to present sketch plans for 45 units of clustered townhouses in December. Some will be 2 stories, others 4 stories with upper and lower units stacked on each other.

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On a whim, I googled “Ithaca Falls Residences” and this report from September came up, complete with renderings. How close they are to the current product, I don’t know. But I suspect they’re not too far off. Adjusting the timeline numbers, it suggests an early 2017 completion.





Fast Facts: Cornell Students By Major

11 11 2014

As always, all data is taken from the Cornell University Factbook. Numbers used in this entry are for undergraduate enrollments.

Offhand, I can think of two mantras when it comes to first-tier higher education:
– Go into a STEM field.

– If you’re at a really good school for undergrad (Ivy plus), go for business.

The logic in both is fairly sound. STEM fields are in demand and pay well (and as someone in a STEM position, I say that with a very big asterisk). The other is that our most brilliant minds can get the most return on investment by going into financial services such as investment banking, where you work for for a couple years at a place like Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan, go back for a couple years of B-school, and find yourself making $250k at 32 as a vice president of some random business activity. The popularity of that easily earned, highly lucrative business degree is the reason why Cornell started offered a campus-wide minor in business; one-sixth of Cornell’s students go directly the financial sector, which is actually down a little bit from previous years.

There’s also a third mantra, much more negative than the first two: humanities doom you to unfulfilled jobs in coffee shops or years of fruitless grad school labor. Unfair certainly, but the academic stigma, also known as “what are you going to do with that degree?”, is strong for liberal arts majors.

I decided to take the numbers and see if there were any trends in enrollment in certain fields over the years. Below are Cornell’s enrollments from 2002-2013 by CIP, “Classification of Instruction Programs“, which is used by government entities to track enrollments by study.

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Looking at this, it’s easy to pick out some winners and losers over the past decade. Social Services, English, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Architecture have notable drops. Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Engineering, Agriculture and Business have grown. Liberal Arts shows no strong trend. Computer Science shows an interesting parabolic shape, which can be attributed to the tech bubble bursting in the early 2000s, and taking a few years to recover before entering the current tech boom.

I’m going to take three years – 2003, 2008 and 2013, and split them into “STEM” and “non-STEM” for this next plot. The unknowns and multidisciplinary majors will be removed and I’m going to treat business separately. Non-STEM will be history, performing arts, social sciences, social services, psychology, philosophy, liberal arts, english, family and consumer science, foreign languages, education, personal services, communication, architecture, and area/cultural studies.  STEM will be physical sciences, nutritional science, math, biology, engineering, computer science, natural resources and agriculture. I’ve made an attempt to separate “hard” sciences from “soft” sciences, and I realize there’s plenty of room for debate which categories belong in STEM and non-STEM, but I’ll leave that out for now.

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Over time, non-STEM is decreasing, while STEM and business are increase their share of the Cornell student population. It could be that there’s genuinely more interest in business and STEM, or Cornell students could simply be more pragmatic these days, choosing things that offer cold hard cash versus the educational enlightenment of the arts and humanities. Feel free to leave your comments.





News Tidbits 11/8/14: Getting the Word Out

8 11 2014

1. Let me start by acting all civic-minded and promote the public meeting INHS is hosting for the Neighborhood Pride site in the Northside neighborhood of the city. November 12th, 4:30-7:30 PM, inside the former grocery at 210 Hancock Street. As Jason at Ithaca Builds noted a few months back, this will likely be the largest development on the north side since the 1950s.

Here’s why your opinion is important. The site has walking access to many local venues, affordable housing is in very high demand, and the site as it currently stands is underutilized and an easy target for vandalism. INHS is looking to avoid a repeat of the battle that happened with Stone Quarry, and is actively engaging with the community to see what will and won’t mesh with neighbors. In theory (under zoning and given some assumptions), the site could host nearly 200 units of housing.  The city has already expressed a strong preference for an owner-occupied housing component, and the city comprehensive plan supports some small-scale commercial uses at the site, with higher-density residential. There have even been reports that the Sciencenter is interested in playing a role. So that’s the sort of framework here; how much housing, what proportion of renters vs. owners, and what sort of mixed uses if any.

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2. Well, this isn’t good – according to the Ithaca Journal, recent findings by Unchained Properties, the developer for the Chain Works District (a.k.a. the Emerson redevelopment), suggest the site is even more contaminated than previously thought. While the developer has said it remains committed to the project, I dread an Ithaca Gun repeat, where continually-worse pollution causes the project to grind to a standstill. According to the purchase agreement that Unchained Properties has with Emerson (which although it closed up shop in 2010, still owns the site), Emerson pays for all the remediation, which I suppose they’re okay with if it means getting rid of the site from their asset lists. A draft environmental impact statement is due for submission sometime after Christmas, with several city/town/developer meetings and discussions in the meanwhile.

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3. Now, I know everyone’s been complaining – we need more more suburban GeneriMerican chain restaurant boxes with ample parking. Your prayers have been answered! This time, the newcomer is DiBella’s, a chain sub sandwich restaurant based out of Rochester with about 43 locations scattered throughout six states in the Northeast and Midwest. Dibella’s “theme” is a vague 1930s/1940s look; the one near my office is just really dimly lit, reminiscent of my dead grandmother’s living room. Snark aside, the chain is looking to build a 3,400 sq ft building on an outparcel pad property at 222 Elmira Road – just north of Five Guys, and behind the Ithaca Shopping Plaza. Follows the “real estate guidelines” on Dibella’s website near-perfectly. Cover letter here, site plan review application here, more drawings and renders here, full environmental assessment form here. The application states that the construction cost will be about $600,000 and the time frame is from February to August 2015. They’ll need a BZA variance for lot coverage, which I don’t foresee being an issue. The plan is by NYC-based Marx Realty. It’s tax money, it’s “5+/-” jobs. Meh.

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4. Some minor revisions to 114 Catherine, new renders here. Compared to the previous iteration, it has a little more detailing on the concrete base, and they changed up the panes in those corner windows. here’s the traffic plan, which kinda just states that students have access to buses, bike racks, delivery space and a little parking in the rear, and their own two feet. This one’s pretty much good to go for approval.

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5. Friday the 7th, the county has another meeting to discuss the Old Library site, this one to finalize and release the actual RFP. For those interested in going tomorrow, it’s at 3 PM in the Heyman conference room at 125 East Court Street. I have a major concern here – the final choice on developer was supposed to be in March 2015. Now it’s January 2016. The county is putting an additional strain on all the proposals, because labor and material costs are increasing. This has the potential to remove desirable features from projects, or cause developers to simply walk away. The county was very fortunate to have six expressions of interest for the site; two have already walked away. If the county doesn’t get its act together or is perceived to be acting in bad faith, the potential is there for very few or no proposals when the due date comes in March 2015. It will be a very uncomfortable day for the legislature if that happens.

6. This could be interesting – according to the Times, the Maguire family (the ones with all the car dealerships) are proposing a new set of dealerships on the site of the current Rodeway Inn, south of the city on Rte. 13. The inn is looking to move to California (claiming the hotel boom is hurting his business) and the Maguires are proposing the following moves:

>Move sales of their Subaru-Hyundai, Fiat-Alfa Romeo, and Nissan dealerships — from Elmira Road out to the new site in the town. The site is currently vacant land, and the Economy and Rodeway Inns would be removed.

>relocate its Chevrolet Cadillac dealership from Lansing to southwest Ithaca city, where a new building would be built

>renovate its Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram dealership in front of Wegmans.

It sounds like the only place losing business is Lansing. In a blend in all that is obnoxious and trendy in today’s planning, they’re calling it an “artisanal car dealership”. You sir, get a facepalm. Apparently, artisanal here means “modern architecture and a naturesque, university-style campus”. “Naturesque”. Another facepalm. Regardless of artisanal features, the project requires relocating the town’s proposed Saponi Meadows Park, and doesn’t fit with their comprehensive plan. Any movement on this will be slow (they tell the town they’re shooting for late 2015-2016 for a start date); but when those fancy artisanal renders come up, you’ll see copies of them here.





Fast Facts: Cornell Students By NY County

4 11 2014

Unless otherwise noted, all source data comes from the Cornell University Factbook. For this, I’m only going to focus on the undergraduate population.

When I was a student at Cornell (oh, for those halcyon days of the late 2000s…yes, I am joking), there was a quip that 38% of the students come from New York State, but 90% of them are from New York City and its suburbs. An exaggeration, but the large presence of Westchester and Nassau and the like was forever a source of tension, if only a minor one. With access to Cornell’s enrollment figures, we can see by just how much downstaters dominate the student population.

For anyone from outside of New York, this post probably won’t be a whole lot of interest to you. But for the kids that want to play along at home, here’s a map of the counties of New York, all 62 of them.

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In what should be a surprise to absolutely no one, Nassau County on Long Island and Westchester County comprise the largest sources of Cornell undergrads – 654 and 607 students respectively. Given 14,453 undergrads in fall 2014, that means these two counties alone account for 8.72% of the UG population. NYS students number 4,602 of that 14,453, 31.84% of the student body. If we define downstate as Orange, Putnam, and everything south (the definition of where upstate and downstate divide is fraught with contention, so I’m going with a rough middle ground), then downstate comprises 2,971 of those 4,602 students, 64.56%, or just under two-thirds. Only one county has no representation at Cornell – Hamilton, which has only 4,773 residents (2013 estimate), the smallest population for any county in the state.

Now, I can already hear the commentary now – “BC, you misleading and ignorant a–hole, these numbers should be presented per capita.” Way ahead of you, irritable dear reader. I downloaded the 2013 county census estimates and decided to do a little data magic, looking at enrollment per 100,000 residents of a given county.

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Tompkins dominates, no surprise there. Westchester is next, showing that living in a county comprised of mostly affluent, tony suburbs with school districts to match is handy for getting into the Ivy Leagues. From there, we see it’s a mix of New York City’s affluent suburbs and counties close to Tompkins – though St. Lawrence, up by the Quebec border. is something of an anomaly.

One more thing I wanted to write up before concluding this post, which really only scrapes the tip of the iceberg. The percentage of NYS students continues to decrease as the enrollment increases, as shown below. In fall 2002, 38.93% of students came from NYS; in fall 2008, that number shrank to 33.85%; and by fall 2014, 31.84%. I have no idea if the state has any sort of minimum number or floor percentage that Cornell must adhere to, but if the trend continues, I could imagine some legislators pushing for one.

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In sum – the 38% value hasn’t been accurate since 2002, so that quip was outdated by the time I started my time at the Big Red. The 90% value is also a little high, but there’s definitely a large contingent of NYC suburbanites in the student population, and it doesn’t see, so large when broken down to per capita values.