By Jaime Cone  |  Ithaca Times  |  Sep 2, 2019

Trumansburg neighbors remain at odds over Crescent Way

Trumansburg townhomes

Affordable for-sale townhomes that would be available if Crescent Way in Trumansburg is approved.

Members of the public filled the Trumansburg Fire Hall Aug. 29 and shared strong opinions about Crescent Way, a proposed housing project to be located on South Street in the Village Trumansburg. The majority—but not all—of the commenters argued against the project. 

Crescent Way, formerly known as 46 South Street, is a mixed use, mixed income development located on a 19-acre parcel. The current plans call for a two-story 40-unit apartment building, six affordable rental townhouses, 10 affordable for-sale townhomes, and nine for-sale market rate lots that will accommodate up to 17 units.

Crescent Way community building

The front view of the Crescent Way community building, a 40-unit apartment building.

Also in the plans is a new school building that Trumansburg Community Nursery School will lease from Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS), one of the project’s developers. (The project is a partnership between INHS, local architect and landowner Claudia Brenner and the nursery school.) 

About 75 members of the public came to the public hearing, and about half of those in attendance made a public comment. Each speaker was given three minutes to speak, and the meeting lasted a little more than two hours. 

Before the public hearing began, Trumansburg Planning Board Chair Jessica Giles requested that everyone be respectful of one another. “What makes civics work is civility,” she said. 

Giles turned the meeting over to Adam Walters of Phillips Lytle, LLP, attorney for the developers.

Walters gave a brief presentation that included slides of illustrated renderings of the proposed buildings. 

He walked those in attendance through the previous stages of the project, starting with the original concept plan presented more than two years ago when the project was dubbed Hamilton Square. True to its name, Hamilton Square’s residences were arranged in a boxy configuration. Backlash from the Trumansburg community and feedback from the planning board prompted the developers to redesign the project. 

“”It was changed substantially,” Walters said. “It’s now an oval, to follow the contours of the land and meld the project into the site, rather than flatten everything and build around.” 

Walters characterized Crescent Way as an “intergenerational and mixed income community where seniors can age in place, local workforce can rent and young families can purchase homes in a very competitive local housing market,” a statement with which several members of the public objected. 

“What I’m afraid we’re doing is creating an economically segregated neighborhood, which I don’t think can be found in other places in Trumansburg,” said Janice Frossard. 

Many residents voiced concerns about added traffic noise and construction noise. “Right now on Hector Street there is an amazing amount of traffic,” said Nancy Young, who lives on South Street Extension and does massage and healing work on Hector Street. 

“We hear the buses on South Street,” Young said, adding that she believes she would hear construction noise from her home on top of the sound of additional traffic. 

Several Trumansburg residents recounted their experiences with swampy back yards and flooded basements and told the planning board that building on the proposed site is not a good idea; there is too much standing water, they said. 

Jack Katz said he is dismayed about the way the project as put neighbors on opposite sides of a heated issue. 

“Neighbors look at each other differently,” Katz said. “My wife and I feel that our quality of life is diminished. We look at each other and say ‘this has ruined our lives.’”

Anne Koreman, the Tompkins County legislator representing Trumansburg, spoke in favor of the project. “I wanted to speak on behalf of the Tompkins County Legislature…we are always trying to figure out how to get more housing in this area because we have a lot of people that drive into this area because we do have jobs,” Koreman said.

Koreman added that it is better for the environment for people to live in close proximity to their work. People who own homes in the village pay property taxes, and those who rent contribute to sales tax, she said. People residing within the village help maintain a vibrant community, which is important, she said, “because we’ve lost several business over the last year, and our school enrollment is down.” 

Rachel Kennedy, Trumansburg resident, said she supports the proposal because she believes it will provide much needed affordable housing and help to prevent outward sprawl. She said she is “still struck by how strong, timely, and exciting the project seems.” 

“Density makes sense from an economic and environmental perspective,” Kennedy said. “I’d love to see Trumansburg participate in the proactive, intelligent, purposeful sort of growth I believe this project represents.”

The planning board has 45 days from the day of the public hearing to reconvene and make a determination about whether or not to give the project preliminary approval.