Public questions

We have answers to some questions frequently asked by people.

About Lake street townhomes

The Lake Street Townhomes is an exciting new development of 16 market-rate townhouses that will be available for sale to the local community upon completion of construction.

The project team has received questions and comments from the community regarding the project. Those questions and comments, along with the project team's responses, are outlined below.

1. What is the proposed project?

The project will consist of 16 market-rate townhouses along Lake Street: 12 four-bedroom townhouses and 4 three-bedroom townhouses.

2. Will the townhouses be offered for sale?

Yes, the 16 townhouses will be individually listed for sale. The legal structure will be a Homeowners Association that will oversee the outdoor amenities.

3. Who can live there?

The townhomes will be marketed to anyone who wants to live there, including families and professionals.

4. What is the timeline for construction and completion?

The project team is working with the Planning Board to establish a clear timeframe for project approval. It is anticipated that construction may begin in mid 2024, with occupancy in 2025.

5. What are the parking requirements for the townhomes?

The zoning requirements for the project are 28 parking spaces. 16 parking spaces will be located on site, while an additional 15 parking spaces will be leased long-term from the neighboring private parking lot within 500'.  

6. What will the townhomes look like?

The design of the townhomes will be contextual to the local community. They will be visually appealing, functional, and integrated into the natural landscape. A very preliminary indication of the townhomes' design is below.

7. Will the townhomes be visible from the Ithaca Falls?

Since the Falls viewing area is at the bottom of the gorge, the townhomes will not be large enough or tall enough to be visible from the Ithaca Falls.

8. Will the invasive plant species be removed as part of the development plan?

Yes, where there is site disturbance, the invasive plant species will be removed and replaced with native plants to restore the natural, native habitat.

9. Will the townhomes be sustainable?

Yes, the townhomes will be sustainable. The City of Ithaca’s Energy Code Supplement is a very progressive set of guidelines and this project will meet or exceed all standards.

10. There is no sidewalk in front of the property. Will one be constructed?

Yes, a much-needed sidewalk will be constructed to connect the Ithaca Falls to the parking lot further up Lake Street. Street trees will also be planted.

11. Is the property contaminated?

There is minor contamination in the north-east corner of the property caused by the direction of water flow from the former Ithaca Gun Factory. Fortunately, this portion of the property will not be disturbed by construction and therefore should not be of concern. In other areas of the site, background levels of contamination were discovered similar to any home in the Ithaca area. This is below the levels where any remediation is required by State and Federal regulations.

To read more about the project's commitment to contamination control, click HERE to view Ithaca Townhomes' Soil Management Plan.

12. What if contamination is discovered during construction?

Should any contamination be discovered during soil disturbance construction activities, the project's world-class environmental expert, Partner Engineering & Science Inc., has outlined the procedures that should be followed as part of the project's Soil Management Plan. The detailed plan describes the protocol for the proper handling and disposal of any contaminated soil discovered during construction, as well as how to mitigate any airborne concerns associated with the soil-disturbing activities. An environmental expert will be overseeing the day-to-day soil disturbing operations from the first day of construction activity until soil disturbance is complete. The work area will be under their supervisory control and only those with permitted access will be allowed onto the site.

The Soil Management Plan also has a Health & Safety Plan that details the procedures if any accidents occur with, not just contaminant exposure, but heavy equipment or situational hazards. There will be multiple sets of monitoring equipment. A photoionization detector screens soils, screens breathing zones, and even detects the presence of volatile compounds within the breathing zone. There will also be continual dust monitoring equipment at the site that will monitor the particulates in the air. Procedures will be in place to minimize the creation of dust as well as the migration of dust to any off-site neighboring properties. There are also provisions for unexpected subsurface conditions should they be encountered, for example, if a pocket of soil is discovered that requires special handling. There are also provisions to stop work and reevaluate the situation if any hazardous chemical exposures are met.

To read more about the project's commitment to contamination control, click HERE to view Ithaca Townhomes' Soil Management Plan.

13. Are there any other environmental concerns with the proposed project?

While there is significant environmental contamination in the vicinity of the project, this will not be disturbed during construction. As outlined by Barton & Loguidice, a third-party firm engaged to evaluate the site, and the same firm that oversaw some of the City of Ithaca sponsored environmental mitigation, “The [subject property] is not a brownfield site, or in any remedial program. It has not been cleaned up, and nothing reviewed to date suggests it would be subject to NYSDEC regulatory oversight.”

Groundwater was not encountered to a maximum depth of 15 feet when Partner Engineers conducted the Phase II Environmental Report. There was drilling refusal due to rock under the building footprint between 7.5 and 14 feet below ground surface (bgs). Based on this information, they do not anticipate encountering groundwater, especially contaminated groundwater. The soil gas samples do not indicate that any levels that would require more than a vapor barrier to prevent potential risk from volatile organic compounds that might migrate to the site.

A groundwater collection system is not necessary as the documented groundwater impacts have been to the north and east of the site. Unexpected contamination can be encountered on any non-greenfield site. This project is a redevelopment of an area that has been thoroughly studied and the studies produced by Partner do not indicate that hazardous waste will be removed from the site and require disposal, therefore on the Environmental Assessment Form, this was indicated. But, as a precaution, the previously submitted Soil Management Plan lays out procedures for ongoing monitoring and, in the event unexpected contamination is encountered, procedures for handling and disposing of contaminated soil materials.

The project will require a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan ("SWPPP") prepared by Passero Associates. The project will utilize stormwater planters and underground storage cells. The SWPPP will be reviewed by City Engineering and must demonstrate that runoff from the project does not exceed the existing condition.

14. What are the traffic impacts of the 16 new townhouses?

The traffic in the Fall Creek neighborhood is particularly congested during pickup and drop-off times for the three schools in the vicinity. As per the report prepared by the traffic engineer, Passero, the proposed project is expected to generate approximately eight total vehicle trips during the weekday AM peak hour and nine total vehicle trips during the weekday PM peak hour. This number of additional trips in the neighborhood can be expected to be even lower because of the walkable nature of the site, the short walking distance to major employment at Cornell, where parking is expensive and complicated, and the Ithaca City Schools. The report indicates that surveys show less than half of Tompkins County residents drive to work, likely fewer in the walkable neighborhood of Fall Creek.

15. Are there plans to improve the existing street along the East Lincoln Street Extension?

Yes, the East Lincoln Street Extension will be improved to better facilitate emergency vehicle and fire truck access. A ‘Scenic and Recreational River Permit’ is being requested only for the smoothing of the existing street grade, and installation of asphalt pavement. The access to the existing public parking will be maintained and improved as the existing pavement is in poor condition. Pedestrian safety will be improved with a new crosswalk at the junction of Lake Street and East Lincoln Street.

16. Given the topography of the site, will there be any retaining walls visible to the public along Lake Street?

No, there will be no retaining walls visible to the public along Lake Street. There will be no retaining walls within the 'Scenic and Recreational River Permit' boundary. Internal retaining walls on the development site will be screened by vines, shrubs, and trees, and located behind the townhouses so as to not be visible to the public from Lake Street.

17. Will there be any negative impacts to the Ithaca Falls Natural Area?

No, there will be no negative impacts to the Ithaca Falls Natural Area. Ithaca Falls is a natural wonder, and any nearby interventions must respect its beauty and character.

We remind the Planning Board and the public that this site is a highly disturbed former industrial area that hosted several mills, including a paper mill, on the project site. Photographs on this website depict the paper mill and its environs, including the mill raceway that was located between the Ithaca Falls and the site of the townhouses. The topography was changed significantly from the natural topography through the creation of the mills and was changed again in the aftermath of the demolition of the raceway and mills. The mounded area of the existing gravel city parking was created by site fill sometime in the 1960s. The fact that it is not natural topography is readily apparent. The site grading for the Lake Street Townhomes will not impact any natural landforms.

Photography taken in January 2024 show that the project site is not visible from the Ithaca Falls walking trail, and, conversely, the Falls is not visible from East Lincoln Street Extension. This is the case even in winter with no leaves on the trees. The townhouses will not diminish or impact the visitor experience to the Ithaca Falls trailhead and walking path.

18. Is the project applying for any tax abatements?

No, there are no plans for any tax abatement program.

19. Will local union labor be used for construction?

The project intends to use local union labor to the extent available and logistically and financially feasible.

20. Who is the project team?

The project team are local experts with decades of combined experience in the Ithaca Community.

(Approximate outline of the subject parcel.)