Ithaca Commons Repair & Upgrade Project

Project Updates: For current project updates, please visit the Ithaca Commons Project Updates web site.

In July 2009, the city began working with Sasaki Associates, a Boston-based design firm, to begin the process of evaluating and planning for the future upgrades and repairs to the Commons.

The project began with a number of stakeholder input meetings. Since then, Sasaki has worked closely with city staff and a 15-member client committee, appointed by the mayor, to understand the needs, concerns, and wishes expressed by the public for the future of the Commons. In addition, Clough Harbor, a civil engineering firm and sub-consultant to Sasaki, evaluated the conditions of all the utilities beneath the Commons' surface. The consultants concluded that utility and surface repairs will be extensive and much of the Commons may need to be demolished in order to complete the repairs.

The consultant prepared 3 conceptual design options for this project, which were presented at a special joint meeting of the Common Council and Board of Public Works on Wednesday, October, 21, 2009. The public was invited to attend and submit written comments on the plans to the city. After careful consideration of public feedback, the Common Council voted on January 6, 2010 to approve a concept design that combined elements from 2 of these options - Bank Alley as shown in Option 2, and State Street as shown in Option 3 - resulting in a preferred Concept Design. In the fall of 2010, the Common Council accepted the preliminary design concept and authorized funding for design development and the preparation of construction drawings.

Tree Assessments
One of the major outstanding issues associated with this project is the trees. Due to tree locations, health, planting conditions, and growth patterns, Sasaki recommended the removal of many of the trees on the Commons as a part of this project. In order to fully assess the conditions of the trees, the city hired Urban Arborist. Urban Arborist completed a full assessment of each of the major trees on the Commons and prepared a report of its findings. The city has been using this report to work with the Client Committee and Sasaki Associates to determine the best course of action regarding the maintenance, removal, replacement, or transplantation of the trees on the Commons.

Current State
Along with Trowbridge Wolf Michaels, LaBella Associates, and HOLT Architects, Sasaki Associates has been contracted to complete the final design of this project. Please email any comments or questions about this project to Jennifer Kusznir.

Currently, the city has only authorized funding for the design phase and preparation of construction drawings for the project. The city has actively been searching for funding options for the construction of this project. On March 19, the city applied for a U.S. Department of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant (TIGER). If awarded, this grant would fund 60% of a project that includes the full reconstruction of the Ithaca Commons, the full reconstruction of Stewart Avenue, and an upgrade of the TCAT loop between downtown and Cornell, to increase its efficiency and frequency.

Utility, Surface, & Amenity Repair/Upgrade Project
On September 5, 2012, Sasaki Associates formally presented the design for the Commons repair and upgrade project to the Common Council. The project is currently undergoing Site Plan Review, with the Planning and Development Board.
Key Documents
Sasaki Associates October 23, 2012 Planning and Development Board meeting presentation:
Sasaki Associates September 5, 2012 Common Council meeting presentation:
Commons Landscape
Sasaki Associates presentation made at March 1-2, 2012 public meetings:
Sasaki Arborist Report (PDF) - Submitted on November 25, 2011, this report provides a full assessment of each of the major trees on the Commons, including species, size, condition, and life expectancy.

Ithaca Commons Preliminary Design (PDF) - Sasaki Associates presented the City with a preliminary Design Report in September of 2010. This report contains a schematic design plan that was accepted by the Common Council.