As the former and current chairs of the Tompkins County Legislature, we enthusiastically support the development of the waterfront area of the City of Ithaca. For decades the City and County have worked to transform this area from an industrial district of the City to a vibrant, walkable mixed-use neighborhood. There are several projects now in the works, that together will absolutely transform this underused part of our community, providing jobs, easy access to medical care, much-needed housing for all income levels, public access to the water, innovative sustainable infrastructure, and more.
The cliché is true: “It takes a village” to envision this kind of transformation and see it through to completion. We and many other City, County, and State elected officials and staff have worked for years to support this transformation, developing the relevant policies, supporting grant applications, and even getting the NYSDOT to move its facility from the waterfront to land near the airport.
This spring – just as the first two projects were about to begin final design and construction – the NYSDOT issued an evaluation that created a new barrier to the projects being built. In a joint meeting of City and County elected officials and staff, Anna Kelles took the lead in developing a strategy to respond. While others wrung their hands in frustration, Anna was the one who took the initiative in April to draft the letter we needed. Others reviewed it at length, gave extensive input, and signed off, and eventually it was sent to the NYSDOT.
Anna Kelles is widely known for this kind of proactive work in support of our community’s values and needs in her role as a County Legislator. All too many great ideas, wonderful projects, and well-meaning initiatives get started, but flounder because nobody stepped up to see them through. We are confident that we will all benefit from Anna’s dedication and commitment, if she becomes our Assemblyperson representing us in Albany.