Construction work is underway on the Ithaca Commons. Actually, it is deconstruction work that is actually occurring. The City has removed the pavilion roofs and the demolition contractor has removed the trees and foliage. Soon the wood panel fence will be going up and the removal of the planters will begin.
I have been struck by the numbers of people who have come up to me to talk about the new Commons view. Scores of people have commented on how open and inviting the Commons space has become, even in the midst of a construction zone. One gentleman remarked to me that he had not seen this view of Cornell and East Hill and breadth of State/MLK Street since before the Commons was installed some 40 years ago.
We noticed the change immediately, even when the roofs were removed from the pavilions. All of a sudden the Commons felt lighter and the plaza space felt larger. You could actually see some of the historic facades on the buildings. When the foliage was removed, the look was even more pronounced. The buildings have become prominent, their architecture now showcased. The Commons feels spacious, the views are long and majestic. It feels safer and more secure. The pedestrian mall appears grander in scale.
If you have not experienced this change, I urge you to come downtown and walk the Commons. See for yourself these new views and vistas.
The Commons rebuild project is likely to have several different points in time where the public will get to see and experience something new and different. This is one of those points. It is fascinating to behold. Be sure you get to experience this remaking of our center city.
The Downtown Ithaca Alliance and the City of Ithaca have announced the recent hire of Tammy Baker as the Outreach Coordinator for the Ithaca Commons Repair and Upgrade Project. Working closely with Project Manager Mike Kuo and DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson, Ms. Baker will be responsible for communicating with property owners, businesses and residents throughout the construction process via regular face-to-face visits as well as printed and electronic bulletins.
Baker was selected from an outstanding pool of 110 applicants. The hiring committee was impressed by her exceptional communication skills honed through twenty years as a mediator, facilitator, and training consultant in the Ithaca community. Most recently, she served as Program Director of the Community Dispute Resolution Center (CDRC), where she managed all aspects of the agency’s mediation programs, coached and managed over 40 volunteers and staff members, and served as a liaison to a number of community committees. Since 2010, she has also served as the Chair of the Fall Creek Neighborhood Association. Says Gary Ferguson of Baker’s selection, “She brings a great combination of communication and mediation skills with the experience of heading a neighborhood association. She emerged as the best choice for this position.” Added Mike Kuo, “Her local network and familiarity with a vast cross-section of the community and her status as a longtime resident of Ithaca set her apart from the competition.”
When asked about her goals for the next 18 months, Baker said her priority is to “keep the Commons merchants and tenants informed every step of the way. I am passionate about listening and explaining – listening carefully so people feel heard and understood, and explaining what is happening so neighbors, tenants and all community members feel informed.” While her extensive professional experience has prepared her well for this challenging task, Baker also acknowledges having a personal stake in the success of the Commons rebuild project. “Ithaca is my home; I have lived here for over 30 years. I would love to contribute to an even more vibrant downtown. I am really looking forward to the celebration party when the project is complete, and the Commons being a more inviting place to shop and meet friends.”
Tammy Baker’s office is on the ground floor of the Rothschild Building at 215 The Commons. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-216-8663.