In the last sixty years, the largest development project on South Hill was the relocation of Ithaca College (IC) from downtown Ithaca to its present location atop South Hill, directly across State Highway 96B from the proposed Chain Works District project. The relocation of the IC campus to South Hill happened without the benefit of a draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dGEIS). This should serve as a good example of why dGEIS documents are important when assessing the impact large developments have on climate change.
In today’s climate, fossil fuel consumption is by far the most pressing issue facing our environment and dGEIS should address this issue directly. For instance, IC is currently reevaluating its fossil fuel consumption to correspond with the 2009 Ithaca College Climate Action Plan (ICCAP), which calls for IC to be fossil-fuel free by 2050.
The Chain Works District (CWD) has the potential to become the largest consumer of fossil fuels on South Hill within the next ten to fifteen years. For this reason I believe the CWD developer, Unchained Properties, LLC (UP), should work cooperatively with IC and other large energy consumers on South Hill to create a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that commits all parties to the common goal of becoming fossil-fuel free by 2050 or before.
Mitigating climate change should be included in Ithaca’s fGEIS for the Chain Works District if, for no other reason, its sheer size. One way this could be accomplished is to include in the fGEIS for the CWD that monthly meetings be held within the South Hill community to develop a CAP for South Hill. The SHCA pledges to continue working with the entire South Hill community on issues related to fossil fuel reduction and we hope that the fGEIS for the CWD will help us accomplish our goal.
President, South Hill Civic Association
Founding member, Ithaca Community Energy Inc.