Local News: October 10, 2023

- Some Ithaca first responders issue statement opposing city’s new homeless encampment policy -

Over 60 Ithaca police and emergency responders have signed a letter critical of the city’s new homeless encampment policy. The policy creates a “Green Zone” where camping is legal and services like toilets, garbage collection, and phone charging stations will be available. However, the policy doesn’t have an enforcement plan for those living outside the zone. According to the Ithaca Journal, the signers say the policy will inadvertently encourage criminal activity in the area of the West End called the “Jungle”. They say that emergency medical care and fire services can’t work in the area without a police presence. The statement says, “Those who are homeless require assistance and security, ‘The Jungle’ provides neither.” The Common Council unanimously approved the policy. It will be reviewed annually.

- Cornell commits over $1.5 million toward child care in Tompkins County -

Cornell University is committing to give over $1.5 million to improve childcare access in Tompkins County. The Ivy League university announced it is giving $300,000 for the next five years to the Child Development Council of Central NY. The funding is to expand or start full-time childcare services in Tompkins County. Cornell is also giving the Council $72,000 to hire someone to manage the contribution. Tompkins County is considered a childcare desert. There’s only space for a third of the children seeking care. The announcement was made on Monday, two days before the Ithaca Common Council is set to vote on a controversial payment agreement with Cornell. The university is tax-exempt. Cornell is offering to pay $4 million a year over the next 21 years with increases linked to inflation instead of property taxes. Criticism of the plan has grown among residents, faculty, and students since it was announced. Last week, over 200 Cornell faculty members signed an open letter criticizing the offer as too little for too long. This year the university gave the City of Ithaca $1.6 million instead of property taxes. The city says real estate owned by Cornell is worth $33 million if it were taxed.

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