Ecovillage Has More Competition Coming

24 05 2013


As noted in the Ithaca Times, the eco-conscious folks who developed the Aurora Street Pocket Neighbrohood have a new proposal in the works. The location for this one, however, isn’t as urban – the site is located off of Five Mile Drive, just west of Elmira Road and the southwest area’s suburban big-box land (fun fact – the road starts at an intersection with Elmira Road five miles from the shores of Cayuga Lake, hence the name).  This general area has seen a sizable number of single-family homes built in the past decade, though nothing multi-unit like the proposal.

Speaking of which, the basic stats – ~36 units, “craftsman” style homes 1-2 floors, single or 3-unit properties depending on preference, and a common house/community center. Enough of seems to be up in the air style-wise that New Earth Living is asking interested parties to fill out surveys or email them, so they can flesh out their proposal. Style-wise, we already have a good idea what this might look like by looking at the Aurora Street Pocket Neighborhood, which consists of one renovated home and 4 units in three newly-built properties tucked in from the corner Aurora and Marshall. Green construction, solar panels, LED lighting, food grown on property, but no true farm on the property, and units are clustered but still separate – in some ways, this project seems like a toned-down version of Ecovillage.

Ithaca has a lot of folks that lean far left, and a lot of development going on as of late. This seems like a pretty natural outcome of those two forces. Hopefully, this will be a project the community can get excited about as it moves forward.

The EcoVillage

9 05 2013

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Although I take a lot of jabs at “hippies”, the reason I never made it to Ecovillage before now had less to do with any personal stance and more to do with the fact it was just out of my way. Rachel Carson Way lies about a mile and a half westward of Inlet Island, nestled in the hills opposite from Cornell. This means that when I past through, it’s farthest out of my way, so time often being a priority, it always sat on the bucket list. Finally, I made the conscious effort to take a trip up on my last photo tour.

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Ecovillage runs on the concept of co-housing, which in many ways runs close to most people’s idea of a commune (and mentally, I still find myself referring to it as a commune). There are optional shared dinners, a community-based work system, and of course, being in tune with the natural environment. Hence, solar arrays, housing designed to minimize energy use, foods grown on the property,  and so forth. Ecovillage isn’t unique, not even in Tompkins County (White Hawk in Danby is a smaller but similar concept). But it is probably one of the best known developments of its kind.

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Ecovillage began planning in 1992-1993, when stakeholders purchased a former farm with the intent of launching an eco-friendly community.  The first neighborhood, FROG (First Resident Group), began construction in 1995 and was completed two years later. The second community, SONG (Second Neighborhood Group), received site plan approval in 2001, and was built in three phases over five years. Each of these neighborhoods has 30 units with a community center. The community also has a few other bells and whistles, like a passive bus shelter, a root cellar, carports and a berry farm. The pre-Ecovillage farmhouse and barn are now a separate property holding an antique shop and the City Lights B&B.

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Ecovillage is well underway with its third neighborhood, TREE. At 40 units, TREE is slightly larger than the first two neighborhoods. Construction is definitely underway, and the majority of the community should be complete before the end of the year. Also worth a quick note, a 900 sq ft “Gourd Workshop” was under construction when I passed through. More additions, like an education center and a roadside farm stand, are in the works.

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If you don’t want to be a creeper like me, Ecovillage opens itself up for a free public tour at 3 PM on the first Saturday of each month. That way, you can avoid being like me, trying to take photos when kids keep wandering in front of them, and having that awkward realization that you look like a child predator.

News Tidbits 9/14: Old People and Hippies Like Ithaca

15 09 2009

Conifer Village

Two little planning tidbits of note. One is that a company that specializes in senior citizen housing complexs is scouting sites in the town of Ithaca near the Cayuga Medical Center [1]. The company is currently beginning work on a $10 million, 120-unit complex in Horseheads, which is effectively suburban Elmira (yes, people actually live in Elmira, and it’s a lot like Ithaca, just without the prosperity and colleges). The parcels the company is checking out aren’t too far from one senior citizens’ facility already located on West Hill, a 36-bed facility known as Alterra [2]. None of the company’s facilities are subsidized, so it’s unlikely to be different if an Ithaca location was constructed. This comes on the heels of the Conifer Village senior housing, which was also built on West Hill (72 units, completed last year). In the same vein, McGraw House in downtown Ithaca is planning a 25-50 unit expansion, and is currently in the development stages [3].

So yeah. Old people like Ithaca. I think it’s part of a trend of retirees moving to college towns to enjoy a “higher quality of life” and increased educational and cultural venues that are often associated with such communities. The New York Times did a story on it not too long ago [4].

In other news, Ecovillage is planning its third community, TREE. This goes with the previous two facilities in that area, SONG and FROG. The 30-unit addition, with a new “education facility”, has a tentative construction start in 2010, and for completion in early 2011 [5]. Ecovillage currently has 60 units at its West Hill location; White Hawk, another ecovillage, has plans for 30 total units over the next few years at its Danby location (for the record, Danby is a town just south of Ithaca). Hippies like Ithaca too. But, I s’pose that’s not really news.







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