• Re-Elect Alan Cohen Mayor -- Ithaca, New York 1999

    Alan Cohen Mayor

    Vote November 2nd, 1999: Alan J. Cohen, Mayor, City of Ithaca



    Neighborhoods First

    What we did...

  • Created Ithaca Neighborhoods Council to link neighborhoods & give them a stronger voice
  • Created the Neighborhood Preservation Planner position to focus on neighborhood needs
  • Provided a significantly higher level of staff support for neighborhood organizations
  • Improved lighting at the Greyhound bus station & in our neighborhoods
  • Worked to create the Residential Parking Permit System & created new neighborhood lots
  • Developed a balanced approach to mitigate the impacts of Senior Week
  • Created the bicycle/pedestrian advisory committee to integrate the issues of both groups
  • Tripled the output of tickets to crack down on speeding violations
  • Acquired grant money to purchase two Smart Trailers for speed enforcement
  • Acquired truck scales to improve our truck enforcement efforts
  • Increased the size of the IPD traffic unit to focus on neighborhood traffic concerns
  • Secured $350,000 in grant monies for traffic calming projects/commenced installations
  • Created 3 new firefighter positions to focus on fire safety code enforcement issues
  • Created the Homeownership Task Force to increase citywide owner occupancy levels
  • Replaced year round odd-even parking with winter only odd-even parking
  • Secured over $2.2 million in grants for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services
  • Introduced a graffiti removal ordinance to encourage faster removal of this visual blight
  • Directed several historic preservation efforts & hosted NYS Preservation League conference
  • Lobbied for passage of state legislation for historic preservation renovation tax credits
  • Supported the Collegetown multiple dwelling unit construction moratorium

    What we can do...

  • Work with residents to develop their own neighborhood specific improvement plans
  • Collaborate with the National Guard to do a citywide 'Spring Cleanup' curbside pickup
  • Increase owner occupancy levels in neighborhoods, including multiple family structures
  • Convert some multiple dwelling units to one & two family homes
  • Continue working with INHS on their low-income first-time homebuyer program
  • Focus also on the needs of middle income first time homebuyers
  • Revisit zoning code with an eye to stopping densification & stabilizing neighborhoods
  • Continue traffic enforcement efforts & installing traffic calming devices
  • Develop a citywide neighborhood improvement strategies plan
  • Develop a citywide traffic management plan that protects neighborhoods
  • Install new streetlights throughout the city to improve safety & reduce fear of crime
  • Shift financial burden of sidewalk repairs & new installations to city
  • Collaborate with taverns to promote more responsible behavior of their patrons after hours
  • Return to top of page


    A Vibrant Downtown

    What we did...

  • Worked to create the Ithaca Downtown Partnership & actively served on its board
  • Created the Commons Design Review Committee
  • Worked for the passage of a downtown urban design plan
  • Provided additional funding for the Ithaca Downtown Partnership to hire a new director
  • Collaborated with the Ithaca Downtown Partnership director to fill retail vacancies
  • Opened the Ithaca Commons police satellite station
  • Created the downtown community police officer beat
  • Funded lighting & other security improvements to the parking garages
  • Created a targeted revolving loan fund for downtown facade improvements
  • Developed a free (no rent) outdoor dining program to increase downtown activity
  • Allocated significant funding to help revitalize the State Theater
  • Recruited new office tenants & lowered the downtown office vacancy rate
  • Worked to keep town hall & all existing postal services downtown
  • Worked to retain & expand several downtown businesses
  • Supported the county library's move to the downtown core
  • Improved our maintenance efforts on the Commons & parking garages
  • Eliminated the Friday morning garbage pickup that conflicted with Thursday night retail
  • Consolidated Commons merchants' garbage services to improve area aesthetics
  • Acted on the Downtown Vision Task Force initiative & instituted an East Hill shuttle bus
  • Worked with TC3 to increase their presence in downtown

    What we can do...

  • Remove parking meters from the central business district retail core
  • Promote the development of more housing & office space downtown
  • Continue to fill retail space vacancies, then create new retail space downtown
  • Invest in the revitalization of the State Theater as a theater & a conference center
  • Invest in recommendations of Commons Design Review report/also improve maintenance
  • Develop a strategic plan for downtown growth & development
  • Continue to fill the remaining vacant upper story spaces
  • Revise zoning regulations to promote new mixed-use construction downtown
  • Brighten up downtown & reduce graffiti by painting wall murals
  • Return some of the one-way streets downtown to two-way traffic
  • Improve directional signage in, and to, downtown
  • Continue to work with merchants to encourage more uniform store hours
  • Work with merchants to improve the cleanliness of the Commons & the rest of downtown
  • Return to top of page


    Community Issues, Government Action

    What we did...

  • Created the Community Drug Task Force & actively served on it
  • Tripled the number of people of color on city boards, committees & commissions
  • Introduced local hate crime legislation
  • Authored the City of Ithaca's diversity statement
  • Increased the diversity of the city workforce at all levels (see work environment section)
  • Focused efforts and raised visibility on fighting racism & other biases
  • Included community members in more decision making processes, including hiring
  • Worked to establish a local syringe exchange program
  • Instituted a 'no discriminatory practices' requirement for users of city property
  • Created the Domestic Violence Task Force & implemented recommendations
  • Supported the funding for the effective black parenting program
  • Commissioned photographs of community diversity for tourism promotional brochures
  • Instituted stricter enforcement of handicap parking spaces
  • Initiated a code compliance project to make all city buildings ADA compliant
  • Supported the relocation of the Senior Citizens Center
  • Significantly upgraded the facilities at Southside Community Center
  • Worked on an initiative to reduce college binge-drinking & overall consumption
  • Worked to establish a substance abuse counselor position at Ithaca High School
  • Secured Drug-Free Community grant for ad campaign, youth programs & transportation
  • Supported the establishment & ongoing operation of the Ithaca Drug Court

    What we can do...

  • Work to provide Internet access for individuals from all socio-economic groups
  • Provide the elderly with more service & program choices
  • Continue to raise visibility of issues of diversity (op-eds, speeches, advocacy in meetings)
  • Continue to advocate for the human & civil rights of all - no tolerance for bias
  • Work to improve communication & share more information with community members
  • Include area clergy in collaborative efforts to address community problems
  • Improve compliance with sidewalk clearance requirements to aid the disabled & elderly
  • Continue to install corner curbcuts & other enhancements for physically challenged persons
  • Advocate for living wage/overall better wages for area employees
  • Continue implementing the recommendations of the Community Drug Task Force
  • Teach parents how to talk to their children about substance abuse & to recognize signs of it
  • Continue to advocate for area business hiring practices that promote workplace diversity
  • Develop a public awareness campaign designed to reduce substance abuse
  • Support the development of an Ithaca Youth Court
  • Return to top of page


    Youth - Our Future

    What we did...

  • Appointed many youth to city boards (on which there were none when I started)
  • Increased staff programming hours at GIAC
  • Supported efforts to open the Teen Center
  • Created a full time IPD school resource officer position to work with our youth
  • Installed new playground & other recreation equipment in many city parks
  • Built a new rollersports park
  • Increased youth access to the mayor by being approachable & by reaching out to youth
  • Strengthened the City's relationship with the Ithaca City School District
  • Supported the creation & ongoing operations of the IPD Youth Explorer Post
  • Participated in several youth initiated volunteer projects
  • Created the Mayor's Youth Community Service Award
  • Spoke often to student classes & assemblies at area schools
  • Hosted small focus groups to learn about youth issues & ideas
  • Improved safety, operational & comfort features of Cass Park Rink & Pool

    What we can do...

  • Address staffing needs at GIAC/Youth Bureau to provide night & weekend programs
  • Create a Community Youth Task Force modeled after the Community Drug Task Force
  • Provide more facilities (both athletic & non-athletic) for our youth to congregate
  • Educate community members to embrace our youth, not fear them
  • Empower youth through more extra-curricular programs that enhance self esteem
  • Increase the availability of academic support & mentorship programs for at-risk youth
  • Collaborate with the Police Chief on the creation of a Police Athletic League for youth
  • Develop a youth wall mural project for various downtown sites
  • Work with school district on truancy issues to keep our youth in school
  • Return to top of page


    On The Cutting Edge

    What we did...

  • Upgraded & expanded the City's information technology infrastructure & services
  • Linked all city facilities to an internal communications network
  • Launched a new interactive City web site
  • Coordinated the city's Y2K preparations

    What we can do...

  • Work to provide universal Internet access for low-mod socio-economic groups
  • Provide more services to the public on the City web site
  • Return to top of page


    Protecting Our Natural Resources

    What we did...

  • Created a new park in the SW that protects one of our most important natural areas
  • Increased the City's tree inventory (over 2000 new trees) & improved the maintenance of it
  • Negotiated (in the sewer agreement) the protection of agricultural lands outside of the city
  • Formed a regional planning group (also as part of sewer) to address area growth patterns
  • Increased the city's landholdings in the Six-Mile Creek watershed
  • Secured grant monies for the development of an Inlet Island 'boardwalk'
  • Negotiated a new wastewater treatment agreement that will improve lake conditions
  • Secured grant monies for the Black Diamond Trail Bridge at Buttermilk Falls
  • Negotiated the acquisition of Ithaca Falls from Cornell

    What we can do...

  • Work to create a countywide parks & recreation division
  • Create more small neighborhood parks
  • Develop a management plan for our natural areas
  • Continue to work with our municipal neighbors to better plan countywide development
  • Develop an adopt-a-park program to better maintain our parks
  • Develop more bicycle/pedestrian paths & recreation ways, along the shore & citywide
  • Connect city recreation ways to the Black Diamond Trail (that links our area's state parks)
  • Stem urban sprawl by focusing development in the urban core
  • Return to top of page


    Stable City Finances

    What we did...

  • Instituted 5 year (general fund & capital) budgeting to provide a realistic look at city finances
  • Instituted program budgeting to make the process easier to understand
  • Negotiated a new sales tax contract with county that gives us our full 2% share
  • Secured $1.2 million in CU funded capital improvements for Lake Source Cooling approval
  • Secured cooperation from employee bargaining units to slow the increase of our costs
  • Worked to increase revenues by promoting new development & cut unnecessary expenses
  • Created the Project Oversight Committee to better coordinate public works projects
  • Increased infrastructure investment to start catching up on years of deferred maintenance
  • Stabilized the tax base (that had been declining) by increasing public confidence in the city

    What we can do...

  • Lobby for changing the funding inequities of the Ithaca City School District
  • Put unneeded city owned property back on the tax rolls
  • Ensure an accurate census count to garner our fair share of state & federal grants
  • Return to top of page


    Higher Education - Increasing Their Commitment

    What we did...

  • Dramatically improved relations with Cornell & Ithaca College
  • Increased CU commitment ($1.2 million) for neighborhood revitalization (COP-C grant)
  • Increased IC commitment to the South Hill School & South Hill neighborhood
  • Increased CU awareness & financial contribution to Collegetown issues
  • Opened negotiations with IC to contribute to fire services
  • Motivated Cornell to focus its efforts on local economic development
  • Increased campus-wide awareness of service learning/community service opportunities
  • Increased college students' awareness of their impact on the community

    What we can do...

  • Increase Cornell's annual financial contribution to the city
  • Secure an annual payment for fire services from Ithaca College
  • Create a CU funded 1st time homebuyer low interest loan fund for CU employees
  • Encourage CU & IC capital investment in the downtown
  • Continue to increase Cornell's commitment to dealing with off-campus student problems
  • Offer CU & IC students credit hours for community service
  • Integrate community service into the CU & IC curriculum
  • Continue to improve community access to CU & IC facilities
  • Return to top of page


    Collaborating With Our Neighbors

    What we did...

  • Dramatically improved relations with other county municipalities
  • Collaborated with the Town of Ithaca Supervisor to reduce service redundancies
  • Negotiated a new agreement that will result in the City joining a regional water system
  • Negotiated a new wastewater treatment agreement that will improve lake conditions
  • Worked with TCAT to improve transit (bus) services & maintain important city routes
  • Expanded coverage of the school resource officer into the middle schools in the Town
  • Worked on consolidating countywide police & fire dispatch services
  • Converted the IFD fire training center (with county funds) into a regional training center
  • Organized a countywide meeting of town supervisors & mayors to discuss mutual interests

    What we can do...

  • Work to create a countywide parks & recreation division
  • Expand coverage area of (& funds to) the Ithaca Fire Department beyond the City & Town
  • Continue to identify municipal service redundancies & work to consolidate those services
  • Create a county-wide law enforcement drug task force to share info & resources
  • Continue to work for more cooperative regional land-use planning
  • Return to top of page


    A Growing Economy

    What we did...

  • Created the City's Office of Economic Development to focus our development efforts
  • Created the ED Director position to serve as a point of contact for the business community
  • Collaborated with the new Director of ED on several successful recruitment efforts
  • Developed the city's first economic development plan
  • Worked on the county economic plan, which recognizes the city as its economic center
  • Strengthened the CEO program to encourage more minority/women owned businesses
  • Worked for the passage of development plans for Downtown, Inlet Island & the West End
  • Worked to pass a development plan for the Southwest Area
  • Improved City's business image & actively promoted the City as a place to do business
  • Worked with several local developers to advance their projects
  • Motivated Cornell to focus its efforts on local economic development
  • Developed a vacant commercial property database to aid in marketing city sites
  • Negotiated the sale of Carpenter Business Park
  • Appointed a Planning Board open to balanced, rational growth
  • Created development design guidelines to enhance aesthetics & simplify the process
  • Worked with county officials to relocate the DOT waterfront facility
  • Worked to adopt the city-specific components of the Tompkins County Waterfront Plan
  • Secured $2.1 million in Canal Corridor grants to develop the Inlet Island area
  • Created new revolving loan programs for Downtown, West State Street & the West End
  • Streamlined the Site Plan Review process for smaller projects
  • Created a business visitation program as part of our retention/expansion efforts

    What we can do...

  • Formulate strategies with the school district to meet area employer's entry level needs
  • Redevelop DOT site & other waterfront properties/build a municipal pier at Stewart Park
  • Create strong connections between Downtown, West End/Inlet Island & Southwest
  • Work with Cornell to create a second stage venture capital fund for local businesses
  • Work to increase the commercialization of Cornell technologies resulting in local startups
  • Expand the Cherry Street Industrial Park
  • Use tax abatements to encourage investment & reinvestment
  • Replace existing shuttle buses with trolley buses to promote tourism
  • Address underemployment issues by attracting employers offering better job opportunities
  • Collaborate with the county to offer more job training opportunities for local residents
  • Ensure that all training opportunities are accompanied by adequate child care provisions
  • Encourage Internet service provider competition to lower prices & improve service
  • Return to top of page


    An Improved Work Environment, Better Services

    What we did...

  • Created the City's Department of Human Resources to focus on employee needs
  • Created the Common Council Human Resources Committee to focus on employee needs
  • Authored the City of Ithaca's diversity statement
  • Collaborated in the creation of the Work Environment Task Force
  • Worked to develop several employee quality initiatives
  • Improved outreach recruitment efforts for diversity candidates
  • Collaborated with other area employers to network employees of color
  • Facilitated discussion sessions with senior staff on institutional racism
  • Supported cultural awareness trainings in several departments
  • Provided better test preparation support services for job candidates
  • Increased racial (0, now 2) & gender (1, now 6) diversity of department heads
  • Increased racial (3, now 6) & gender (3, now 8) diversity of IPD, new female deputy chief
  • Improved labor-management relations with employee bargaining units
  • Increased direct access of employees to the mayor
  • Developed an employee recognition program
  • Conducted a joint labor-management training on counseling & discipline
  • Initiated the development of an employee performance management system (evaluations)
  • Improved the city network to enhance internal communications & save time
  • Initiated data collection on attrition, job applicants, hiring etc.
  • Conducted process mapping sessions to streamline several internal processes
  • Initiated a redesign of city hall workspaces to improve employee comfort & public access
  • Developed ways to make Common Council meetings shorter & more efficient

    What we can do...

  • Create a working environment that supports & nurtures all employees
  • Improve service delivery utilizing employee suggestions
  • Develop with our employees a mission statement to give them a clear sense of purpose
  • Create more opportunities for employee input
  • Collaborate with CU, IC & others to market our community to diversity candidates
  • Continue making workforce diversification a city priority
  • Implement the recommendations of the Work Environment Task Force
  • Develop an employee orientation program for new hires
  • Develop a personnel manual for new & existing staff
  • Focus more on training opportunities for employee & leadership development
  • Develop an employee wellness program
  • Return to top of page


    A Safe Community

    What we did...

  • Doubled the size of the drug investigations unit
  • Doubled the size of the IPD training budget to train officers on new skills & techniques
  • Formed the K-9 unit with drug sniffing dogs
  • Created a new half time Assistant City Prosecutor position
  • Created (with county task force grant funds) a new domestic violence prosecutor position
  • Conducted IPD trainings on cultural sensitivity & domestic violence
  • Improved IPD internal procedures to respond to domestic violence calls
  • Increased # of police satellite stations & # (2, now 5) of community policing beats
  • Added 2 new officer positions to the IPD roster
  • Created a full time IPD school resource officer position to work with our youth
  • Passed the drug house eviction ordinance
  • Reduced number of active drug houses in the city
  • Worked with Sheriff's Dept. drug enforcement efforts outside of city (it still impacts us)
  • Conducted a landlord training session to reduce neighborhood drug activity
  • Added 3 new firefighter positions to the IFD roster for both firefighting & code enforcement
  • Improved IFD training center & added new classroom, ventilation simulator, rescue tower
  • Improved capabilities & safety of water, ice, confined space, rope, & trench rescue programs
  • Improved the consistency & quality of IFD training programs
  • Redeployed personnel & increased staffing of firefighting apparatus from 1 to 2 firefighters
  • Acquired new breathing apparatus to significantly improve firefigher safety & mobility
  • Upgraded the water system to improve our firefighting capabilities
  • Increased emphasis on emergency management planning & community disaster response
  • Expanded the DARE program into the middle schools
  • Required that police officers live in the city for at least their first 3 years of employment
  • Organized a regional meeting of mayors & police chiefs to address illegal drug activity

    What we can do...

  • Pass a lockdown law to shut down or seize persistent drug house properties
  • Continue efforts to crack down on gun violence/look into gun buyback program
  • Continue to increase the number of neighborhood community watch efforts
  • Continue supporting the Police Chief's efforts to improve his department
  • Continue trainings on IPD communications skills & cultural awareness
  • Continue expanding community policing within the police dept & number of walking beats
  • Provide more skills & specialties training opportunities for police officers & firefighters
  • Continue to upgrade tools & other equipment for firefighters & police officers
  • Resolve remaining problems & implement the city bicycle plan
  • Return to top of page


    Last modified 5 October 1999.