February 10, 2006

Town Hall progress, budget, timeline

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on progress toward a new Town Hall. Jennie Daley reports on progress on contracts with architects and engineers, as well as a current cost estimate from $2 million to $2.4 million. (The 2002 estimates were around $1.6 million, but based purely on a square-footage estimate.)

The Town Board talked about dates last night as well, expressing hopes for starting the bidding process on construction by March 31st and having the building ready next March. As the Journal notes, there are still a lot of design questions to be answered, especially around energy efficiency and construction materials. They're much further along with this than I had thought, though.

One other issue that came up but isn't raised in the article is the question of the additional land the town purchased when the bought the land for the Town Hall. Environmental Planner Dan Kwasnowski said he'd assemble a road map for that conversation, including public input. Town Board member Marty Christofferson wanted to make sure that the Town didn't start paying for design drawings and other work before there was a basic agreement on what the land would look like.

The Journal article also notes continuing work on the Cortland Road Sewer District negotiations between the Town and the Village. The two seem to have agreed on basic terms, but the Town voted to proceed with a study that they hope will allow them to avoid some expensive construction.

The Journal's editorial congratulates new District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson for her immediate attention to sex crimes, something I'd noted while wondering about all the recent rape headlines. The Journal writes:

Although we'd rather have no such news to report, Wilkinson's hands-on approach to allegations of sex crimes is a reassuring sight. Critics have complained in the past that rape and sexual assaults were sometimes handled too lightly in Tompkins County, with state Division of Criminal Justice records showing a higher percentage of felony rape arrests plea bargained to lesser charges than in several surrounding counties. Wilkinson made a point of that during her campaign, promising to take a very tough stance when it comes to sexual crimes in Tompkins County.

From all early appearance, the new D.A. is making good on her promise.

Of course it's too early to tell if Wilkinson's hand-on posture will translate into more felony convictions. Beyond that, it may take years to measure whether the county's get-tough stance on sex crimes will build a climate of intolerance for such intolerable acts and thereby increase the safety of local residents.

All that remains to be seen. But the longest journey begins with a single step, and Wilkinson has shown on this front she's taking the D.A.'s office in the right direction.

In related news, the Journal reports on the new Sheriff's Department website.

Posted by simon at February 10, 2006 8:32 AM in , , ,
Note on photos