January 31, 2011

Overwhelming demand

This fictional scenario is very different from yesterday's quiet scenario; it's about as far as I can easily imagine development going in twenty years, multiplying the town's population by about 2.5 by 2030. It's based on a highly optimistic Upstate 2050 story, but this focuses more on the effects of that optimism on Dryden.


When Cornell University expanded the Wilson Synchrotron to build the Energy Recovery Linac (ERL), they hoped for a solid research platform and significant but not dramatic growth. Instead, thanks to a 2013 accident, Dr. Waclaw Czerwinski developed cheap, safe, and affordable fusion power, and Cornell's work in the field exploded. The Synchrotron facilities themselves continued to expand under new areas of the Towns of Ithaca and Dryden, and related businesses quickly filled downtown Ithaca, the Airport Technology Park, and a large area along Route 13 and Hanshaw Road in Dryden.

By 2022, developers were complaining that the Town of Dryden hadn't allowed anywhere near as much development as they needed, and that Cornell's insistence on keeping certain fields for research was limiting obvious development possibilities, particularly the 46-acre field at the corner of Game Farm Road and Route 366 and the Reynolds Game Farm itself. The core of the hamlet of Lucente (formerly Varna) had exploded from around 679 people in 2000 to 2700 in 2020, as most of the existing housing was torn down and replaced with apartment complexes. Route 366 and Turkey Hill Roads were seeing similar explosions in growth, as single-family housing was replaced with denser units. Scattered growth further east in Dryden piled ever more traffic on to Routes 13 and 366, despite efforts by the TCAT bus system to expand.

At a contentious Town Board meeting held at the Lucente Community Center, developers insisted that the only way to address the growing traffic problems was to allow denser housing - supported both through zoning changes and through infrastructure improvements the developers were willing to pay for. Their initial map, showing proposed water and sewer districts going about two miles into the western edge of Dryden from Neimi Road South, provoked fury, but new pro-development residents proved the key voters. An election settled the issue by a 52-48 margin, and developer purchases of land allowed them to win the neighborhood infrastructure votes everywhere except for Ellis Hollow and Mount Pleasant, the two sites they'd expressed the least interest in.

By the 2030 census, Dryden's population reached 37,421, with no signs of slowing down. Denser housing was moving toward Etna and Freeville rapidly, unimpeded by the hilly terrain further south or the hydrofracking traffic further east.

Other zoning fiction here:

If you have stories you'd like to tell (or see me tell), let me know, in email or in comments.

Posted by simon at January 31, 2011 8:21 AM in ,
Note on photos