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The area between the Embassy Inn and the old Elmira, Cortland, & Northern railroad overpass is dominated by apartment complexes. The first, heading west to Varna, is Pineridge Residences, which I noted before in an earlier post. Lynn Richards, Senior Policy Analyst at the EPA, gave a general presentation on Smart Growth last night, explaining how planning is changing to encourage the creation of landscapes which accomodate people - and not just cars - once again. It's not, of course, just principles, and they were handing out copies of Getting to Smart Growth II: 100 More Policies for Implementation, which had more detailed suggestions for how to implement each of the ten principles in ten different ways.
Richards started by noting that development trends look fairly ominous, as people are using more and more land per person while population forecasts show continuous growth - 50 million more people in the U.S. The environmental consequences of this are well-documented: more emissions from cars driving more miles, watershed impacts and stormwater run-off issues, and ever-increasing pressure on natural habitats.
Richards also brought up busing, noting that "hazard busing", busing students to school because the school isn't safely accessible by foot, is increasing dramatically. Economically, Smart Growth seems to work well - development projects built with Smart Growth principles sell out early and don't lose money for the developer. She also pointed out ways in which current zoning - separation of residential from commercial activities, setback requirements, and barring the classic apartments-above-a-store approach - actually keeps the free market from operating, and restricts the choices developers can offer consumers. Rehabilitating old buildings, something that has a lot of potential for areas with older housing stock (including Dryden) is also a key part of Smart Growth. Most of her examples were urban or suburban, notably Arlington, VA, Rochester, NY, Westchester County, NY, and Somerville, MA, though she noted that Cattaraugus County, NY was working on a plan that would maintain balance between urban and rural zones. She discussed the EPA's role briefly, which seems primarily to be assisting communities and developers by providing information and analysis. Questions focused largely on how to get things started, and how to arrange partnerships that would bring more resources to projects.
David Weinstein, a member of the Dryden Planning Board, asked about resources for Smart Growth, particularly redevelopment money.
Weinstein also asked about the coordination issues around Smart Growth, noting that in New York planning is largely a town, city, and village project, not a regional one. I asked a fairly disjointed question about how Smart Growth projects seem to expect that increased options and improved pedestrian access can keep traffic from being a problem, but that it doesn't seem to offer many answers to communities where a major road itself is causing the community problems, and can't readily be moved.
Smart Growth makes a lot of sense to me, and promises to bring back the pedestrian-friendly environments that people typically find more comfortable. After last week's letter about the two Charlie Harts in Dryden, one of whom writes letters to the editor, the letter-writing Charlie Hart wrote in. If someone is upset enough to call me at home because of my opinions they will really be upset when they hang up. The Journal (or Hart) appears to have made a slight change, identifying his letters as being from Charlie Hart of the Village of Freeville rather than of the Town of Dryden, as he was identified in previous letters.
As noted here previously, the Town of Dryden will be having a public hearing on the removal of phosphorous from the City of Ithaca's sewage treatment plant, which serves the Varna and Route 13 area sewer districts. Further afield, there are also articles on the county's upcoming comprehensive plan and the questions about implementing a comprehensive plan in Danby that echo concerns heard in Dryden. This week's issue of The Shopper includes an ad proclaiming April to be Fair Housing Month in the Village of Dryden, an ad from the Dryden Schools Art Department asking for public support in keeping art programs from getting cut in the current round of budgeting, and a notice of the Etna Community Association's annual meeting, which will be in Houtz Hall (map) on April 6th at 7pm.
It doesn't sound like the opening day fishing was very good, but on the brighter side Elia Kacapyr finds that the Tompkins County economy improved slightly overall in February.
Continuing down 366 from the last few houses pictured, we come to the Embassy Inn and the buildings near it. Today's Ithaca Journal has two stories which are reminders of very different but very sad moments in the Dryden area's history. Members of communities surrounding Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida, have built a memorial and a road in memory of Patrick Griffin Jr., a graduate of Dryden High School who was killed in Iraq last year and is buried in Willow Glen Cemetery. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed a verdict awarding $1.8 million to the family of Dryden teacher and coach Steve Starr for negligence by the Cortland County Sheriff's Department. The highway funding bill that just passed in the House of Representatives includes $4.4 million for improvements to Peruville Road along the northern edge of Dryden (map), though much of that may also go to improvements further north in the Town and Village of Groton. Betsy Darlington and the Finger Lakes Land Trust send a laurel to "Engineers without Frontiers" for building a footbridge in the Trust's Etna Preserve.
Though cited as an Ithaca resident, Arthur Berkey of Ellis Hollow Road also sends a laurel to Cornell Fingerlakes Credit Union for funding scholarships. Ithaca Journal Managing Editor (and Town of Dryden resident) Bruce Estes spars with former Ithaca alderman Ed Hershey's take on the Journal's coverage of its own activities.
I've had a few people (including some in the town) ask for more information about the town generally, in addition to the detailed information I'm providing in individual blog entries.
The Town of Dryden has been on the map since the 1790s, when it was created as one of the townships in upstate New York's Military Tract, and named after poet John Dryden. When it was originally surveyed, the town was drawn as nearly a square along the southern edge of the Military Tract.
That shape straddles a number of divides, with forested hills in its southern reaches, part of the eroded Appalachian plateau, and more rolling terrain further north in the Great Lakes plains. The approximately 13,000 people living in Dryden are themselves divided in a number of ways.
Within the Town, there are two villages, Dryden (1,832 people in 2000) and Freeville (505 people in 2000).
I mentioned Dryden High School seniors Sam Glidden and Jared Delahanty's hydrogen car project back in January, when the Ithaca Journal covered it.
Today's Ithaca Journal reports on growing activity in the Democratic primary for the 24th Congressional District, which includes Dryden. The Journal also examines a Cornell report on damage to New York agriculture by deer and proposals, including year-round hunting, for reducing their numbers. Today's Ithaca Journal reports that labor negotiations between SEIU Local 200 and George Junior Republic seem to be improving, as George Junior has backed down on its removal of family health care coverage from the contract. The Journal also has a picture of a truck on Route 13 in Dryden going through yesterday's snow. The detour signs on Hanshaw Road, Route 13, and Route 366 are up because of work being done on the bridge over Fall Creek on Freese Road in Varna. Just past the apartment complexes, the old railroad bridge - Elmira Cortland & Northern, then Lehigh Valley - gets a slight modification every year in the spring. Cornell veterinary students seem to be behind this annual revision of the grafitti, in honor of Francis Henry Fox, professor emeritus. The agenda for Thursday's Dryden Town Board meeting includes six public hearings and a presentation of fire department awards as well as a long list of business.
Today's Ithaca Journal takes a close look at the costs driving a 10.8% tax levy increase in the Village of Freeville. There's also a brief noting Teresa Carnrike's person of the year aware from Dryden Sertoma and Monday's Dryden Central School Board meeting, which will be at 7:15pm in the Dryden Elementary School cafeteria. The Family Fun section notes the Easter Egg Hunt in Montgomery Park on Saturday at 1pm, as well as the McLean Volunteer Fire Department's beginning its fund-raising drive.

The Neighbors section includes updates on the careers of two Dryden residents in the military, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron D. The print edition also contains tables on when houses were built in the Towns of Groton and Dryden. While putting some mail in my mailbox today, I got stuck on the far side of the road for about five minutes.
Fortunately I used to play Frogger when I was a kid, though it's a little different when the cars are real. This week's Dryden Courier takes the recent uncontested elections as a good reason to take a close look at the Village of Freeville, how it operates, and what it provides to residents. There's also a piece on Dryden Central School's ParentCONNECTxp program for connecting parents more directly to their children's performance through a web site, and a story on TC3 student Keri Szymanski's successful campaign for president of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for students at two-year colleges.
This week's Ithaca Times includes a detailed profile of the Saltonstall Arts Colony, which is located on about 200 acres in Ellis Hollow, and the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. The article also notes that these are just estimates, and that estimates haven't always reliably predicted growth here. If the pump should fail or require maintenance, VVFC (the fire company) brings down one of their big pumps - either the tanker or the engine capable of 1250 and 1500 gpm respectively - and hooks up to the lower hydrant as an intake to the pump and the upper hydrant as a discharge. I never thought of fire trucks being used that way, but if something goes wrong with that pump, it's great to know a temporary fix is that easy. If anyone wants to join the conversation on the board side, another ad in The Shopper notes that there are three three-year terms up for election on May 18th. There will be an Easter Egg Hunt at 1pm today in Montgomery Park (directions), presented by the Town of Dryden Recreation Department in partnership with Specialty Trophies and Neptune Hose Company. Back in December, I posted George Goodrich's telling of the first resident of Dryden with a valid claim to his land, George Robertson. The first grist mill in Dryden, early development of Ellis Hollow Road, a strange story involving shortcake and cream, and Goodrich's cynicism about his own times relative to those of the early pioneers are a few of the highlights. The writer was at first unable to learn whether any of these three pioneers except Sanford left descendants now residing in the township, and was surprised to learn that both Mrs.
Others who settled in 1798, coming here from Lansing, where they had sojourned a short time, were Daniel White and his brother-in-law, Samuel Knapp, a soldier of the revolution, who was engaged in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Stony Point, Brandywine and Monmouth. Zephaniah Brown came from Saratoga and settled on Lot 71, adjoining the town to Ithaca, in the year 1799, cutting the first road from that portion of the town to Ithaca, which was extended two years later by Peleg Ellis to the Ellis Hollow neighborhood. Tradition has handed down to us an incident of being here preserved of the first visit between the two pioneer families of Peleg Ellis and Zephaniah Brown, after a path had been made connecting their respective clearings in the forest. Society did not then require of Dryden neighbors the formalities, and shall we say hypocrisy, now in vogue ; but who can say that there did not then exist among these pioneers dressed in homespun clothing and living in their log houses in the clearing, more genuine, heartfelt hospitality than exists to-day, among their more polished descendants in their expensive mansions, furnished with all that modern luxury and elegance can suggest?
Easter Sunday seems like a good day to add a list of churches and other places of worship to this site. I'll be adding more places of worship over time, especially to cover denominations and religions which meet outside of the Town.
A lot of Thursday night's Town Board meeting was spent on infrastructure issues, ranging from sewer issues to cell phone towers to roads.
The meeting included two public hearings on sewer districts, one affecting the area north of the Village of Dryden and one affecting the Varna area. In a move affecting the Varna area, the Town Board approved modifications to the Joint Sewage Treatment Plant Phosphorous Removal Improvement Project, agreeing to pay Dryden's 1.9% share of a larger estimate for improving the City of Ithaca's wastewater treatment plant.
There were supposed to be two public hearings about cell phone towers, but only one applicant showed up. Ray Bakos, who lives across the street from the tower, had concerns with traffic and radiation generated by the tower.
After discussion of terms, the town modified some of the consultant's recommendations in approving the contract, mostly lessening their requirements.
In the Highway Report, Highway Supervisor Jack Bush talked about coordination with Rick Dietrich of the Youth Conservation Corps, which was hoping to work on some start-to-finish projects. Bush had assembled some material for Councilmen, which was distributed at the meeting, prompting Marty Christofferson to complain that "I got a big packet tonight.
In larger projects, Bush noted that the mapping for the Hunt Hill and Genung Roads was complete, and that he'd be setting up meetings with community members, who have been attending Town Board meetings regularly, through a mailing. The town is also talking with the Bolton Point Water System about flow tests and paint for fire hydrants, but hasn't heard back yet.
In issues related to infrastructure management, the Town Board voted 5-0 to cover elected full-time employees of the town (the Highway Superintendent and Town Clerk) under the same insurance terms as appointed full-time employees, retroactive to January 1st, following up on discussion from the previous meeting. Finally, just before executive session, the board voted on an appointment that may affect Dryden's infrastructure over the long term, appointing Jim Crawford, publisher of the Herald-Examiner, to the Planning Board.
They aren't specific to Dryden, but the Journal also has a trio of articles on a subject that happens here every day: speeding. The program will be held in the Dryden Village Hall (corner of South and George Streets) beginning at 7:30 PM.
The Town Board meeting was held at Neptune Fire Hall because of an awards presentation, on the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP).
The town's contribution and the payout would depend on a point system, likely based on a point system sample McNeil passed out at the meeting.
Doug Cotterill of Cotterill Insurance had started on an informal census of eligible firefighters, finding about 60 at Neptune Hose, 30 at Varna, and 25 at Freeville. Barber asked the town to come up with "a level of funding that you anticipate that you could make," to simply the process of designing a program. The board didn't take formal action on the proposal - there's more work to be done sorting out the details - but sounded broadly supportive of the proposal.
Later in the meeting (and off the agenda), Councilman Christofferson brought up an addendum to this year's fire contracts.
Christofferson's addendum would modify the audit clause, stating that the town has to pay for all costs of any audit, without the limit in the original contract. Michaels had heard of some issues Neptune had, especially around the capital reserve issue. Perkins asked about the lack of terms for the boards to repay borrowing against capital reserves. Michaels asked for clarification that it get paid back, and the board authorized Supervisor Trumbull and Attorney Perkins to negotiate further with the fire companies. This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that the Dryden Central School Board voted 7-1 for a budget that includes a 15% tax levy increase but avoids program cuts residents had opposed.
There's also a profile of Susan Lang, a Cornell science writer who lives on Ellis Hollow Creek Road, whose latest book is 'Beating the Blues', about dysthymia, a mild form of depression. The Town Board spent some time in its April meeting discussing the organization of town government, as well as on hiring a grant-writing firm to focus on new projects. The board followed up on the presentation made at the February board meeting by Bernie Thoma of Thoma Development Consultants, examining a contract for grant-writing services. Councilman Marty Christofferson asked a few questions about this contract, in which Thoma offers grant-writing services for $100 a month, payable quarterly, plus a percentage of grants received, minus a refund on the monthly fee if the percentage yields more than $5000.

Christofferson also brought up the needs analysis Thoma would perform at the start of the contract, an "opportunity to give our ideas to the folks who will be talking to them." Hattery noted that the Village of Dryden had done this, and included the whole board. The board approved the contract contingent on resolution of the issue Christofferson had brought up.
The board also looked at a draft organizational chart for the town, along with a directory (30K Excel or 73K PDF; both have been stripped of email addresses). There were also some questions about revising the organization itself, especially around who the environmental planner should report to, but those were held for later discussion. The directory seems like an extremely useful and uncontroversial thing to have, though for privacy reasons the version here (30K Excel or 73K PDF) has the email information removed. Both the chart and the directory were produced by Lisa Stelick, as part of her work on the Dryden Recreation Commission. Near the end of the meeting, two personnel issues, both boxes in the organization chart, were raised.
Finally, the town has found a new bookkeeper, Dawn Bogdan, who has been working for the Town of Lansing.
Moving past the driveway for Cornell's experimental fields, the next building is apartments. I've had a few questions lately about how I create this site, and figure it's worth a brief explanation in case anyone else wants to do something like. The engine I use to manage the site is Movable Type, which provides a framework for creating entries and presenting and archiving them in a wide variety of different styles. I type entries in by hand, with some cut-and-paste between entries for common features like photos and maps. The presentation details are handled by a set of CSS stylesheets derived from the one that came with Movable Type, plus a stylesheet switcher that lets people choose what size type they'd like.
I take most of the photos here on a Canon Digital Rebel, easily my favorite technology purchase of the last few years. I edit and resize photos with Adobe Photoshop Elements, which came with the camera, and am starting to use Adobe Photoshop Album to keep track of them. If you're interested in participating in local Democratic party efforts, please contact me or email me. Liva Brong, former bookkeeper for the Town of Dryden, has been indicted on multiple forgery-related counts connected to accusations of writing $17,900 in checks to her boyfriend's business, reports this morning's Ithaca Journal.
On the opinion page, there is a letter from Bill Cornell of Dryden about deer damage and the prospect of giving hunters a longer season rather than sanctioning year-round hunting by farmers.
Woodland Meadow Townhouses is a group of smaller buildings, while the DeBell Apartments are units in a building. She emphasized choice throughout her presentation, that consumer actually want a variety of different living environments, especially over their lifespan.
Richards noted that because federal Smart Growth initiatives had begun under the Clinton administration, they were concerned that the Republicans would see it as a Democratic initiative and trim it. Richards mentioned New Jersey's revision of its building codes to avoid the crippling requirement that an entire building be brought up to code when only a small part of it was being renovated. He asked about the possible conflict between, say, developing a hamlet and projects in more downtown areas. It is only an opinion and if it bothers someone, they can respond in the forum in which they heard or read it.
This entry is intended to address those questions, and it will be updated on a regular basis whenever I get around to it.
The hilly southern side of town tends to be in the Ithaca zip code and Ithaca City School District. Costs beyond their control - retirement, workers compensation, and their contracted police coverage from the Village of Dryden - are increasing.
I'm not entirely sure why the number of broken mufflers goes up every spring, but that seems to be the pattern. Last night's legislature meeting included tourism grants and a preliminary budget showing a 10% tax levy increase but no increase in the tax rate.
The following chapter looks at the people who arrived shortly after Robertson and the work they did establishing settlements in the early town. Lacy, came from New Jersey and settled at Willow Glen early in the year 1799, on the corner since occupied by the Stickles family. Councilman Mike Hattery said that Crawford's appointment would add "balance in terms of perspective in planning" in addition to the geographic balance of having someone from near Etna.
Once the program is designed, 60% of the board would have to vote for it (a simple majority on a five-person board), and there would have to be a referendum before the plan was adopted.
County Legislator Martha Robertson asked if the public would have a chance to participate in this needs analysis.
Smart Growth focuses on "well-planned growth that improves the quality of life", and isn't about shutting down growth entirely.
The basic principles feel sound, and I think to some extent they've informed the Dryden Draft Comprehensive Plan, but they clearly provide a foundation for communities to use in figuring out what they want, not a set of instant answers.
There is no need to take it outside the forum as it should be understood that what is printed on The Journal's Opinion Page in no way is intended to harm someone -- especially a family who had nothing to do with what was printed.
She received a cold response from Councilman Hattery, who asked "Are we going to entertain questions from the floor?", and got a 'no' from his fellow board members. Clauson, with all his family, is believed to have moved further west, one of his daughters having married a brother of Wyatt Allen, formerly of Dryden.
The board is counting on slightly more aid than Governor Pataki proposed, and increasing building usage fees from $5 to $10 an hour. Of greater concern were questions about materials people had given her but not received back; Michaels suggested that they were given her in her role as Town Historian, not privately, and should be returned.
I occasionally borrow my wife's much smaller Pentax S4, and the early pictures of Varna houses were taken with a sadly defunct Olympus D-620L. The far southwest corner of the town, Bethel Grove, is also largely connected to Ithaca, but along a different state highway, Route 79. Brown saw them and anxiously called out to her husband in a voice loud enough to be heard by Mrs. The contract with the Village for that sewer district has expired, and the Town Board approved sending the Village a letter of intent about moving forward on sewer contract negotations (but not water, a contested issue). While most of the town is in the Great Lakes watershed, the southeast corner is in the Susquehanna River watershed. White worked these first millstones, were brought to the grounds of the Dryden Agricultural Society by Samuel Skillings, a descendant of Samuel Knapp, and left near the new log cabin, where they will remain as a relic and reminder of the use which Mr. Smiley, is one of a large number of descendants of that same pioneer, Ezekiel Sanford, one of the party who wintered their oxen on browse and themselves on the "abundant game found in the new country" in the winter of the year 1798-9.

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