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Committee Moves Toward Disposal of Biggs Parcel

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Committee Moves Toward Disposal of Biggs Parcel

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Government Operations Committee of the Tompkins County Legislature today authorized the listing for sale of the remaining 26 acres of the former Health Department (Biggs) property on Harris B. Dates Drive on West Hill.

The committee, by a unanimous 5-0 vote, authorized the County Administrator to select a realtor through a Request-for-Proposals process and to proceed with the marketing of the property, provided that the County will entertain purchase proposals from the Town of Ithaca or neighborhood representatives prior to the retention of a realtor. The motion specifies that no action to retain a realtor shall take place prior to May 4, date of the May Government Operations Committee meeting.

Last fall, Planning Commissioner Ed Marx had requested the authorization to list the property for sale, following the earlier withdrawal of a proposal from NRP Properties and Better Housing for Tompkins County for an affordable housing development on the site. Last December, the committee had delayed any action on listing of the property to provide a few more weeks for submission of neighborhood purchase proposals.

Linda Grace Kobas, of the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association, addressed the committee before action was taken, asking the County to make the future of the parcel more than a fiscal decision. She said the presence of the wooded land represents an important quality of life issue for the West Hill neighborhood, providing “a pocket of green” in the midst of development.

Committee Chair Dan Klein noted that the County is mindful of environmental concerns regarding the property, placing a conservation easement on five acres of the property. Legislator Rich John, who advanced the motion approved by the committee, said that in considering the future of the parcel, the interests of taxpayers as a whole must be considered, and that it’s important to move the process forward.

County Administrator Joe Mareane advised that the RFP process to securing a realtor should take about 60 days, prompting the committee to suggest the May 4 target date.