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Legislature Supports Downtown Community Outreach Worker Program

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Legislature Supports Downtown Community Outreach Worker Program

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Legislature confirmed the County’s financial support for a joint program to provide a Community Outreach Worker for the Ithaca downtown area.  By unanimous vote (Legislator Martha Robertson and Nate Shinagawa excused), the Legislature appropriated $20,000 for that purpose from the Contingent Fund , set aside last fall as part of the County’s 2015 budget process, as part of a partnership involving the City of Ithaca, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA), and Family and Children’s Service.

The Community Outreach Worker Program, the result of months of thoughtful study by a joint working group, is recommended to address the needs, concerns, and wishes of the many stakeholders in the downtown area, to effectively provide and promote continually positive and inclusive experiences for those living, working, and visiting Ithaca’s downtown area, and to promote a welcoming, inclusive, accessible, and tolerant downtown atmosphere enjoyable to everyone.  The program target area is the State Street/MLK corridor extending to Meadow Street, and including the Ithaca Commons and Cayuga Street from the Library through DeWitt Park.

The City of Ithaca has allocated $20,000 and the DIA $10,000 toward the joint initiative.  Family and Children’s Service has committed to serve as the employer of the Community Outreach Worker.  County funds released from the Contingent Fund are recommended to be allocated to County Administration, instead of to the Library budget, as initially had been proposed.  Most of the discussion about the program concerned this change – Legislator Jim Dennis unsuccessfully proposed an amendment that would have released the funding to the Library budget, as first proposed, to pass through to Family and Children’s Service, but that proposed change was supported only by Mr. Dennis and Chair Mike Lane.