Redbud II?

Editorial: Cornell Daily Sun

September 18, 2007

It’s been two-and-a-half years since Cornell “paved paradise and put up a
parking lot” on University Ave. Flash forward to the present day and we are at
a similar crossroads. Only this time, there’s a 270-day building moratorium
before the fate of Sapsucker Woods is decided.

During the Redbud Woods debacle, environmentalists and activists found a clear
adversary in Cornell. It was almost too perfect. Big Red Bureaucracy vs.
heroic students. This time, Cornell has chosen to remain a silent third party
in the ongoing debate between developer Rocco Lucente and Ithaca residents.

In a sense, Cornell’s silence is prudent. After all, inaction prevents
students from chaining themselves to President Skorton’s desk. Lucente has
wisely pledged 25 acres of Sapsucker Woods to Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology to
counter the construction of his new housing development project, Briarwood II,
thus providing the University with a material incentive to keep her Big Red
Lips shut.

But on the other hand, by offering Cornell a slice of the pie, Lucente has
(somewhat deviously) involved us in Redbud II. With so many studies and
reports in dispute, Cornell cannot afford to remain apathetic on this issue.

The University now needs to assist with ecological and hydrological research,
and if the housing development is eventually built, advocate for a plan that
is environmentally friendly. Such measures will benefit both Cornell and the
City of Ithaca in the long run — an ecologically sound building plan will
block Briarwood II stormwater runoff from seeping into the remaining parts of
Sapsucker Woods and will ensure the creation of natural buffer zones between
the development and the rest of the ecosystem.

Despite Cornell’s alleged commitment to sustainability, the University has
recently accumulated a list of environmental issues that it must confront. In
addition to Sapsucker Woods, Cornell has been criticized for its lack of
concern for the ecological effects of its Lake Source Cooling project. As a
land grant institution with a long history of activism, Cornell ought to take
a resolute stand on the fate of the Sapsucker Woods, whatever it may be.

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