By Gary Stewart
Question: What do you get when you cross two towns, a county road, Cornell-managed practice fields, research plots, specialized buildings and a weather station, some private homes and apartments, and a substantial state facility that turns 90 this year?
Answer: The mile-and-a-quarter Game Farm Road – a.k.a. County Road 173 – that is in both the towns of Dryden and Ithaca, and will be home to a new replacement bridge, plus additional possibilities, in the near future. (More on that collaborative effort later.)
Most people who have lived in Tompkins County any length of time have been on Game Farm Road, which runs between Ellis Hollow Road and State Route 366. The average daily traffic crossing the aforementioned bridge is approximately 1,900 vehicles per day.
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There’s a lot of “Cornell” up and down the road, but one thing that isn’t is the Reynolds Game Farm, (tinyurl.com/y9rhwqa6), the last of its kind in the state. DEC’s Bureau of Wildlife owns and operates the game farm, the state’s only pheasant production facility. Opened in 1927 and operating ever since, the 166-acre farm propagates and distributes pheasants statewide through a cooperative rearing-and-release program.
There are any number of interesting Cornell components along Game Farm Road, including newly fenced (and labeled) research plots across the road from the Cornell weather station (tinyurl.com/nqawmp), operated in concert with the Northeast Regional Climate Center (tinyurl.com/yc8q9tzp).
Timely data, climate resources and all sorts of additional accessible information are found on these sites.
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Heading south toward Ellis Hollow Road and across the bridge – more on that soon – is the restricted-access Raptor Road, home of the Bondareff Raptor Facility and the Cornell Raptor Program.
That initiative – founded by professor John Parks and staffed by student volunteers – rehabilitates sick or injured raptors and maintains a large collection of birds for both captive breeding and public demonstrations.
The program was established in 1993 to provide students in the animal and biological sciences, natural resources, and veterinary medicine, plus other community members, an opportunity to become involved with efforts to promote conservation of raptors. For more information, including programs for the public, visit Blogs.Cornell.Edu/Raptors.
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Now on to the bridge!
Earlier this month, Tompkins County’s Facilities and Infrastructure Committee passed a resolution tied to bids for replacement of the bridge carrying Game Farm Road over Cascadilla Creek.
The replacement bridge will allow roadway sight distance improvements and provide shoulders to safely accommodate pedestrians and bicycles. The project will also provide trailhead parking improvements adjoining the bridge for the East Ithaca Recreation Way – a trailhead is located at Game Farm Road – and potential extension of that trail toward Varna.
Funding for the project construction is included in the county’s proposed capital program budget, and Cornell will contribute $250,000 of the estimated $1 million-plus project cost. There are no federal or state shares for this project, but it’s a great, local partnership.
There are collaborations like this that play out every day in our shared communities, often under the rada. As always, we appreciate our town-gown partners, who work hard for the common good, on Game Farm Road and throughout Tompkins County.
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East Hill Notes are published the second and fourth Monday of each month. Gary Stewart is assistant vice president for community relations at Cornell University.