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Commons Playground stays shuttered for now in Ithaca

The Commons Playground, a mainstay for children accompanying their families for downtown festivities, will remain closed for the foreseeable future as construction on the adjacent Harold’s Square project continues.

Construction on the project has been inconsistent during the last year or so. It seemed to be moving along well before a contract dispute between developers L Enterprises and construction firm Taylor, the Builders caused a month-long work stoppage at the start of 2019. When local construction firm LeChase was hired as replacements, there was hope that it would signal a smoother building experience and a firmer timeline.

But neighboring businesses have complained for a myriad of reasons, including the playground’s closing, the obstructive protective fencing that surrounds the project and disrupts sightlines, and some parking complaints. They aired their grievances at an open meeting with the development team in March, where the business owners chastised the developers for not being transparent with the project. To address those complaints, the idea of having dates set aside to temporarily open the playground, focusing on certain weekends when downtown activity is particularly high like Record Store Day and Ithaca Fest among others, was floated. Yet both events have now come and gone without removal of the green fence and canopy that now envelop the play structure and slide.

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