Last week I was asked by my local planning and economic development committee to define grocery store. The city of Ithaca is developing a complicated patchwork of zoning districts to set direction for future development in the neighborhood adjacent to Cornell University.
The vision for the area, known as Collegetown, is to preserve and enhance existing residential neighborhoods while initiating thoughtful development that increases density, diversifies the year-round resident base, decreases parking pressures and attracts new businesses.
A tall order for sure, but one worth pursuing. One new business of great interest is a full-service grocery store. The kind of store that students and permanent residents alike now travel out of the district -- by bus, taxi or car -- to reach. Students piling out of cabs and city buses laden with bulging plastic grocery bags is a common scene in Collegetown.
As a resident with a personal interest in better retail food options within walking distance, I was more than happy to provide a definition of a grocery store. "Easy," I thought.
Until I started writing.