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mailmanWe got a message from a couple in the Midwest saying that they had a few days off from work coming up and they wanted to take a trip somewhere. Since they had never explored the Finger Lakes region, that might be a nice place to visit. Was The Round House available by any chance?

It was, so they came and checked out wineries, Watkins Glen, Taughannock Falls, kayaked Cayuga Lake and enjoyed dinners at the Rogues Harbor.

Then there was the couple from El Paso, Texas, visiting relatives in Ithaca. She was an attorney and her husband an architect. The lady told us that she was an avid quilter so she enjoyed the crazy quilt that we had decorated with. Nice people.

One guest was a young photographer from Boston coming to the area to do an assignment for a local college. He preferred to stay somewhere that was different from a hotel room.

A couple from England visited The Round House. They were traveling through Upstate New York on the way to a wedding somewhere. The lady was thrilled to see cardinal birds, she had never seen that before and to be serenaded by frogs at the pond in the evening.

If we too manage to get some time off from work and want to travel to the Midwest, El Paso, Boston or maybe even England, how do we find a place to stay?

The people who stayed at The Round House all found it at There are 950,000 places available in the US alone. Four million around the globe.

Last year, 2017, Bed & Breakfasts including AirBnB's but not hotels in Tompkins County brought in about $9.1 million from lodgings. The room tax paid to the county was about $273,000.

So, it all sounds good so far, why am I writing this?

The reason is that the Town of Lansing does not allow any of this except for approved Bed & Breakfasts. For example, if you want to rent out your guest house to people at the Cornell graduation weekend or weekends during the summer, that's not allowed without being an established B&B. You must have at least three bedrooms but not more than five etc.

It must all be approved by the Planning Board and others. It's a big deal.

When our family had a store in Ithaca, people used to comment that it must be great to have all the college students as customers, there were so many. But the busiest time during the year was the summer with all the tourists that were visiting, When the students came back in the fall, sales went down.

We got a call from a lady that was looking for a place to stay. She was coming to Lansing taking some kind of week long yoga class on paddleboards, something like that, by Puddledockers on Cayuga lake. Did we have a place where she could stay? And also, her husband was hesitant to come with her, he thought that he would be bored, what could he do while she was doing yoga? They also wanted to do some wine tasting, any wineries nearby? Any organic farms that we can visit? Where can we buy locally made cheese?

Maybe the Lansing Parks and Recreation department should be changed to Lansing Parks, Recreation and Tourism. A person in charge could keep track of what is going on in our town: Someone wants to arrange a week-long water color painting class in early fall. Is there a bus for wine tours? Do we have a pavilion available at Myers Park Sunday mornings in August for a basket weaving class, four hours $20? Another person wants to teach bee keeping one weekend in June. A farmer wants to establish a vineyard in Lansing. How can we promote lodging in Lansing for the participants in The Queen Victoria hockey tournament? Anyone want to try establish a farmers market at Myers Park? Can the Town help?

Recently I was talking to a friend who owns a house on Cayuga Lake. He told me that one day when he was young sitting on his dock with his dad, his father said: Son, look at all these houses up and down the lake, one day they will all be owned by doctors or lawyers.

And a while back I was visiting our insurance agent and she said: My parents used to have a place on the lake but when my father retired they could not afford it any more, the taxes were so high, so they had to sell it.

Maybe it's time to look at the rules for short-term rentals. If people have some spare rooms, cabins or their house, they should have the right to rent it out. I believe that most people, by far, that travels to our area are couples. They come for the colleges events or are on vacation. And they are very decent people. And they need a place to stay. That's why I'm writing all this. For example, during Cornell graduation weekend, lots of people are coming to Tompkins County. It gets very hard to find a place to stay. In Lansing there are lots of people renting out their places although it's not allowed. Why should people have to be sneaky about it? Change the rules. Lansing has a good legal counsel, he can write the rules so that most people will find them acceptable.

When I hear about a project being proposed in Lansing such as the conversion of the power plant from coal to natural gas, or the building of the Milton Meadows, I try to think if it is a good project, if it will make Lansing a better place to live in.

I'm trying to come up with ideas that are easy to implement without subsidies, grants, investments or anything else. We have all we need. Just change the rules. Give people a chance.


Claes Nyberg
Lansing, NY
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