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2016 in review: Pool replacement, economic development, church fire

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Swimmers and sunbathers are shown enjoying Wickwire Pool in Cortland on opening day in June after the pool was reconstructed at a cost of nearly $1 million, raised through grants and donations.

For the city of Cortland, big plans and large-scale project proposals were a big part of 2016, and the fundamental changes to the city are something residents will be able to appreciate and see materialize in 2017 and beyond.

Here is a list of some of the projects expected to get off the ground next year and other noteworthy highlights from over the year.

Wickwire Pool work completed

After 70 years, long-awaited repairs and upgrades to the C.C. Wickwire Pool were completed over the spring and the city’s landmark swimming pool in Suggett Park was opened to the public in June.

The $1 million project introduced a ramp into the pool that will allow people in wheelchairs access to the pool for the first time. A wading area for smaller children was also introduced and the dimensions of the pool have been changed to allow swimming competitions there as well.

Residents can expect to see more changes at Wickwire to solidify in 2017 as the city Youth Bureau plans for upgrades to the pool house, which will hopefully be completed by summer 2018.

City secures over $3M in REDC funding

The money the city received as part of the state’s sixth annual Regional Economic Development Council Awards is going to fund a number of fresh ideas and long-awaited projects in the city.

Of the $3.6 million in total funding secured by Cortland County as a member of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, most of it will go toward projects in the city.

In addition to just over $407,500 going to Wickwire Pool House project, the work the money will be used for includes $200,000 to help renovate the long-abandoned building at 51-55 Main St.; $60,000 to fund the city’s “Ski 2 Cortland” marketing campaign; and another $360,000 to outfit part of 38 Main St. for a hostel for actors working at the Cortland Repertory Theatre, and a small performance venue.

Crescent Commons project finalized

Plans to transform a long-vacant building into housing and office space were given a green light in August with the city Planning Commission’s approval of renovations to the former Crescent Corset Co. factory at 165-177 Main St.

David Yaman, owner of David Yaman Realty Services, and owner of the south Main Street building, will partner with Syracuse-based Housing Visions to transform the old factory into office and apartment space.

The building’s first floor will house space for businesses including a day care and two non-profits. The building’s upper floor will contain a total of 37 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom apartments.

In addition, the property has been placed on the state’s Register of Historic Places, meaning the building will look almost exactly the way it did in 1923 when renovations are completed in August.

Fire damages Grace and Holy Spirit

No one was injured in the blaze that burned a section of the Grace and Holy Spirit Church on 13 Court St. in October, but it did temporarily put the future on the Loaves and Fishes food program many residents rely on in jeopardy. The program had been housed in the church basement.

Some faulty wiring in an old fan is believed to be the cause of fire that forced members of Loaves and Fishes, as well as some people taking part in a 12-step recovery program to flee the building.

There was no significant structural damage as a result of the fire, but smoke and water damage on the inside forced the Loaves and Fishes program to temporarily relocate to the United Presbyterian Church, at 25 Church St.

While work on Grace and Holy Spirit Church will continue well into early next year, an access ramp allowed the Loaves and Fishes Program to return to the building in time for the program’s annual Christmas Dinner.

For more of 2016’s top stories, check out our year-in-review roundups.