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City files grants to fund trail project

Todd R. McAdam/Contributing Photographer

This path under Interstate 81 near Yaman Park in Cortland leads to the proposed site of a bridge over the West Branch of the Tioghnioga River Tuesday. The city is seeking grants to fund a trail that would include access to the park.

Cortland city officials will know by the end of the year whether they’ll get a $2 million grant to create a bicycle and pedestrian path from SUNY Cortland to Yaman Park.

The city Common Council voted recently to ask for $2 million from the state’s 2017 Climate Communities Smart grant to fund the path, a walkable watershed plan and a plan to improve the Clinton Avenue gateway into the city.

The total cost of the project would be $2.5 million, with $500,000 already raised from grants the city received in December, said city Director of Administration and Finance Mack Cook.

The city also applied for an $850,000 grant through the state’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program to develop another trail from the Tioughnioga River to Church Street.

“If people are coming into town for the first time or stopping to get gas, they’ll look around and say, ‘This is a good-looking place,’ ” Mayor Brian Tobin said.

The path would go from Yaman Park, cross underneath Interstate 81, then over a yet to be built bridge across the Tioughnioga at River Street, which would allow vehicles only in an emergency. It would connect at River Street near the Hampton Inn at 26 River St.

From River Street, the planned trail would go down Clinton Avenue to downtown Cortland, then continue on Groton Avenue until it reaches the SUNY Cortland campus by way of Graham Avenue.

“We’re trying to get it on campus by the administrative parking lot,” Cook said.

The grant applications are part of the Clinton Avenue Corridor Enhancement Initiative, a project designed to give a good impression for people getting off Interstate 81’s Exit 11 onto Clinton Avenue. The project is one of several outlined in the city’s bid for a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a state investment for which Cortland is competing with several cities.

The city received $1.2 million in grants for the Clinton Avenue project in December — $500,000 for the trail itself and $750,000 as part of an economic development award to replace water mains on Clinton Avenue between Pomreroy and Church streets.

Cook could not give a start date for the project as it is dependent on whether the city receives the funding.