Ten Cortland County projects won $5.2 million in state funding Wednesday, as Central New York gained $86.4 million in state assistance for economic development, more than any region in New York.
The money will help fund:
• The first phase of a planned sports complex in Cortlandville.
• A construction and demolition materials recycling center in Cortland.
• A replacement to an historic Homer building destroyed in a 2016 fire.
• A plan to consolidate a number of nonprofit services at a former shopping plaza in Cortland.
All four projects have an important role in stabilizing neighborhoods, creating jobs and drawing money to the county, said Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and member of the regional economic development council. The sports complex will bring economic growth through hosting sports tournaments and drawing tourism dollars. The Homer Avenue plaza, which will cluster nonprofits, will stabilize a building that has been vacant for the better part of a decade. The new recycling center will reduce waste going to landfills and create jobs. And replacing the Ames building in Homer will fill in a hole in the village’s streetscape.
“When looked at what we’re doing downtown with the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative),” Van- Gorder said, “we have a lot of great things going on.”
4 priority projects from Cortland County to receive funds
• Homer Avenue shopping center: A consortium of nonprofits, including the YWCA, Cortland County Historical Society, Cornell Co-op Extension of Cortland County and Seven Valleys Health Coalition, would fill the former P&C grocery with a year-round farmers market, day-care programs, a homeless and abused women’s shelter, Cornell Cooperative Extension offices and some historical exhibits. The project would cost $5.5 million, with state funds covering $925,000 and the rest coming from private sources.
• First Phase of Gutchess Sports Complex in Cortlandville: The first phase of construction includes two turf baseball fields, infrastructure work, a parking lot and restrooms. The project has a cost of $4.3 million, with Empire State Development funds covering $862,000 and the rest coming from state grants and local sources. The full project at the 90-acre park — four baseball fields and a dozen multi-use fields — would cost $15 million to $18 million.
• The Ames building in Homer: The Ames building, which burned in 2016, would be replaced with an 8,000-square-foot building with retail space on the first floor and six market rate apartments on the second and third floors. The project would cost about $2 million, with Empire State Development grants covering $240,000 and the rest coming from private funds.
• Contento’s Recycling Center: A new recycling center at Contento’s Pendleton Street location would sort, recycle and process up to 250 tons of construction and demolition waste per day. The project would cost $730,000, with Empire State Development grants covering $145,000 and the rest coming from private funds and cash equity.
Six other county projects also received funding:
• City alternative transportation program on Clinton Avenue, which calls for a dedicated bike lane along the street: $2 million
• Cortland Fire Station window replacement: $178,305
• Village of Marathon water treatment plant improvements: $30,000
• City of Cortland/Village of Homer water meter program: $400,000
• Cortland County Microenterprise Assistance Program: $200,000
• Village of Homer Microenterprise Assistance Program: $200,000
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the awards Wednesday as part of the state’s annual Regional Economic Development Council awards.
“These awards are critical to building the foundations for New York’s future and ensuring that our economic momentum continues,” Cuomo said. “I congratulate each of the councils on their awards and look forward to continuing to partner to keep our communities vibrant and thriving for years to come.”
In addition to the $5.2 million for Cortland, the five Central New York counties — Cortland, Onondaga, Madison, Oswego and Cayuga — will also share $500,000 to help farmers meet the state’s Grown and Certified program certifications, which helps promote state farmers who adhere to food safety and environmental sustainability, $150,000 for a lifestyle marketing campaign and $75,000 for a work force and training program. They are among $755 million in development grants statewide.
Also, Cayuga County Soil and Water District will get $280,000 to build streambank protection structures in Locke and Moravia, said state Sen. James L. Seward (R-Milford). “The award-winning projects in the 51st Senate District are extremely diverse and will pay long-term dividends when it comes to job creation, quality of life, and new opportunities for growth,” Seward said.
The grants, up from $3.6 million last year, would allow David Yaman to start work on two of the four priority projects — replacing the Ames building on South Main Street in Homer and re-developing a plaza on Homer Avenue in Cortland.
In fact, said Yaman, of Yaman Realty Services, the projects would not be possible without the grants.
“Because of modern building codes,” Yaman said about the Ames building site, “I have to put in an elevator, a sprinkler system and it has to conform with the historic environment. The income generated would not support the expenses.”
But with the money, he plans to begin work in May, with completion in November 2018. The first phase of the Homer Avenue project, consolidating a pair of YWCA day-care programs into the facility, would also start in May with a completion by the end of next year.
Anthony Contento, the vice president of Contento’s Recycling, said a plan to build a recycling center for construction and demolition waste, like wood, concrete, brick, cardboard, metal will take out hundreds of tons of landfill waste a day.
Contento said most of the intake would come from Cortland Tompkins and Onondaga counties. The new facility would initially create four jobs, with more created based on growth over the next five years.
“We hope to be up and running by the end of May or early June,” Contento said, with construction for the facility to start in March. “This is a big step forward for the county for being sustainable.”
Contento’s is waiting to be awarded a $100,000 Cortland Business Development block grant from the city before starting construction.
Cortlandville Town Supervisor Richard Tupper said bid documents for the first phase of the Gutchess Sports Complex on Route 13 South are almost complete, with bidding anticipated to take place during the winter and construction to begin in spring.
“We’re very pleased that the state is willing to help,” Tupper said, with this grant being the third time the complex has been awarded a state grant. The two other state grants were worth $250,000 and $75,000. Tupper expects to have the first phase completed in 2018.
The Central New York Economic Development Region has been a top performer, getting additional money than other regions, in six of the seven years the economic development regions were awarded funds.
“This is obviously great news for us,” said VanGorder. “We have real momentum across Central New York, and our Cortland projects will serve as a perfect capstone to the city’s $10 million DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) award. Some of them have a chance to be transformative.”
CNY top award winner
More than $755 million in economic and community development funding was awarded through Round VII of the Regional Economic Development Council. Central New York, including Cortland County, got more assistance than any other region:
Central New York – $86.4 million for 112 projects
Mohawk Valley – $85.5 million for 101 projects
Capital Region – $85.0 million for 110 projects
Mid-Hudson – $84.8 million for 113 projects
Long Island – $84.3 million for 98 projects
Western New York – $68.8 million for 112 projects
Southern Tier – $67.3 million for 83 projects
North Country – $64.9 million for 81 projects
New York City – $64.8 million for 121 projects
Finger Lakes – $63.9 million for 110 projects
After seven rounds of competitive funding:
Central New York – $615.5 million for 617 projects
Long Island – $570.8 million for 688 projects
Finger Lakes – $570.1 million for 715 projects
Mid-Hudson – $560.7 million for 687 projects
North Country – $549.5 million for 537 projects
Southern Tier – $547.9 million for 554 projects
Mohawk Valley – $529.6 million for 563 projects
Capital Region – $521.9 million for 718 projects
Western New York – $487.2 million for 663 projects
New York City – $465.1 million for 573 projects
SOURCE: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo