January 18, 2022

Route 11 corridor improvements stall

Cars travel along Route 11 in Cortlandville last Thursday, moving past the former Budget Inn lot.

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Cars travel along Route 11 in Cortlandville last Thursday, moving past the former Budget Inn lot.

The town of Cortlandville, village of Homer and the city for years have wanted to spruce up the Route 11 corridor between the city and the village.

State funding has been awarded, land has been purchased and beginning the long-awaited transformation seems to rest with the village overcoming one simple obstacle: paperwork
The area serves as a gateway for Interstate 81 travelers who decide to take Exit 12. If they head north, they enter the heart of downtown Homer. Southbound travelers pass the CNY Living History Museum in the town before reaching the Cortland Regional Medical Center and eventually downtown Cortland. A sliver of Cortlandville lies between the village and the city.

The three municipalities have been working together to revitalize that stretch of South Main Street/Homer Avenuethat is currently marked byold, abandoned and blighted buildings.

The Budget Inn, a structure that had long been viewed by residents as an eyesore, was the target of an arson in April 2015, resulting in the property being razed a few months later.

Given that about $129,000 in back taxes were owed on the property, the Budget Inn site was auctioned off in July 2015 and purchased by the Cortland County Business Development Corp. at a cost of $77,000.

At the time, BDC Executive Director Garry VanGorder said the agency bought the land specifically on behalf of the town and village so that it could eventually be used for a linear park along the corridor both municipalities had expressed an interest in creating.

Last year, the village received just over $311,400 in state funding it planned to use to acquire and remove buildings on the proposed linear park site along Route 11 and the Tioughnioga River’s West Branch as part of the first stage of the project.

In addition to the Budget Inn property, the properties include Tripp’s automotive repair at 205 S. Main St. and an adjacent building that also used to be an auto repair shop.

VanGorder said the process of securing that money has been holding everybody up.

“The village is working to process the grant paperwork,” he said. “The intent is still to move forward, but the announcement of the grant is one thing. Actually moving ahead with the project, using the state resources as promised, takes a little time.”

Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said Thursday the town hasn’t really moved much. As muchas the town wants to help advance the project, securing the money is something only the village can do.

“The grant went to the village of Homer so the village has got to do all of the paperwork,” Tupper said. “I feel bad that the (BDC) has had to hold on to the property for so long but sometimes it takes a while — especially when you’re dealing with the state.”

Mayor Genevieve Suits said Tuesday the village had to resubmit the paperwork that needed to be filed with the state.

The former village clerk Luanne Randall’s, who stepped down from the position in May, was named in the paperwork the village had to file, Suits said, adding the paperwork has been changed and sent back to the state and she is optimistic the village will secure the money soon.

“We’re hoping in the next couple of weeks we’ll see movement on it,” she said.

City Director of Administration and Finance Mack Cook said Thursday while Cortland might not be focused on the Route 11 corridor right now, which includes Homer Avenue in the city, the project is something the city will want to be a part of once Cortlandville and Homer are ready.

This has more to do than simply the fact that the city has a road leading into the area.

Revitalizing the area near landmarks such as the Cortland Regional Medical Center and the untapped potential in the nearby shopping center is something the city very much wants to be a part of, Cook said.

“When the time comes and that (project) starts to move, I know the city, the village of Homer and the town of Cortlandville — we all have a vested interest,” Cook said. “We have important civic assets on Homer Avenue, so yeah, we’ll be at the table.”

VanGorder echoed Tupper in that he also recognized securing the grant money is not a fast process, but reminded people that enhancing the Route 11 corridor is something that everyone is still committed to doing.

“Certainly, we’d like to complete it sooner rather than later,” he said. “I think it’s a really great opportunity to make that corridor more attractive for visitors and residents in the community.”