December 4, 2021

Public input sought on brownfields in city

Bownfield Map Infographic

Derelict buildings, vacant lots and underused property: These are common themes for vast swathes of the east and south sides of the city of Cortland.

But it doesn’t have to be like that forever, and that’s why city officials and Thoma Development Consultants want your input on what might be done with them.

A public workshop for this purpose will be 5:30 p.m. Thursday, at the Port Watson Mini Conference Center, part of a continuing effort of a state Brownfield Opportunity Area program to revitalize postindustrial areas, including neighborhoods “affected by the presence of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites and vacant and abandoned sites,” according to Colleen Nelson, a consultant with Thoma Development.

The meeting will mark the next step of a $585,000 state- and federally-funded program begun in 2012 to improve the 26 brownfields and vacant or underused properties in the 540-acre Southeast Cortland Redevelopment Area, Nelson said. The city has 42 such properties.

“We want to make sure the community has been able to speak their mind,” Nelson said.

The area under consideration is bounded by the Beaudry Park and Northern Concrete Block area in the west, the former Apex Tools building in the north and the former Buckbee-Mears site in the south, according to a map provided by Nelson.

The area has the remnants of several old factories, a waste chemical disposal facility, railroad facilities and other brownfields, surrounded by residential neighbors developed over a century and a half to house workers for those employers.

“One of the goals is to clean these properties up to attract companies to develop the properties,” she said, “because at this time, while the taxes are being paid, there’s not a lot of investment in the properties.”

Mayor Brian Tobin said city officials will work to ensure that these vacant and underused buildings “are not dilapidated” and continue to look for ways to put them to productive use.

“If you build new things, then the assessment goes up,” and this in turn brings in more tax money for the city, while improving the neighborhood in general, Tobin said.

Urban blight is something city officials will continue “to aggressively combat,” he said.

The details

  • What: Brownfield Opportunity Area public workshop
  • When: 5:30 p.m., Thursday
  • Where: Port Watson Mini Conference Center, Port Watson Street, Cortland
  • More info: Contact Colleen Nelson, at Thoma Development Consultants at 607-753-1433 or colleen@