December 5, 2021

Tobin sets record with 5th term as city mayor

Travis Dunn/staff reporter

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin, who was sworn in for a historic fifth term Dec. 28, answers email in his office Friday.

When Mayor Brian Tobin brings to order the Common Council meeting tonight, it will be as the historic fifth-term mayor of the city of Cortland.

No other mayor has earned that distinction, although two — Ron Walsh and Morris Noss — came close, serving four terms each.

But despite Tobin’s eight years of experience, he said he is focused on what he can do in the future.

“You can’t live on our past accomplishment,” he said. “You have to keep moving forward.”

Tobin says he has three priorities for his new term: neighborhood development, downtown development and “keeping Cortland family-friendly.”

The second of those priorities — downtown development — was also one of the hallmarks of his last term, which saw the city winning $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds from the state, in addition to $21 million in state and federal grants and loans for overhauling the entire east-west corridor of the city, a project that began last summer on Clinton Avenue.

“Our downtown growth will help drive more economic growth,” Tobin said.

Once the Clinton Avenue portion of the project is completed, visitors entering Cortland from Interstate 81 are “going to see a very attractive gateway to the community,” he said.

Travis Dunn/staff reporter

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin, who was sworn in for a historic fifth term Dec. 28, proof- reads the agenda for tonight’s Common Council meeting in his office Friday.

While the city will continue to work on these projects, Tobin said the city will also begin to look at improving other neighborhoods, especially in the east and south sides, which are being considered as part of a state-designated Brownfields Opportunity Area.

The state program is meant to revitalize post-industrial areas, said Colleen Nelson, a consultant with Thoma Development. The city has 42 brownfields, vacant or under-used properties, 26 in the 540-acre Southeast Cortland Redevelopment Area.

“We’re going to continue to look at what we can do… to make Cortland an attractive place for people to live,” he said. “We want to continue to keep our neighborhoods strong.”

He also wants to continue to make the city attractive for families with young children. The overhaul of the Wickwire pool building in Suggett Park is one recent example of this, he said.

Former Mayor Ron Walsh, a Democrat, who served from 1992 through 2000, has been a supporter of Tobin’s from the beginning, back when he first ran for mayor in 2011.

“Actually, I’m a little disappointed that my record’s being broken,” he joked.

“You know, what I really admire about Brian is that he really gets the job done” but doesn’t have a “huge ego” and works for the general good, he said. “He’s a true public servant.”

Tobin, he said, has been able “to deliver services without presenting budgets that excessively increase taxes, which is always challenging in a municipal environment.”

He also praised Tobin for downtown redevelopment projects, including the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“He deserves a lot of credit for pulling that off,” Walsh said.