October 24, 2021

Motion to sell Parker school delayed

Cortland Standard file photo

Parker Elementary School in Cortland. File photo.

The Cortland school board tabled a motion Tuesday to sell the former Parker Elementary School — and a public referendum on the matter — to give the city of Cortland time to complete an environmental review of the project.

The State Environmental Quality Review Act “requires the sponsoring or approving governmental body to identify and mitigate the significant environmental impacts of the activity it is proposing or permitting,” according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The delay comes a week after the Cortland City Council voted, 8-0, to buy the building for $91, $1 for every year the school was open.

Cortland Englared City School District Superintendent Michael J. Hoose said he didn’t know how long the review would take.

The Cortland Enlarged City School District closed the 50,000-square-foot school in June as it consolidated five elementary schools into three buildings; Virgil Elementary also closed. Parker was chosen for closure in part because it would require several million dollars in improvements to continue.

The YWCA and CAPCO propose taking over the site and dividing its use:
• Cortland Community Action Program Inc. could house pre-kindergartners in four classrooms, opening up classrooms in other locations to serve the birth- to 36-month age group, which had a waiting list of more than 100 children.

• The YWCA could merge two day-care programs, Learning Adventure on Huntington Street and Here We Grow on Homer Avenue, both in the city, to serve more than 100 children under one roof.

District Superintendent Michael J. Hoose said the environmental review could could force a delay of the proposed March 3 vote.

“If SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review act) is not done properly, we would have to cancel that vote,” he said.

Board member Christine Gregory asked Hoose if there had been more talks with city officials about the cost of the environmental review and building inspection, to which Hoose said that there was grant money to help fund these, but Hoose didn’t know how much.

The vote to approve the notice will be considered at the board’s next meeting Jan. 28.