October 23, 2021

Otter Creek Place traffic local only

Cortland council passes law making turns from Groton Avenue illegal

Otter Creek Place

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

A car turns onto Otter Creek Place from Groton Avenue in Cortland January 2020.

Otter Creek Place will no longer be a shortcut between Groton Avenue and Broadway, after the Cortland Common Council passed a law Tuesday night.

The Council voted, 7-0 with John Bennett (D-4th Ward) absent, to ban turns onto Otter Creek Place from Groton Avenue and place a “local traffic only sign” on the Broadway entrance to the street. The law will not affect local traffic, which will still be able to access Otter Creek Place from both ends and drive both ways on the street.

The council acted following complaints from residents about safety, considering the relatively high volume of traffic combined with the narrowness of the one-lane road, the lack of sidewalks for most of its length and the number of pedestrians using it.

Besides local traffic, the law will not restrict emergency vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists.

Angela Gellaty, who lives at 4 Otter Creek Place, got the attention of city officials after complaining at the council’s Aug. 20 meeting about unsafe conditions. She thanked the council Tuesday night.

“It’s really unsafe,” she said. “I really appreciate that you guys are putting this up for a vote.”

Others, such as resident Jim Place, who lives on nearby Pinecrest Drive, were concerned the change might have the unintended consequence of creating traffic backups at the intersection of Groton and Townley avenues — a concern also shared by Alderman Troy Beckwith (D-7th Ward).

“I really see trouble at that intersection,” Beckwith said.

Mayor Brian Tobin said he would ask the public works department to rack the number of vehicles using the intersection.

Alderman Bruce Tytler (D-3 rd Ward) said he heard a range of opinions from residents in his ward, which includes Otter Creek Place, but he decided to vote in favor of making the change because of safety. He did, however, agree with Beck with that possible increase in traffic at Groton and Townley would have to be monitored.

The new law still has to be sent to Albany to become official. The city also has not yet put up the signs announcing the changed traffic pattern.

The sign proposed for Groton Avenue will be highly visible. At the council’s Jan. 21 meeting, Department of Public Works Superintendent Christopher Bistocchi suggested using a a solar powered, blinking red “do not enter sign.”

The Council also voted, 730, to pass a law changing the city’s fee structure for registering vacant properties.

The new fee structure is copied from those of other cities that have withstood court challenges, said Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance. The city’s current fee structure is unenforceable because of state and federal court rulings, he said.

The new fee structure “keeps fees constant, and it gets properties registered,” he said.