November 27, 2021

Parking project underway

Work to upgrade lot at Center for the Arts in Homer

Photo provided by the Homer Center for the Arts

Workers excavate old asphalt from the Homer Center for the Arts to prepare for laying a new parking lot.

Joe Cortese can tell you a number of jokes about the Homer Center for the Arts parking lot. It’s a good lake for ducks to putter around in. Dogs could get lost in the puddles.

“Of course the more people you have at the place the more the parking lot gets used,” said Cortese, the sponsorship coordinator for the center. “It started to look like the Western Front of World War I in the movie ‘1917.’ It was just a mess.”

Over the years, center officials have worked with others to fill the potholes and grade the lots, but the goal was to always redo the two lots entirely. Now that goal is coming true, said Executive Director Ty Marshal.

The work is under way — the lots have been graded and, weather permitting, paving should take place later this week.

“We’re just so excited,” Marshal said. “Everyone knows the parking lots have been a thorn in our side.”

In a time when much is uncertain, like when the coronavirus pandemic might subside enough to allow the center to reopen, Marshal said the organization decided now was a good time to redo the parking lot.

“We believe under our cause or under our mission to make good on the promise the public has made through their donations,” Marshall said.

But he and Cortese said what makes the project even more special is that it is a community project.

Most of the estimated $80,000 project has come from donations, fundraising and in-kind services from construction businesses, the village and town of Homer.

“Probably a third of the donations came from the community, the local public,” Marshal said.

The push to get the lot done came about a year ago when Don Richards of Complete Construction Concepts in Homer and Joe Compagni, a former center board member and former owner of Economy Paving began working together to get other construction organizations to help.

“They kind of became the diplomats to the world of construction and paving folks who have come to our aid,” Cortese said.

Ted Renninger, the construction manager of Complete Construction Concepts, helped. And Chris Henry from Adhan Piping and Cortlandville Sand & Gravel graded the lot, something he had been doing over the years. Homer town and village removed the material from the lot after it was graded.

“They realized they needed exactly the kind of material we were getting rid of,” Cortese said. “The nice thing about that is it benefits the municipalities as well.”

The village also consulted on drainage issues and donated a dry well, said Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe.

“Given the Center for the Arts is a Phase 4 business, we are very concerned about their survival,” McCabe said. “Ty, Sheila (Ryan, assistant director) and the board have had the center on such a growth trajectory, it was the least we could do to ensure they are able to get back into stride once this crisis is behind us.”

Frank Suits Jr., an owner of Suit-Kote, and Stephen Compagni, owner of Economy Paving, agreed to provide paving at a discount. Suit-Kote would supply the material; Compagni would apply it.

“I’ve never seen the level of giving that I’ve seen in Cortland County,” Marshal said.

If all goes as planned, Cortese said most of the project could be done next week.
“I can’t say enough about Mr. Henry, Mr. Richard and the other companies,” he said. “They have really shown us what it means to be a community. It’s amazing these guys work every day, this is their livelihood, and they’re stopping everything they’re doing to come over to the center and put in a parking lot.”