November 29, 2021

Fixing roofs, moving spaces

Cortland County udpates facilities for efficiency, cost savings

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Alan Ricottilli, the engineering and maintenance supervisor at the Cortland County Highway Department, examines the leaks in the county’s salt barn.

The salt pile is stained. Parts of it are sea-green, with crevices and divots dotting it. It’s from the water leaking from the roof above, said Alan Ricottilli, the engineering and maintenance supervisor for the Cortland County Highway Department.

The salt is in the salt barn, where nearly 4,000 tons of the stuff — minus whatever has dissolved — is waiting for winter. County workers have done what they can to patch the roof, Ricottilli said, some sheet metal here, some plywood there.

Across the lot, he points to the water stains stretching from the ceiling to the floor in one of the garages — alongside electrical conduit, which gives him cause for concern.

“It’s been like that 12, 13 years. Since I’ve been here,” Ricottilli said. “It’s beyond the Band-Aid stage, now.”

Highway Superintendent Charlie Sudbrink said the roof will be fixed later this summer after budgeting $70,000 to $75,000 for the project last year. Once it’s fixed, it is expected to last another 10 to 15 years.

That is just one roof in the county that will be fixed this year as the county updates facilities and moves offices to be more efficient and save money.

A portion of the County Office Building roof that sits over the Department of Social Services was recently repaired after it leaked for several years.

“That roof was completely maintenanced and repaired for less than $4,000,” said Chuck Miller, the maintenance department supervisor during a recent Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting.

The county used roofing company Josall Syracuse Inc. in Syracuse, which has worked with Onondaga County. Miller said the company said it would be a minimum of seven years before the roof would need to be looked at for replacement.

Miller said the company will examine all the highway department roofs. However, Sudbrink said the highway department is in charge of fixing all the roofs for the highway department except the administrative building, which is up to the county maintenance department.

Under the roofs, Miller said departments will be ready to move offices as soon as lifts are in place at the county office building to comply with American with Disability Act.

“One of the real problems with this building is that the back areas are inaccessible by ADA and I’m hoping that we can rectify most of those areas in the future,” Miller said. “We’re doing that so we can get planning into a space to share with real property. There will be a wall between the two spaces, but neither one of them need as much as they’ve had.”

The Planning Department is now at 37 Church St., Cortland, in a building with the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce. The planning department and chamber are the last two to leave that building, which will eventually house the District Attorney’s Office so the court system can use more space in the county courthouse.

“The more space that the court system uses in the courthouse, the more money we receive in our refund every year for maintenance,” Miller said.

Miller said the court system now occupies 62% of the courthouse — that would increase to around 85% once everyone is moved.

Chamber Executive Director Robert Haight said that work is under way for the chamber’s new space at 81-85 Main St. and he expects to move by mid-fall.

“The county has been very patient with us,” he said, but is eager for the new home.

“We’ve never been in a place that had foot traffic.”

Once 37 Church St. is vacated, work will begin on making the space adequate for the district attorney, Miller said.

However, District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said in an email that the building is too small to accommodate the child advocacy center, too. “The space survey indicated that the CAC could not be accommodated even before the CAC increased by 2 * positions,” Perfetti wrote.

Some of the changes are also so that the county can get the Mental Health department back into the County Office Building so that the county doesn’t need to pay rent for the building that Mental Health currently occupies at 7 Clayton Ave.

“It will be a struggle I’m sure because no one likes change, no one likes to move but I think it’s something that has to happen to move us forward financially,” Miller said.