October 27, 2021

City working on Greenbush; other projects may be on hold

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

A car is driven down Greenbush Street in Cortland. The city’s department of public works is rehabilitating the road this summer between Port Watson and Randall streets. The project will cost $50,000.

The city of Cortland’s department of public works recently started roadwork on part of Greenbush Street between Port Watson and Randall streets, city Department of Public Works Superintendent Chris Bistocchi said.

The roadwork crew milled the street on Tuesday, and the water department plans to work on the gate valves for the water lines early next week. The project will wrap up with laying asphalt at a later date, Bistocchi said. Residents of the section of Greenbush, including April Kampney, are pleased to see work done.

“I’m delighted. It’s pretty well dug up,” she said. “I’ve been here for 27 years and this is the first time it’s being paved. They’ve been very courteous.”

Bistocchi said he made sure his department notified residents on the street by sending a courtesy letter. “We told them, sorry for inconvenience and that we’ll do our best so people can get out of driveways,” he said. “We haven’t had any feedback, good or bad.”

The condition of the road was “horrible,” said Bistocchi, with the damage due to heavy canopy from the large trees, winter potholes, and a slew of road cracks. Bistocchi was originally going to spend $15,000 to patch up the section of the street for a quick fix, but realized it needed more work.

“It would’ve been like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,” he said.

Bistocchi is planning to rehabilitate the road for $50,000, but only the section of the street between Randall and Port Watson streets.

The city was originally going to use state Consolidated Highway and Streets Improvement Program funds to pay for the project. However, the state hasn’t indicated how much funding the city will get, saying the city may see a 20% to 40% cut compared to last year.

Since the CHIP funding is not available at the moment, Bistocchi said he spoke to Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance, about getting funds for the project. Bistocchi said Cook agreed to let Bistocchi take the money from the DPW’s maintenance and repair fund.

That fund has $56,000 and is normally used for patching or street-stripping work. Bistocchi would then put in claims with the state to get reimbursed for the $50,000 using CHIPS funds once the state releases them. Bistocchi said he’s hopeful the funds get released in August. He said with a 40% cut, the city would still see around $168,000 in CHIPS funding.

With the decrease in CHIP funding and the uncertainty of when it will be available, a lack of other state funding for street repairs, and an almost 28% decrease in its work force due to furloughs, Bistocchi said it is likely that other street repair projects the city intended to get done this year won’t be addressed.

“We just don’t have the manpower to work on all of these streets,” he said, including Pleasant Street and Westfield Park, for example.

“They all need it, but they’re all too much money,” he said, noting they cost between $80,000 and $90,000. “I don’t have that type of money in my maintenance account.”

S.N. Briere contributed to this report.