December 2, 2021

Pro-police mural gets council OK

‘Back the Blue’ design gets go-ahead to be painted soon

Volunteers will paint a mural in Cortland supporting police in the next few weeks after Cortland City Council saw its proposed design Tuesday night.

Virgil resident Matt Slowey and Cortland resident William “Bud” Diescher presented the design for the “Back the Blue” mural.

The council voted Aug. 4, 7-0, to allow the Back the Blue mural at a location to be determined.

The mural will be a black box with blue and white lettering in the middle that spells out “Back the Blue,” Slowey said.

The mural will be privately funded, and will be painted by DND Striping of Preble, owned by Dan White. Slowey said that he is not sure how many volunteers will be needed for the project.

“I’m relieved that the process worked the way it did,” he said. “I’m glad the group came up with a plan for this and that council and mayor are behind this idea.”

Slowey proposed painting the mural Aug. 28, with a rain date either Aug. 29 or 30.

However, Mayor Brian Tobin said that those dates conflict with the end of SUNY Cortland’s first week back and might cause traffic problems if the road, which has yet to be decided, were closed that weekend.

He added that he’d prefer the painting to take place on a weekday night.

Slowey said he understands the issue with the date and is more than willing to move the date a few days later.

“I support it fully because I like the idea of honoring local law enforcement,” Alderman Bruce Tytler (D-3rd Ward) said.

However, before the city allows another mural, Tobin said he’d like a few stipulations, including a permit and fee, that requests include a petition signed by 30 residents, that colors and sizes be included in the request, and that painting be done overnight by a professional painter or artist to avoid traffic.

Further, he suggested, the city should have approval over the quality of paint. Profanity or hate speech should not be allowed and applicants should be allowed one touch-up.

Tobin said he plans to present a draft of the proposal to council Sept. 1, and expects a public hearing, with a vote on the proposal Sept. 15.

However, aldermen John Bennett (D-4th Ward) and Kat McCarthy (D-1st Ward) said only one touch-up should be considered following the first painting.

“We cannot allow for constant re-paint,” Bennett said. “We should let nature take its course after one touch-up.”

BLM mural to be touched up

Also Tuesday night, Cortland Common Council:

  • Approved a plan, 6-0, to touch up the Black Lives Matter mural at Main and Court streets because of vandalism and weather damage, to be funded by Tim Bennett of Cortland.
  • Approved, 6-0, additional outdoor seating for the Red Jug Pub, an right of way next to the Central Avenue business, and New York Bagel in two parking spaces, until Oct. 31
  • Voted unanimously to hire Thoma Development Consultants of Cortland for $5,000 to help it seek $500,000 in grants for a $4.5 million project on Homer Avenue led by David Yaman.

Yaman plans to renovate the 120,000-square-foot Homer Avenue plaza to house Cortland ReUse — a fledgling non-profit that acquires and sells reusable building materials and other goods — a fitness center and general office space.

  • Reviewed its sign ordinance as election season draws close. The city allows two signs per property, which must be removed 30 days after the election and cannot be in the green space between the sidewalk and curb, Mayor Brian Tobin said.

“I recently drove through the city and noticed some signs were not in compliance,” he said.