October 17, 2021

C’ville to get $862K in grant money for park

Photo provided by Ben Albright

The turf at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex in Cortlandville is home to Cortland High baseball.

The town of Cortlandville will soon receive more than $860,000 to help cover the cost of construction of Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex, town officials announced Thursday at a special town board meeting to approve a response to public comments on the project.

The $862,000 Empire State Development grant was awarded to the town about 2 1/2 years ago to help build the two baseball fields and facilities at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex, town Supervisor Tom Williams said.

Empire State Development grants offer “financial assistance for projects that promote New York State’s economic health by facilitating job creation and/or retention, or increased business activity in the state,” according to the grant website.

Williams said paperwork and supporting documents were in place by October for the town to receive the money. One of the last steps was to allow for a public comment period until mid-November.

One town resident did submit questions, asking whether a cost-benefit analysis would be performed, to which ESD documents stated it would not be necessary since projects similar to Gutchess generate long-term benefits not captured in the short-term period used for cost-benefit analysis, according to a project overview document.

“ESD staff believe that concerns raised during the comment period are adequately being addressed by the town,” Williams said.

Williams said Thursday’s meeting was called because he wanted the town board to approve or make comments on the findings by ESD. All four board members approved of the findings for submission.

Williams said once the town’s submission is approved by Empire State Development directors next week, the money should soon arrive to the town.

Before the meeting, Williams said Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex generated between $1 million to $1.5 million in 2019, based on state estimates.

“It’s a real money source, not just for Cortlandville, but the area,” he said.

This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of many sports events and programs that would have taken place there.

Even though Williams wasn’t town supervisor at the time the town applied for the grant, he said that it was done to help cover the costs of the complex and spur economic growth in the town and city nearby. This included creating jobs for the construction and work done in relation to the park and improving recreation options in the area.

The first phase of the project — putting in two baseball fields and pavilion, among other things — has been completed. Continued work on the project, including another two baseball fields and six multi-use fields, is expected, but no date for construction has been set and will depend in funding.

Total cost for phase one is around $4.3 million, while the overall cost for the entire park once finished has been estimated between $16 million and $18 million.

The 100-acre park could be completed by 2028, according to a 2018 feasibility study by Chicago-based Market and Feasibility Advisors, which projected the complex would support 102 jobs and create $2.4 million a year in spending.

The site was previously owned by Gutchess Lumber, which swapped the land to the town in return for the 6.1acre Citizens Park land on Route 281 adjacent to the Gutchess facility on McLean Road.