October 23, 2021

Park plan taking shape

Homer to raze 3 buildings for riverfront project

Jamie Costa/Staff Reporter

A defunct auto shop at 215 S. Main St., Homer, was the last building to be acquired by the village for its linear park project. The village plans to level three buildings this year along the Tioughnioga River’s West Branch

Village of Homer leaders expect to get advice Tuesday on how to proceed with demolition of three properties it has acquired on Route 11 to make way for the first stage of a riverfront park.

“We have plans to knock them down but we don’t have plans for construction at this time,” said Deputy Mayor Patrick Clune. “There are environmental concerns and code issues we have to look at before demolition.”

The project, first proposed in 2015 by then-Mayor Genevieve Suits, was on hold and at risk of losing $380,000 in state funding because of a dispute with one of the property owners.

Clune said the three properties — the site of the former Budget Inn motel, a defunct auto repair shop at 215 S. Main St., and an empty building — will be cleared by the end of the year, if all goes well.

“We are continuing the process with the ultimate goal of taking the buildings down,” Clune said. “We are working as methodically and quickly as we are allowed to.”

The park would stretch 2 miles from Durkee Memorial Park, where the village hoped to build a boat ramp, south toward Cortlandville.

James Harder, previous owner of the former auto repair shop, was offered $118,000 under the previous administration — $28,500 more than the current village board’s offer.

Harder was holding out for the prior offer, and the village considered taking the property through eminent domain.

Then an anonymous donation of $10,000 and more negotiations helped the village buy the property from Harder and the paperwork for the property.

Neighboring business people said he liked the idea of the park and had noticed the buildings had emptied.

“I think it’s supported by most people,” said Rich Crispell, a sales representative for Cook Brothers Truck Parts, located near the buildings. “I haven’t heard anything bad about it.”

With the Homer Elementary School a mile north, Crispell said it will give the students something to do, and he expects it to be more popular than Homer’s competing parks.

When entering the village from Cortland, individuals are met with rundown, vacant buildings.

The linear park will bring an aesthetic look to Main St. and attract more business into town, Crispell said.