December 4, 2021

Street painting probed

Mayor: Shamrock on Central Avenue violates city rules

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

A trash truck on Central Avenue in Cortland prepares to cross a shamrock painted onto the street on Tuesday. The city is investigating to see who painted it, given a moratorium on street paintings following disagreement last year over a Black Lives Matter painting on Main Street and plans for Back the Blue painting on Court Street.

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said Wednesday that the city will investigate a shamrock painted recently on Central Avenue in front of the St. Charles Hotel.

Tobin said he was made aware of it Tuesday before the Cortland Common Council meeting.

During the meeting, Alderwoman Kathryn Silliman (D-2nd Ward) said she was “disappointed that the St. Charles Hotel went ahead and painted a shamrock in front of their establishment” despite the city’s ruling last year prohibiting street painting until April, after being notified by her constituents about the painting.

Tom Brown, who has previously been listed as a part-owner of the St. Charles, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

An employee working at the hotel declined to comment as well.

Tobin said that no formal request had been made to the Common Council before painting the shamrock. Additionally, he said he didn’t have an issue with the image itself, painted in time for St. Patrick’s Day, but that it violated city rulings made last year.

Last summer, a Black Lives Matter mural was painted at Main and Court streets. Following that, a mural for Back the Blue mural was proposed on Court Street in front of the Cortland Police Department and initially accepted before the Common Council voted against any street paintings until April 2021.

Regardless of the image, “the law has to apply to all,” Tobin said.

He said he was working on the assumption that the painting wasn’t done out of malice, but done to celebrate the holiday.

The city has historically not imposed financial penalties for violations like this, instead seeking to work with individuals involved to get into compliance, Tobin said.

Tobin noted though that issues of large gatherings and other anti-COVID safety guidelines were big issues for St. Patrick’s Day.

“I encourage everyone to celebrate responsibility,” Tobin said.