December 6, 2021

Public, officials discuss Tioughnioga River revitalization project

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Concepts for developing land along the Tioughnioga River, in Cortland at Yaman Park, were discussed at a meeting Thursday.

Undeveloped river banks, close proximity to communities and lack of awareness were discussed Thursday by Cortland County residents and officials as part of a presentation on the Tioughnioga Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

The presentation by members of Thoma Development Consultants, the firm overseeing the program, and those associated with the program gave an overview of the program before giving participants a chance to share what they thought some strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities were that could be incorporated in the program.

The program, initially created in 2006, is being updated and focuses on how participating communities can best make use of the Tioughnioga River.

Plans from the original program included, but were not limited to:

  • Create buffers between shorelines and agricultural uses to alleviate pollution and erosion.
  • Strengthen the connection between Cortland’s and village downtowns and the river.
  • Develop restaurants on River Street in Cortland, along the river in downtown Homer and on Cortland or Mill streets in Marathon.

Following the presentation, participants were asked what they thought were strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities for the program in regard to the river corridor near participating communities.

“The banks are relatively undeveloped,” Forrest Earl cited as a strength.

Kenneth Cohen said a strength was the river’s close proximity to towns and villages.

Hope Cross said it’s not uncommon to see people fishing from the river in Marathon.

“Many of us have gone by pulloffs where trucks seemed to be parked or other people park and people are climbing down the bank and going fishing on their breaks or lunch hours,” she said.

For more information
Questions or comments about the program or the process can be sent to Colleen Nelson at

As for weaknesses, Cross said people don’t use the concrete boat launch next to Lovell Field, created around the time of the original plan to access the river. Instead, people opt for a nearby dirt boat launch as the concrete one tends to be covered by mud or water.

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin followed that sentiment, saying that a weakness would be that many people don’t know where launches are located along the river.

As for a threat, Bonnie Quackenbush said lack of interest in the river was one.

“We need people that can stay attentive to the issue” of the well-being of the river, she said.

Opportunities for the program were shared as well including economic growth, improving water quality and helping develop walking and biking trails alongside the river.

Thoma and the local Waterfront Advisory Committee will next begin to look through state policies used for Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs and tailor them to the Tioughnioga Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, said Lucas Raley, a program manager and planner with Thoma Development Consultants.

From there, the committee will meet to discuss potential projects before developing a section on projects for the program.

Early on in the presentation, Raley said that Culyer, Truxton, Virgil and the town of Marathon participated in the 2006 program but are not in the updated version.

Cortland, Cortlandville, Preble, the village and town of Homer and the village of Marathon are participating again, said Colleen Nelson, a program manager and planner with Thoma Development Consultants.