October 18, 2021

Parker School to receive $180K in ARP aid

Kevin Conlon/city editor

A runner passes the former Parker Elementary School on Madison Street in Cortland on Wednesday. The city is considering resuming a plan to buy the building to lease to child-care providers.

The city of Cortland will vote on using nearly $200,000 to hire an architect to design plans to convert the former Parker School into a child care center, Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said Thursday.

Tobin released a list of priorities for the city on how it will spend $1.9 million over 2021 and 2022 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, proposing $1 million for city support services, $745,000 to support non-profit organizations and $122,000 for bonuses for city workers.

Under community support and outreach, $230,000 has been marked for childcare service providers. Tobin said the following amounts were going to each:

  • $180,000 for Parker School.
  • $40,000 for Cortland Child Development Centers.
  • $10,000 for at-home providers.

The $180,000 will cover the cost to hire an engineer and architect, as Tobin plans to ask the Cortland Common Council to put out a request for proposals at its next meeting Tuesday.

The initial work to make the building ready for children would cost $1.4 million, including upgrading the classrooms and renovating the playground and outdoor equipment. A 2020 estimate suggested the building would need $3.5 million in renovations eventually, a figure Tobin said has likely changed.

“The time to move on this is now,” he said, noting that CAPCO and the YWCA of Cortland, the two organizations involved, are ready to begin using the building.

Officials from the Cortland Child Development Centers declined to comment.

Tobin said he would ask the council to set a date for the purchase of the Parker School from the Cortland Enlarged City School District and approve receipt of an Empire State Development grant that can cover up to $500,000.

The purchase price for the building is $91, $1 for every year the school was open.

“If it advances, I think the city of Cortland would be making an amazing decision for the community and bring an early-learning initiative to this community,” said YWCA Executive Director Kelly Tobin.

Kelly Tobin is Brian Tobin’s wife.

She said having the Cortland Common Council approve the request for proposals and continuing the process to purchase the building would allow the YWCA to further determine how many spots they can fill.

Brian Tobin said the schedule, if all goes according to plan, is to have the child care programs open at the building in the fall of 2022.

The city will receive $2.05 million from the America Rescue Plan in 2021 and 2022.