January 26, 2022

City tables Parker purchase

Cortland Standard file photo

Parker Elementary School in Cortland. File photo.

The Cortland Common Council tabled a vote Tuesday to buy the former Parker Elementary School following a discussion regarding absent councilpersons and the cost of the purchase for the city.

The council voted, 6-0, to postpone the city’s purchase of the former school as part of a project to convert it into an early childcare center to be used by the YWCA of Cortland and CAPCO.

Councilpersons Bill Carpenter (D-6th Ward) and John Bennett (D-4th Ward) were absent.

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

Bruce Tytler (D-3rd Ward) said he was in favor of the project but noting the absence of Carpenter and Bennett, wanted to wait until every councilperson could vote.

“I’m in favor of this,” he said. “I would prefer we had a full council before we take this vote.”

Councilperson Kathryn Silliman (D-2nd Ward) said she was OK with tabling the vote but wanted action at the next meeting in two weeks.

“Regardless of whether we have a full council or not in two weeks, I want to vote,” she said.

“You have my word, Katy,” Tytler said. Councilperson Troy Beckwith (D-7th Ward) also questioned what the project will cost for the city.

Mayor Brian Tobin said full costs for the project — including building renovations — would be determined after the city bought the building and then sent out a request for proposal for an architect to report what work would be needed to make the building childcare compliant.

The council was scheduled to vote on the purchase at Tuesday’s meeting, along with authorizing Tobin to send out a request for proposal and agree on a contract with a contractor. With the tabling of the purchase vote, the other actions were tabled as well.

Preliminary estimates suggested the building would need $3.5 million in work eventually, and up to $1.4 million to make it ready for children. Much of that would be paid by grants.

Ninety-four percent of the SUNY Cortland’s 6,500 students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, college Communications

Director Fred Pierce told council members after city residents and officials raised concerns about safety and preventing the virus’ spread.

Of the remaining students, about 200 have a religious or medical exemption, Pierce said. Four were de registered after not responding to a requirement to verify their vaccination.

By comparison, 51.1% of Cortland County residents are fully vaccinated.

Silliman asked what the college was doing about off-campus gatherings where students aren’t masked.

Pierce said the college is working to teach students how to be safe when off campus.

Other concerns, such as students not social distancing or not wearing masks were also raised and what the city can do about it. Tobin said action depends on where these incidents occur.