November 30, 2021

Panel votes on ARP projects

Committee recommends funding for 14 proposals

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Tiffany Bernhardt glides across the ice Wednesday at the JM McDonald Sports Complex in Cortlandville. The complex has asked for federal funding through the county to replace its chiller control system to keep the ice from melting.

After two months of listening to requests for money, an ad hoc committee of Cortland County officials is recommending more than a dozen projects to receive federal funding, part of the America Rescue Plan.

The recommended projects include renovations and repairs to museums, a post-jail community re-entry program and a three-part project to help small businesses recover from the pandemic.

Cortland County will award up to $1 million to promote community development and improvement, and up to $1 million to promote local businesses and economic development.

The panel’s members individually prioritized the projects — and how much money they would suggest the county provide. On Tuesday, the committee voted on each project.

Of the 14 projects the panel will recommend to the Cortland County Legislature’s Finance and Administration Committee, only the Cortland Community Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Cortland Agriculture Corp.,CNY Living History Center, Cortland County Holstein Club and the Catholic Charities of Cortland County are recommended to receive their full funding requests.

Other requests, such as a village of McGraw proposal for sewer lift station replacements and the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District’s request for a stream corridor management project, were moved to another category. The committee recommends the village get its requested $85,272 and the conservation district get $300,000 of a $600,000 request.

“I am pleased that we were able to recommend full or partial funding for so many of them,” said Democratic Conference Leader Beau Harbin (D-Cortland). “Following the idea of helping the most people possible, I believe the committee has done that and come up with creative ways to help make positive change across our community.”

Some projects are more critical to their proponents than others, such as the JM McDonald’s Sports Complex’s desire for a new compressor system to keep the ice rink frozen.

“When we replaced our compressors last winter, we didn’t have the funds to also replace the chiller control system,” said Executive Director Quinn La Rock. “Since then, we’ve had the ice go down around five times, and we’ve had to scramble to try and figure out what the problems were ourselves, rather than getting accurate information from the chiller control system.”

The committee recommends that the sports complex receive $56,000 to replace the ice rink’s temperature control system and the main doors to the complex.

“When we’re looking at the sports complex and their ice rink, that’s a pretty big draw for them,” said committee member Legislator Kevin Fitch (R-Homer, Preble, Scott). “I think that if that ice rink fails, it’s not just Cortland City schools that can’t use it, but Homer and all the other teams, too.”

So far, the committee has proposed allocating only $3.5 million of the $9.2 million of America Rescue Plan funding coming to Cortland County, Harbin said. That’s part of the $1.5 trillion federal fund.

Outside of the economic and community development categories, the next area of focus for the committee is reviewing and allocating funding to county projects, such as the courthouse and mental health building renovation projects, county roads, a senior center and continued COVID response, Harbin said.