January 09, 2008


Winter golfers see green

More than 100 play round at thawed Walden Oaks Country Club Tuesday


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jim Ferro avoids the patches of snow on part of the course at Walden Oaks Tuesday afternoon. Ferro was playing with Lou and Sharon Free and Joe Covington in 60 degree weather.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — With temperatures reaching the mid-60s Tuesday, golfers packed onto Walden Oaks Country Club for the first day of golf this year.
Marcus Bernardo, operations manager at the golf course, said more than 100 people showed up to play golf from the course’s opening at 8 a.m. until it closed at dark.
“It’s usually the die-hard members and retired people,” Bernardo said of the types of golfers who come out in January. He added that many were also people who skipped work to enjoy the unusual golfing weather.
“It’s not too often you can come out in January and play,” said Rob Phelps, who works at the golf course.
The golf course at Walden Oaks Country Club closed in the beginning of November and reopened Tuesday. It was the only course open Tuesday. Elm Tree Golf Course on Route 13 in Virgil was closed because the course was too wet.
The Willowbrook Golf Club on Route 215 in Cortlandville will open in March for its regular golf season.
Bernardo said the Walden Oaks golf course would stay open for at least the remainder of the week; after that it’s weather permitting.
Last year, the course stayed open through Jan. 7 because of an unusually dry winter.
Bernardo said only the golf course and the pro shop would be open this week. As a result, only Bernardo and one other person were needed to staff the facilities.
“We were riding snowmobiles on Saturday and we’re golfing on Tuesday,” said Brian Malchak, 29, of McGraw, who was golfing with two friends.
Dick Bottoff, 69, of Cortlandville, was also enjoying the weather with a friend Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s such nice weather. If I can’t snowmobile, I might as well play golf,” Bottoff said. “I like to be outdoors.”
Although two holes on the 18-hole course were closed because of the melting snow, many thought the snow and ice scattered on the greens didn’t hinder their games.
“Actually the ice on the pond improved our game,” said Dick Shattuck, 68, of Cortlandville. “Less penalty strokes.”
Bernardo said he expects today’s higher than usual temperatures to draw in another crowd, but said it will slow down once it cools down later in the week.
“It didn’t take much convincing” to get out to the golf course, said Mark Hunt, 44, of Killawog, who was golfing with three friends.
“It’s the first time we’ve played in January,” Scott Reilly, 37, of Marathon added.





River Trail costs double

Engineers working to scale back project as county considers possibility of contributing money

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — The engineering firm designing the Tioughnioga River Trail between Cortland and Homer is working to trim back the project after discovering the trail as originally proposed would cost $2.8 million rather than the expected $1.4 million.
Unless the 2.7-mile project between Yaman Park in Cortland and Albany Street in Homer can be paid for in its entirety using the $1.4 million in federal and state grants that have been earmarked, it seems unlikely that the county would pursue the trail’s construction.
Project lead designer Todd Humphrey of Syracuse-based C&S Engineering — retained by the county in February 2006 for the project — said the design engineers were still hammering out the preliminary design of the project.
“At this point, what we’re trying to do is come up with a design that will fall within that number (the budget),” Humphrey said Tuesday.
The estimates for the trail’s final cost were made several years ago, and the ever-rising price of oil and that product’s impact on the rest of the market means that materials costs are much higher than when the project was first proposed.
Meanwhile, there still has to be some room left in the project budget for the cost of securing easements of properties the trail will run across. Estimates are impossible to make until appraisals of the needed properties are performed.
County Administrator Scott Schrader also wondered if the cost of securing easements was taken into account when the estimated project budget was established.
Schrader said that some easements that had been obtained at no cost while the BDC/IDA was still handling the project are rendered null and void because they were not acquired within the federal guidelines.
The easements alone can take between six months and a year to obtain, Humphrey said.
The previous design of the trail has been plugged into a three-dimensional computer-modeling program that allows the engineers to play with the path of the trail. A trail that better follows the natural contours of the land means that less earth-moving has to be performed to install the 10-foot wide, asphalt path.
“We are looking for the way that we can construct this in the most economical manner,” Humphrey said.



Auction date set for Riverside Plaza

Bank hopes to recoup $4.6 million plaza owner owes on defaulted loan at Feb. 25 sale

Staff Reporter

Riverside Plaza will be sold at a public auction Feb. 25 as the bank that holds its mortgage tries to recoup $4.6 million owed it by the plaza’s Buffalo-based owner.
The auction will take place at 2 p.m. in the rotunda of the Cortland County Courthouse.
Foreclosure proceedings have been ongoing since January 2007.
Plaza owner 81 & 13 Cortland Associates, a limited liability partnership set up by the Bella Vista Group, owes Lehman Brothers Bank $4,605,156, according to Cortland lawyer Patrick Snyder, who is overseeing the foreclosure.
An auction date was set at the end of last week, Snyder said.
William Colucci of the Syracuse-based Pyramid Brokerage Co. has been managing the property since his appointment as receiver at the start of the foreclosure process.
The auction is open to any interested parties, Snyder said, including the bank and 81 & 13 Cortland Associates. A successful bidder will likely have to put down 10 percent of the bid amount at the auction, he said.
Snyder said information about the auction will soon be published in legal notices in the Cortland Standard.
Lehman Brothers Bank has not decided if it will bid on the property, said Mark Slama of New York City-based Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, who is representing the bank in the foreclosure.
Joe Cipolla, principal partner of 81 & 13 Cortland Associates, found out about the auction Tuesday.
He said he needed to talk with his lawyer, Donald Summer, to determine whether his company will bid on the plaza. In the past Cipolla has said 81 & 13 Cortland Associates would like to bid on the property.
Snyder said if the highest bid for the plaza is less than the $4.6 million owed, the difference will be forgiven.
Slama said it is hard to know if the property will sell for more than $4.6 million.
“I don’t think anyone knows what the property is worth,” he said. “Everyone sure hopes it’s worth what they owe us.”
The property is assessed at $3,743,200, according to Cortland County Real Property Tax Services.