February 4, 2016

7th Ward, 6th District outlooks shared

Staff Reporter

Residents of Cortland’s 7th Ward and 6th County Legislative District canexpect a few headaches — someperiods without water and difficulty getting in and out of their driveways — during work to make the Clinton Avenue entrance into the city moreattractive, city officials said Wednesday night.
Alderman Adam Megivern, aRepublican, and city Finance andAdministration Director MackCook explained what the Gateway Project will mean for neighbors. The $6 million project is meant to eventually make the eastern entrance to the city, fromthe Interstate 81 exit to downtown Cortland, more appealing.
“We want to do this project right the first time,” Megivern said. Residents will be warned of inconveniences with enough time to make arrangements, if necessary.
The project, which will likely be done in spring 2017, will move water and sewer laterals from under Clinton Avenue itself to beneath the sidewalks, Cook said. That will mean disconnecting and reconnecting the services, and some difficulties for residents getting into and out of driveways.
However, Clinton Avenue has seen large-scale improvements like this since it was built nearly a century ago, Cook said. And infrastructure improvements can lead to economic growth.
The city is borrowing $600,000 and received a $1 million state grant for the project, but has a number of options in paying its share, Cook said. It could increase water or sewer fees, or increase the property tax levy. He said he wanted to open the dialogue to make sure this project is something the community wants to invest in.
Dexter Park will also be improved, Cook said. The city has $40,000 forrenovating parks. Split evenly, that would mean $5,000 to each, depending on the ward’s plan. If a warddoesn’t create a plan, other wards can use the money.
Karen Armstrong, a 7th Wardresident and project manager forParkitects, a parks andplaygrounds design company, encouraged residents to think of improvements they’d like to see — perhaps a dogpark, a community garden, or refurbishing a water fountain to let itspray water for children to play in. Armstrong said she has the insightto help assist community members make changes.
The meeting was organized by county Legislator MaryAnn Discenza(D-6th District) and county Budgetand Finance Director Peggy Mousaw. Mousaw said the county’s budgethas flexibility in terms of sharing services. She said the county is looking into the cost of outsourcing, such as using local construction companies forhiring projects.
She also said the county sales taxrevenue for 2015 dropped 1.74 percent.Mousaw said that when community members can meet basic needssuch as fuel, food, taxes and medicine, there is extra money to spend in the community.
“Cortland is a really nice place to live, culturally and economically,” Mousaw said.
The meeting was the first in a series of what Megivern hopes are monthly meetings to involve residents in city changes. Future meetings will be7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the Cortland Community Center on Central Avenue.

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