February 27, 2009
Meeting gathers ideas to improve East End
Residents say housing should be improved, businesses and neighborhood promoted
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
The Riverside Plaza on the city’s East End is the neighborhood’s busiest commercial strip. The city is developing a strategic plan to guide and encourage development in its oldest neighborhood.
Cortland resident Judy Risavi joked about installing a trail through the city that went past empty industrial spaces.
“We could say look where Cabaco Bakery used to be or Marvin Windows,” said Risavi in highlighting one of the weaknesses of the city’s East End.
Risavi was one of 20 residents, city officials, and business owners who came to the Ramada Inn on Thursday night to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s East End and possibilities for improving the city’s oldest neighborhood.
All ideas and suggestions will be used in forming the East End Strategic Plan, which will guide the city’s Common Council and Planning Commission in future development of the 6th and 7th wards.
Tony Pace, who lives on East Court Street, suggested that some kind of festival could be held in Dexter Park and possibly receive help from the people who organize St. Anthony’s Festival each year.
“We should try to capitalize on the neighborhood’s Italian heritage,” Pace said, in presenting ideas formed by a group that brainstormed opportunities that could be available for the East End.
Dan Tagliente, who lives on Pomeroy Street, said spot zoning represents a threat to the East End neighborhood and that housing needing to be improved on Clinton Avenue or the area might become rezoned for commercial use in the future.
“More street lights on Clinton Avenue would also make a nice entrance into the city,” said Tagliente, who represents the 7th Ward on the Cortland County Legislature.
Angelo Di Pietro, who owns Angelo’s Hair Salon at 34 Hubbard St., said he had driven past Seneca Falls several times and seen banners that reminded people of upcoming events.
Such promotions could be placed near Interstate 81 for events in Cortland, such as Pumpkinfest, Di Pietro said.
Thoma Development Consultants will develop the strategic plan and organized Thursday’s meeting. Thoma also sent more than 600 surveys to residents asking what improvements they would like to see on the East End.
About 35 percent of the surveys were returned, and they showed stray animals, substandard housing and truck traffic being the top concerns, said Meira Hertzberg, Thoma’s project manager.
All the ideas from Thursday’s public meeting will be submitted to the nine-member steering committee comprised of residents and business owners.
The committee held its first meeting Jan. 24 and will meet again March 12 at the Ramada Inn to continue discussing ways to implement goals for business development and infrastructure improvements to the city’s East End.
The plan is scheduled to be completed in July or August, and Hertzberg said all residents are welcome to attend steering committee meetings to provide ideas and suggestions.
In the fall, the city received a $25,000 technical assistance grant through the state’s Office of Community Renewal to form the East End Strategic Plan, and the city will contribute $10,000 to pay for forming the plan.
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