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March 27, 2012

 

City gateway project attracts interest

11 firms want to develop plan to improve area near I-81 exit to lure travelers downtown

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandardnews.net

Eleven architecture and design firms say they have what it takes to design a more appealing gateway for travelers entering downtown Cortland.
The city is looking to improve its entryway into downtown from Interstate 81’s Exit 11 and has received 11 applications from interested firms that want to do the project.
The idea is to refurbish the area near Pomeroy Street and Clinton Avenue to let travelers know that downtown Cortland is less than a mile away, said Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance.
“This project is much more than a few new signs,” Cook said. “It’s, ‘How do we increase traffic into the downtown core, and how do we increase traffic into the Riverside Plaza? How do we capture the number of non-Cortland residents who get off at that exit and them to see the city?’ “
Cook said city officials will be interviewing a few of the design firms for the project in the next few months. The city could have the final design for the gateway by the fall, said Rich Cunningham, program manager for Thoma Development Consultants, which is working with the city on the project.
Cook said the firms’ applications do not include formal design proposals and mostly focus on their qualifications for the job. The selected-firm will look to input from the city and community during public meetings before creating a design for the gateway.
Cook said traffic figures show the need for a better gateway. More than 17,000 vehicles travel on Clinton Avenue near the Riverside Plaza, according to the state Department of Transportation. But just under 6,500 vehicles travel on Main Street between the Groton Avenue and Port Watson Street intersections.
The city received qualifications packets from 11 firms: Synthesis Architects; C&S Companies; Barton & Loguidice, P.C.; Haas Landscape Architects; Holmes, King and Kallquist; QPK Design; Behan Planning and Design; Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board; Peter J. Smith & Co.; Urban Research & Development Corp.; and Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates.
The city has budgeted between $15,000 and $30,000 for the design proposal. The amount for the actual project will be determined, Cunningham and Cook said.
Cunningham said the city would likely do the gateway project in phases as it receives grants.
The city will pursue grant funding that would cover some of the project costs, Cook said.
Connecting I-81 to downtown Cortland is part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which Mayor Brian Tobin said will be adopted in the next few months.
There will be a public hearing on the comprehensive plan at 5:15 p.m. April 23 in City Hall.
The plan provides guidance on the use of land, resources, economic development and residential life citywide.

 

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