April 22, 2009


Local stimulus funding requests top $130 million

Hospital seeks about $50 million for addition, while college requests nearly $30 million for projects


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
A group of students walk by Neubig Hall on the SUNY Cortland campus Tuesday afternoon. The college has requested $4.2 million of federal stimulus funding for the renovation of the building.

Staff Reporter

Municipalities, school districts and nonprofit organizations across Cortland County have applied for more than $130 million to fund more than 60 construction and renovation projects through the federal economic stimulus fund.
The state is in the process of allocating $24.6 billion granted to New York in the $787 billion federal stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama Feb. 17.
The money is intended to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities and improve health care.
The state Web site contains a 774-page list of local and statewide projects that have applied to receive funding through the economic stimulus. None of the projects are guaranteed funding, which is highly competitive.
Representatives from the state Division of the Budget could not be reached for comment, but Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, said in an e-mail message that the project applications will be reviewed by the state Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet.
Duggan noted there is not a firm deadline, but half of all infrastructure funds will be allocated within 120 days, and the remaining funds will be allocated within one year.
Cortland Regional Medical Center has applied for about $47 million, including $26 million for a three-story addition to the hospital to house a maternity and surgical wing, about $3 million to build a medical office building across the street from the hospital, and $750,000 to realign the intersection of Homer Avenue and West Main Street to make room for a semi-circular driveway at the front of the building to allow better access to the hospital.
Tom Quinn, CRMC’s director of marketing, said the hospital did not have any estimates of people that it would be hiring as part of the project but pointed out that construction companies would be hired and the hospital would likely increase its staff once the new addition was ready to be opened.
“Getting this money would be a great boom to the hospital and to the community at large,” Quinn said. “It would allow us to improve the availability and quality of health care which would benefit to the community.”
Also among the local funding requests are public works projects to improve road and bridges in the county, programs for local school districts and the disabled, and construction and program expenses for health care providers other than Cortland Regional Medical Center.
The city of Cortland has applied for $100,000 to build an earthen berm at the Waterworks that would detain water and aid in mitigating flooding experienced by city residents, $10 million for downtown revitalization, and $7.5 million to renovate the fire station on Court Street.
Mayor Tom Gallagher said the city applied by submitting a request through the state’s Web site and added that he expects to be required to fill out a longer application before the city could receive any funds.
Gallagher added that he did not know when he would hear whether the city had been granted any funds through the economic stimulus bill.
The Cortland School District has applied for $400,000 for early reading intervention, and Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring said the program would involve hiring six full-time reading specialists to work with children on literacy in the primary grades.
“We have too many kids in the primary grades that aren’t performing well in reading, which is a predictor for dropouts and disabilities,” Spring said. “This is the place where we could have the most impact.”
He also noted the school had applied for $250,000 to start a high school course that focuses on renewable energy, such as wind and solar power and biofuels.
The class would be a technology elective in the first year, and in the future, students would have the option of taking the class to fulfill their science requirements, Spring said.
“We already have a group of students that are building an electric car as part of the technology club, and this would to help take that program to the next step,” Spring said.
SUNY Cortland has applied for about $27 million for projects such as a $6.5 million renovation of the 200-bedroom Fitzgerald Hall to include elevators, install a new heating system, and improve the building’s bedrooms and bathrooms and a $16 million, 20,000-square-foot addition to Studio West that would be used to house a public clinic for speech pathology and hearing disorders, said Nasrin Parvizi, associate vice president for facilities management.


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