Main Street work ends with a touch of green

tree on s main

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer     
George Kolba, left, and Marcel Garrow plant a pear tree along south Main Street Thursday. About 75 trees are being planted along the street as a $7 million renovation project comes to an end. Six varieties of trees will be planted, including pear, hornbeam, hawthorn, locust, lilac, and the largest, little leaf linden.

Staff Reporter

Crews are applying the final touches to the $7 million south Main Street project and the stretch of road between Tompkins Street and Valley View Drive will take on a greener appearance.
A smaller-scale transformation is occurring elsewhere in the city
The south Main Street project has taken about seven years from design to finish.
G. DeVincentis & Son Construction and its subcontractor for the landscaping, Hydroseed It Co., will plant about 75 trees between the street and the sidewalk over the next few days, said Neal Gramento, project superintendent.
Grass has already been planted and begun to grow along some sections of the street after the brick-patterned concrete ends, and Gramento said a bit more needs to put in by Hydroseed It.
In addition to the landscaping, the last of the lines need to be painted onto the blacktop, some driveways need to be better “attached” to the new surface, and gravel shoulders need to be put in place past the Starr Road intersection with Page Green Road (which becomes Main Street at the city limits).
Gramento said he hopes to be done by Monday or Tuesday.
Six varieties of trees will be planted, said Callie MacDowall of Hydroseed It, including pear, hornbeam, hawthorn, locust, lilac, and the largest, little leaf linden. MacDowall said the trees are being surrounded by topsoil and double-ground mulch. An iron grating will surround the trunk of each tree.
Meanwhile, a local group coordinated the planting of trees at several other locations in the city.
The city’s Landscape and Design Commission had been working with National Grid, the Department of Public Works, and Tompkins Trust Co. to replace some trees that had been removed after becoming tangled in power lines within the past three years.
Commission member Mike Dexter said three trees were planted on the east side of Church Street between the fountain in Courthouse Park and Port Watson Street.
They were purchased by National Grid, and planted with the help of the DPW.
“Part of the deal that we struck with them when they cut some trees down on Church Street … was that they would replant some of the trees with a different species of trees that were more compatible with the wires,” Dexter said this morning.
A hedge maple, triton maple, and a golden raintree have taken the place of the locust trees that had become an issue for the power company, and they were planted in August.
Last week, a northern red oak tree was planted in front of the Tompkins Trust Co. branch on Clinton Avenue, Dexter said.
“We thought of that idea because the symbol for the Tompkins Trust bank is an oak tree and an acorn,” Dexter said. “The idea is that the tree would grow along with the bank.”
The National Grid supervisor of forestry for the area, Jim Maloney, worked with the commission to ensure that the new trees would not cause any future problems with the power lines.
In addition to these recent planting, Dexter said about 43 trees had been planted over the course of the summer as part of the city’s tree lottery.
“We cut down more dead and diseased trees than we plant,” Dexter said. “Our goal is to someday get ahead of that curve and start planting more trees than we take down.”
Dexter said the Landscape and Design Commission is working toward an “urban forest.”



Medical exam of seized cats under way

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Personnel from Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine and the Ithaca  Shelter Outreach Services began working with local veterinarians on Wednesday to evaluate each of the cats seized from a city property.
Of the 274 animals that were removed from a Wheeler Avenue house and the adjacent clinic by city officials last Friday, three have since died. Technician Yvette Moore of CNY Spay Neuter Assistance Program said one animal had been euthanized on Wednesday after testing positive for a terminal illness.
“We sent two over to the Cortland Animal Hospital (Wednesday) in critical condition, and they passed away overnight,” Moore said Thursday as she stood in the former Cortlandville Fire Station on Route 281, where the animals are being caged and cared for. “They had needed 24-hour care, and we just couldn’t give it to them.”
But not for lack of volunteers, said SPCA shelter manager Eden Avery, who said as of the last count on Wednesday about 130 volunteers have helped feed, give water to and otherwise tend to the animals.
“SUNY Cortland has done great, all those students have come over in carloads,” Avery said as she spent some time in the SPCA animal shelter on McLean Road. “And there’s a lot of returning volunteers, which is great.”
In addition to Cornell and SOS staff, local veterinarians Bill Cadwallader and Heather Sawyer had evaluated almost 100 animals on Wednesday, Avery said, but she was unsure how many were attended to on Thursday.
“Today, when we were doing physicals, we tried to concentrate on the really sick ones,” Moore said.
Of the animals that were examined on Wednesday, about 10 tested positive for feline leukemia and two also tested positive for feline AIDs, Avery said.
They are being kept in a quarantined, “staff-only” section of the former fire station.
Avery said donations have come pouring in, but the specialized food that the cats are being fed really shouldn’t be supplemented by food donations.
She said money and manpower are always appreciated.
Police Chief Jim Nichols said the investigation into the situation is ongoing, and no charges have yet to be leveled against either Eugenia Cute, who lived with and oversaw the animals while they were in the Wheeler Avenue property, or the nonprofit group Purr Fect World Inc., which owned the property and of which Cute is a founding member.



West Nile infected bird found in C’ville

CORTLANDVILLE — A crow found dead on Hart Drive on Aug. 15 has tested positive for West Nile virus, the first bird to test positive _in Cortland County this year, _according to the county Health Department.
Although the county has seen fewer reports of dead birds this year than in previous years, residents should still take precautions, according to Cortland County Environmental Health Director Audrey Lewis.
“We haven’t seen a great number of reports coming in, but the fact that we do have a dead bird means there is virus activity out there,” Lewis said. “It’s really just a matter of awareness, making sure people know to take precautions.”
Such precautions include wearing shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and applying mosquito repellent when outdoors for extended periods of time, especially when near wooded areas and during evening hours, Lewis said.
“Even though people don’t necessarily think mosquitoes are out there in late summer, early fall, adult mosquitoes are out there and it’s important to wear repellent,” she said.
The Health Department all summer has been encouraging residents to dispose of standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, Lewis said, and is continuing to advocate this practice.
Discarded tires, rain gutters, wheelbarrows and outdoor containers such as recycling containers or empty ceramic pots should all be emptied if possible.
Also swimming pools and hot tubs should be cleaned, and water in birdbaths changed at least once every four days.
At this point the Health Department is not planning any aerial spraying or placing larvicide in catch basin for mosquitoes.
Residents who find dead birds or who would like more information are asked to contact the Cortland County Health Department at (607) 753-5035.




Homer hires short-term trash hauler

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The village has hired Superior Disposal Service of Newfield to temporarily pick up its refuse while it works toward a long-term contract to replace a hauler who quit after falling behind in landfill fee payments.
“They were the first ones to get back to us so we talked to them,” Mayor Mike McDermott said.
The decision was approved at Thursday night’s board meeting. It was made after the previous hauler — Groton-based Almost Anything Trash Removal — failed to pay long overdue tipping fees to the county.
The company owed the county about $60,000 as of Aug. 7. It agreed in June to pay $4,000 a month to settle that bill.
Steve Whatman, owner of Almost Anything, said Thursday that he could not pay the fees because the company did not have enough money. The company bid too low for the amount of work it had to do, he said, and did not anticipate the rising cost of gasoline.
The company received the _contract in December 2004. Before that, Doug’s Trash Removal, also of Groton, hauled the village’s refuse.
At the time, Doug’s Trash Removal owner Doug Brown warned Whatman and the village that Whatman’s bid was too low.
McDermott said Thursday that on Aug. 31, Almost Anything gave the village a 60-day notice it wanted to opt out of the contract. But the village wanted a new hauler as soon as possible, he said, since Almost Anything hadn’t fulfilled its obligations to the county landfill, he said.
The company’s last day was Thursday, McDermott said.
The village is looking to award a long-term contract. But in the meantime, Superior will be doing the work, he said.