September 08, 2007


Slightly behind schedule —

Crown Homes rehabilitation project will be ready by next fall

$8.2 million in new construction, renovation going on in city’s 5th Ward


Photos by Bob Ellis/staff photographer
A worker removes plaster and lath from a house on south Main Street. Workers are removing asbestos prior to renovation as part of the Housing Visions Unlimited project.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — The Cortland Crown Homes project is moving along, albeit slightly behind schedule, with some demolitions completed and more on the way.
The $8.2 million rehabilitation of existing structures and the new construction — replacing those that are being demolished — will continue through the winter.
Jim Hoy is the director of construction for Housing Visions Unlimited, the Syracuse-based nonprofit that is using federal tax credits to rehabilitate 30 apartment units in the city’s 5th Ward.
Hoy said he hopes the new construction would be enclosed by the time the snow flies, and the project should be completed by next fall.
“We had originally planned to the do demolition way back in early spring, but it took a long time to get the tenants relocated. We are behind, but we plan on catching up,” Hoy said Thursday.
A total of eight buildings will be available to low-income tenants who fall below 60 percent of the state’s median income level — three newly constructed and five rehabilitated.
Nine buildings were included in the properties that Housing Visions purchased last year, but a site on the corner of south Main Street and Frederick Avenue will be used as parking and green space.
The largest and remaining demolition is at 148 Main St., the former Shamrock, which is also the largest new construction.
“That’s going to be demolished by the end of the month, I believe, and we’ll start the foundation for that shortly thereafter,” making way for a nine-unit building, Hoy said. “That will be a fairly large structure on a narrow lot.”
A three-family apartment building at 1 Frederick Ave. was not originally scheduled to be demolished but Hoy said high levels of asbestos made it necessary to demolish the old building and construct a new three-family home.
A large burned out home at 5 Union St. was demolished about a week ago, Hoy said. The preliminary work on the new foundation began last week and should begin in earnest next week, with the framing for the two-family house to follow soon after.
“The goal is to get the new construction up and roofed before the snow flies. Actually, we have some guys who are pretty good workers and they’ll go right through the winter,” Hoy said. “We don’t stop for the winter. We slow down, but we don’t stop.”
The properties to be rehabilitated include: 2 Argyle Place, 152 Main St., 156 Main St. front and 156 Main St. rear, and 164 Main St.
“Those are in various states of asbestos abatement right now,” Hoy said.
The siding of the houses is expected to begin during the wintertime.
Roughly 70 percent of the money for the project comes from private investor equity raised from low-income tax credits, with another 25 percent from the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corp. and the state’s HOME program, which is intended to expand the supply of decent, safe and affordable housing within the state, according to the program’s Web site.
Approximately 5 percent is from the city of Cortland’s Community Development Block Grant funds.
The Cortland County Industrial Development Agency accepted a 15-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement in February 2006 that would allow Housing Visions to pay a fixed rate of $12,000 annually, or 10 percent of annual rental income, whichever is higher, on the properties.
At the time, the property assessments placed the estimated annual county, school and city taxes for the properties, totaling about 10 buildings, at $24,050, and Housing Visions President Kenyon Craig said the rental revenue would likely exceed the fixed rate.
“We have a lot of people watching us other than just the general public — we have a lot of requirements that we have to fulfill,” Hoy said.
Architects from both the banks providing the funding and the state also check the progress of the projects regularly.



City program that connects police with youth recognized with state award

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — A joint program between the Cortland Youth Bureau and the City of Cortland Police Department won a first place award for public safety at the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials in June.
The City of Cortland’s Police Outreach Program was chosen as a model program, winning first place for the local government achievement award in the public safety category.
“They like the fact that the police department was working with the youth in the community,” said Peter A. Baynes, executive director for NYCOM, referring to the selection committee. “It is also the kind of program that can be duplicated in other communities.”
POP, which is run out of the city’s Youth Bureau, first began in 1998 as a Saturday night program in which a police officer would come into the teen center and interact with the youths.
In 1999, the Youth Bureau received an $18,000 federal grant called the Edward Byrne Memorial Fund and a $15,000 member item from then Rep. Marty Luster (D-Ithaca). The money provided funds for the POP program to expand to the five area parks and have an officer at the teen center both Friday and Saturday nights.
Susan Williams, youth services supervisor for the Cortland Youth Bureau, said the combination of those grants funded the POP program until 2002.
Another Byrne grant allowed the Youth Bureau to continue the program until 2005. In 2005, the grant was not renewed and the POP was cut back for that year.
In 2006, Williams said the city adopted the POP funding into the Youth Bureau’s annual operating budget.


As county turns 200 —

Bicentennial celebration to stretch throughout ’08

Staff Reporter

When Cortland County celebrated its 150th year of existence in 1958, Pete Lalla remembers a spectacle and a sense of pride that encompassed the entire community.
“As a kid, it was quite an event, with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it,” said Lalla, who was 12 in 1958. “All of us kids knew there’d be a parade downtown, a big party afterwards down on Randall Field … it was really something special, everywhere you went people were celebrating the county and all it had accomplished in 150 years.”
With that sesquicentennial celebration in mind, organizers of the Cortland County’s bicentennial celebration in 2008 are hoping to harness similar community enthusiasm and involvement.
“Looking back at all the old photos and old documents, it’s amazing the number of events they had planned, the number of volunteers and people involved,” said County Historian Jeremy Boylan, who is heading up the bicentennial committee. “The committee really gathered together to celebrate … hopefully the bicentennial will come close to that.”
The committee will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the East End Community Center to discuss plans for the bicentennial and to reminisce about the successes of the sesquicentennial, Boylan said.
“I’m looking forward to going, just to see what other people remember,” Lalla said. “The people who were a little older, who may have participated in setting the whole thing up, they’re probably in their 70s by now, so I think it’d be interesting to see their perspective.”
The sesquicentennial celebration  included three parades, in Cortland, Marathon and Homer, Boylan said.
There is just one bicentennial parade planned, but it will feature floats from all of the county’s towns and villages, celebrating each municipality’s history.