SUNY classes begin in Beard Building

Eight graduate courses are being held downtown this fall semester


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer        
SUNY graduate students attend an elementary school practicum and research seminar in the new classrooms housed in the Beard Building on Main Street. Two classrooms in the building are part of the Main Street SUNY Cortland Initiative.

Staff Reporter

Graduate-level classes were held in the Beard Building at 9 Main St. for the first time Wednesday, more than two weeks after the college had hoped to make the transition to the two new classrooms that are part of the Main Street SUNY Cortland Initiative.
As she stood on the sidewalk in front of the Beard Building during a break between afternoon and evening classes, Kim Kocak, of Binghamton, said that she didn’t care where her classes were held, as long as she had a place to park.
“The parking is a huge problem on and off campus,” Kocak said after moving her car, which was parked along the street.
During the day, cars can only park for two hours on the street, while the parking in the Orchard Street lot across the street has a three-hour daytime limit.
After tending to his car, Pouya Goudarzi, of Binghamton, said he wished the city would allow for some type of permitting arrangement for the graduate students taking classes downtown.
“It’s a little inconvenient just running back and forth and moving cars,” Goudarzi said.
Kocak lamented the lack of vending machines in the new facilities, but Goudarzi reminded her that they were surrounded by restaurants.
Rob Rosen, of Ithaca, recommended the Pita Gourmet, which he said had received good reviews from a friend.
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Nancy Aumann said this type of patronage was exactly what the university had hoped for with a downtown classroom location.
“We got our official approval from Albany last Wednesday,” Aumann said Tuesday. “I think any time you do anything a little unique or creative, bureaucracy has a hard time.”
All of the classes that will be held in the downtown building are in the childhood/early childhood department, which Aumann said is basically elementary education.
“We have eight classes scheduled there for this semester, and we expect that to increase next semester,” Distinguished Service Professor Craig Little, the project director, said on Wednesday.
Aumann said the college is talking to other departments, and certainly hopes to increase the number of classes and departments using the two classrooms in the Beard Building.
Little said there is even a chance of some undergraduate classes being held at the downtown location, which he said are as technologically capable as any on-campus classroom.
“If we’re looking at graduate students in teaching programs, we want them to be in the most modern era of technology to serve students and the public schools,” Aumann said. “Our students are only as good as our teachers, so we need to continually update ourselves.”
In the classroom toward the back of the building, long worktables are lined with chairs facing the whiteboards and professor’s desk at the front of the room. In the front classroom that overlooks Main Street through large windows, combined desk/chairs were lined up in orderly rows.
The building’s owner, McNeil Development Co., had extensively renovated the historic building, which also houses the offices of the Community Outreach Partnership Center and the offices of the Cortland Downtown Partnership and its director, Lloyd Purdy.
“The students look happy, and we just got some very nice compliments,” said David McNeil on Wednesday, after stopping by to see how the classes were going. “One of the professors said that it was a comfortable space to teach in.”
Before the classes split up between assistant professors Sue Stratton and Kim Rombach, Little addressed the students and explained the parking situation along and around Main Street.
Little said the influx of students would not increase parking problems downtown because of their limited number and the afternoon and evening class schedule.
Rosen said that although it might be inconvenient if he had to stop by a department or the library, he felt it wasn’t a big deal because he only had two classes each day, anyway.
“It’s just nice being downtown. It’s a change of venue, it’s interesting,” Rosen said before taking a quick walk for the rest of the break period.
As she leaned on the building between classes, Sara Williamson said she had done her undergraduate work at SUNY Oswego and the only place she had ever really been downtown was the Dark Horse Tavern. She commutes from Binghamton.
“I like it better, I don’t mind going out to move my car,” Williamson said. “All our classes are going to be here, so I won’t even go to campus, probably.”
Rombach said she enjoyed teaching in the new classrooms, and she heard positive reviews from the students, as well.
“It feels nice to be able to integrate the college community with Cortland’s downtown,” Rombach said. “Some of the students don’t know much about the downtown community.
Stratton said she was struck by the view of Main Street when she had drawn up the projection screen that had blocked the windows.
“It was majestic.”



Use of new college parking lot expected to increase

Staff Reporter

Three weeks into the fall semester, the new SUNY Cortland parking lot on Prospect Terrace isn’t necessarily taking a big bite out of campus-wide parking problems, but it is providing students with options when parking is tight.
The 101-space lot, located along the lower end of Prospect Terrace between Neubig Hall and the Cortland Rural Cemetery, has drawn modest use since it opened Aug. 23, at its peak operating at only about 60 percent capacity, said Dana Wavle, director of the Auxiliary Services Corp., which operates the lot.
Wavle expects usage to increase as awareness of the lot spreads.
“Every day we’re getting more and more people using it,” Wavle said. “Really we’d prefer to not have full utilization for the first three or four weeks because we still have to put lights up and work some of the kinks out.”
The college will finish landscaping of the lot within the next three weeks, Wavle said, and all of the lights will be installed by the end of September.
The automated payment system — which requires that drivers take a ticket from the console, park, and then on their way driving out of the  lot insert their ticket into the machine and pay — has been working well, he said, and students have been willing to pay the nominal fees, which start at $1 for one hour and go up to $7 for 12 hours or more.
“As the campus figures out how it works and how convenient it is, I think we’ll see more people parking there,” Wavle said.




Ahead of renovation and asbestos cleanup —

Homer library readies for relocation

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The Phillips Free Library is preparing to move to the Center for the Arts for about six months while asbestos is removed from the library.
Jean Cadwallader, president of the library’s board, said officials originally thought the library could stay in its current location, 31 S. Main St. while the work is done.
But library officials recently found out the building can’t be in operation while the asbestos cleanup takes place.
So the library will move some of its books temporarily to the Center for the Arts, at 72 S. Main St., and others to a warehouse, said Cindy Teeter, vice president of the library’s board.
“We really felt if we could possibly stay in that area of the downtown Main Street green area it would make it easier for our patrons,” Teeter said.
The asbestos is in certain isolated parts of the library’s first floor and basement, she said, and is not where it can impact the public.
Cadwallader said asbestos cleanup should start within the next couple of months. It will coincide with $1 million in restorations and renovations to the library.
Restorations include improvements to the original wood floors, carpeting and drop ceilings. They also include a finished basement with meeting rooms, a special collections room and a book sales room.
Other changes will include an expanded children’s room, an elevator for the disabled, a mezzanine area above the existing book stacks, a kitchenette for staff, more books and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
The renovations should take about six months, Cadwallader said.
The library won’t move until it has determined which general contractor it will use for both the asbestos removal and the upgrade work at the library, Teeter said. That should occur within the next month.
The library will be putting the contract up for bid very soon, Teeter said. The general contractor will contract out the different jobs to other companies.
If things go as planned, work on the library should start before the end of October, she said.
“We will probably have to close for a week or two because it’s a huge job to take all the books down,” she said.



Virgil caps off sewer upgrades

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — The town is almost done modifying its waste treatment plant on Route 392.
The plant, which services Greek Peak and its nearby housing development, should be finished by the end of the month, said Town Supervisor Jim Murphy.
“It’s 99 percent complete right now,” Murphy said.
Diane Carlton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the upgrades include a new settling tank, a filtration unit, new screening of influents — organisms that have important interactions with the environment but are not dominant — a secondary clarifier, a new sludge storage tank, a new chlorine contact tank and a new flow meter.
The town started the upgrades in April after the DEC approved its upgrade plans in September 2005. The plans, based on the DEC’s recommendations, accommodate a 150-room hotel that Greek Peek intends to begin constructing once it receives proper building permits.
Greek Peak also is planning to construct hundreds of condominiums and single-family houses near its ski area along Route 392, as well as an indoor water park and a golf course.
Once the improvements at the sewer site are complete, the plant will process 80,000 gallons per day, a 25 percent increase from current levels. Only residents who are served by the wastewater treatment plant pay fees associated with the sewer.
The sewer upgrades have to be completed by Nov. 1, according to an Aug. 16 consent order issued by the DEC. The consent order also required the town to pay the DEC a $1,500 fine for sewer permit limit violations it has had from June 2004 to June 2006.
During that time, the town violated permit limits — including flow, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), suspended solids and residual chlorine limits — 32 times.
The town also violated permit limits before June 2004, said Ken Lynch, regional director for the DEC, this morning. Lynch did not have information this morning on the number of violations nor whether they took place before or after the town took control of the sewer plant from Greek Peak in June 1999.