September 18, 2007


Conference attracts 500 young professionals, community leaders


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum greets New York’s first lady, Silda Wall Spitzer, as she arrives for the start of the first-ever “I Live NY Summit” taking place today at Corey Union. The summit will address the causes for young people leaving the state.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Colleen Cappon, a senior communications major at SUNY Cortland, thinks upstate New Yorkers need an attitude change about their home.
When she tells them she plans to pursue a career in television journalism they automatically assume she is not going to apply for a job locally.
“They’re like, ‘You’re definitely not going to stay here,’” said Cappon, 21, from Watertown. “I’m like, ‘Why not?’”
Cappon was among approximately 500 SUNY Cortland students, young professionals and community leaders from across the state who attended today’s daylong “I Live New York Summit” at SUNY Cortland.
The summit began at 9 a.m. with a speech in Corey Union by first lady Silda Wall Spitzer, a Harvard law school graduate and former lawyer, about how New York state can retain its young people and attract people from other locations to live here.
Between 1995 and 2000, upstate New York attracted a total of 235,000 young adults and lost a total of 303,000 young adults, according to a study conducted by the New York state Department of Economic Development and Cornell University.
The study additionally found that in 2000, 11,700 people under the age of 28 who had four or more years of college education and were employed moved into the region while nearly 47,000 people with the same qualifications moved out of upstate.
In her speech Silda Wall Spitzer said when she first announced she’d be heading today’s “I Live New York Summit,” no one called to ask what the initiative was about.
“That is because everyone, particularly here in upstate, has their own story of sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, and friends and neighbors who have gone to seek their fortunes elsewhere,” she said.
Spitzer said she has come up with an approach to keeping young professionals in New York state built around five key principals: economic prosperity, lots of small changes, team work between local communities to promote the region, the power of one individual and thinking more positively about communities.
Before the speech, SUNY Cortland graduate leisure management degree student Ben Rowell, a 27-year-old Buffalo-area native, said many of his friends have left the state because they have the feeling that upstate lacks quality jobs.
He said he does not know if that is really the case or not, but suggested the state do a better job of promoting the jobs that do exist.
Cultural resources also need promotion, he said, pointing to Cortland’s Lime Hollow Center for Nature Center for Environment and Culture and the community spirit that helped make the center happen.
“I was very amazed they could build a $1 million center debt-free,” he said.
Wall Spitzer told the crowd their assignment for the day was to network with other younger professionals, share ideas of how they have helped make their communities more attractive and take notes.
Kate Clark, a 30-year-old economic development specialist for the city of Syracuse, and Kristen Brandt, a 26-year-old resource development director for Syracuse’s Habitat for Humanity, were ready to exchange their efforts with other young professionals before Wall Spitzer’s speech this morning.
Both members of Syracuse’s 40-Below chapter, Brandt has chaired fundraising efforts for the organization and Clark has chaired the organization’s public arts committee.
The public arts committee, for example, has created a public arts park on Fayette Street in Syracuse near Geddes Street and shown urban art on downtown buildings.
They believe their efforts through 40 Below, a group for young professionals, may help retain and attract young professionals to the Syracuse area.
“That was really important for me … feeling part of a community,” Clark said of 40 Below.
Wall Spitzer’s speech this morning was followed by brief speeches by young professionals who have chosen to stay in upstate New York and presentations and workshops about how to make upstate New York attractive for young people.



Car drives through front of auto parts store

Staff Reporter

SOUTH CORTLAND — A car drove through the front side of Advance Auto Parts on Route 13 just before 9 a.m. today. No one was hurt.
Lester Banks, 81, of 2942 Route 11, McGraw, said his boot got stuck. He and a passenger smashed through the store’s front window.
“My boot got caught on the brake and when I tried to pull it out, I hit the gas and we went right through the window,” Banks said.
The passenger, Jean Fish, 63, of 3350 Route 11, McGraw, said Banks was taking her to the store to get parts for her car.
“We didn’t intend to drive in,” she said.
The Cortland County Sheriff’s Department said no tickets are being issued and there was minimal damage to the 1985 Pontiac.
The vehicle was towed to Morey’s Towing and Recovery on Grant Street in Cortland.
Store Manager Jon Fish said Advance Auto Parts would be closed for at least four to six hours while the damage is cleaned up.
“It moved the first three isles back 10 feet,” said Pam Lattin, a 25-year-old employee who took cover when the car came through the window.
“I heard the acceleration but there’s always people doing that. It sounded like a shotgun going off. It was loud. I could not believe it.”
Police estimated at least $20,000 worth of damage to the store.
There were no other customers in the store at the time of the accident.



Cortland showcases art, music 

Downtown abuzz with activity in advance of ‘I Live NY Summit’ at SUNY Cortland today.

Staff Reporter

The lineup of music and artists Monday night, in advance of a statewide conference in the city, attracted a crowd. Cars lined Main Street and people congregated around the outdoor music venues.
But the crowd was mostly local people out enjoying the evening of entertainment. Some did not even know about Silda Wall Spitzer’s “I Live NY Summit,” which addresses the issue of young people leaving the state.
The celebration Monday was designed to highlight the Cortland area’s offerings.
It was organized by Linda Hartsock, executive director of the Business Development Corporation and Industrial Development Agency, and Lloyd Purdy, executive director of the Cortland Downtown Partnership.
Mayor Tom Gallagher was visiting the gallery at the Beard Building. “You know the community is behind it when the stores are open Monday night,” he said of the entertainment and shopping.
Alderman Dan Quail, also at the Beard gallery, said the event was an “innovative way to show what Cortland has to offer.”
Denise and Chris Hotchkiss of Cortland came for the music and were also looking at the artwork.
Denise Hotchkiss said it was a nice night to come out.
Ed Marion, a lawyer and an artist, did come out because of the conference.
The Ithaca resident said he has driven through Cortland to go to Syracuse, but rarely stops. He heard about the summit from the Finger Lakes Entrepreneur Forum and applied to go to the conference.
“I want to get ideas for business development to bring back to Ithaca,” he said.
Marion said he was especially interested in a Chicago artist, Jay Goltz, founder and chief executive officer of The Goltz Group, the largest picture framing company in the United States, and in a Binghamton artist, Anthony Brunelli, a photorealist and owner of Brunelli Fine Arts.
Both artists are speaking at the conference today.
Marion was looking at the woodwork of Devon MacRae of Cincinnatus at the Cortland Picture Frame Shop.
Over at the Pocket Park next to the Community Restaurant, Dominic Fisher of Ithaca and Tom Bronzetti of Syracuse were playing jazz music while local artists showed their paintings.
Bronzetti played solo guitar at the Pocket Park a few weeks ago.
He said he did not know anything about the summit today. Fisher said he had just heard about the summit Monday.




County to review Lowe’s proposal Wednesday

111,200-square-foot store would be built on site of existing Wal-Mart on Route 13

Staff Reporter

A proposal to build a Lowe’s Home Center on Route 13 will go before the county Planning Board on Wednesday.
The existing 91,000-square foot Wal-Mart store on Route 13 will be demolished to make way for an 111,196-square-foot Lowe’s store, with an attached 27,720-square-foot garden center.
On-site parking on the 14.1-acre parcel would be reduced from the current 656 spots to 424 spots.
In his initial review of the project, county Planning Department Director Dan Dineen pointed out that the reduction should not present a problem because a Lowe’s Home Center should have less foot traffic than a Wal-Mart.
However, the proposal would see an increase in the lot coverage for the site, from the existing 64 percent lot coverage by impervious material to about 73 percent impervious surface lot coverage.
While there are currently no set lot coverage requirements in place in the area, the town has been working on amendments to its code and zoning ordinances that would enact a 50 percent maximum lot coverage requirement in wellhead protection zone in which the store would be located.
Under the new proposal, any increase in impervious surface of a site that already exceeds the maximum lot coverage requirements would be required to increase the green space elsewhere on the lot in an amount equal to half of the proposed increase.
Current town law leaves the allowable lot coverage on the parcel that is zoned business district to the discretion of the Planning Board.
While studying the existing drainage system for the site, Lowe’s could not determine how far the system extends off the site. Dineen recommended the full extent of the system be researched in preparation for the new stormwater management plan.
He also recommended that Lowe’s provide a more detailed stormwater pollution prevention plan and operation and maintenance plan to ensure that it meets state requirements.
On-site snow storage areas also needed to be specifically designated, Dineen recommended.



County hopeful GrazeNY money to be restored

Staff Reporter

After a one-year hiatus, key funding aimed at revitalizing dairy farms may be returned to the federal budget.
A $594,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture allocation for the GrazeNY program, which funds outreach and education to farms over rotational grazing for livestock, is included in the 2008 agricultural appropriation passed by the House of Representatives this summer, the office of Rep. Mike Arcuri (D-Utica) confirmed Monday.
The appropriation has not yet passed the Senate.
The GrazeNY funding had been removed from the budget for the 2007 fiscal year after the new Democratic-controlled Congress rolled back all earmarks with the intent of renegotiating them for 2008.
Amanda Barber, who manages the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, had lobbied Arcuri to return the funding, and said she was pleased that it had been restored.
“My understanding is it’s in the budget but it hasn’t been approved yet,” Barber said. “If it gets approved, it would be coming through, and that would definitely be a good thing for us.”
Barber was not sure at this point how much would be allocated to Cortland County.
In the past, SWCD received $30,000, which essentially funded one position that could be devoted to setting up grazing systems on local farms.