October 12, 2007


Dryden hosting open house for new town hall 

Public gets first view of $3M building at meeting Thursday


Bob Ellis/staff photographer      
Zoning enforcement officer Slater gives a tour of the new courtroom and meeting room in the new Dryden Town Hall. The town is holding an open house for the new building from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Town Board members held their first meeting Thursday night in the new town hall, giving about 40 people in the audience a chance to see the inside of the $3 million facility.
An open house will be held Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the 93 E. Main St. facility.
Town employees have worked out of the buildings since Sept. 24. Both the old and new town hall were closed for business Sept. 20 and 21 when departments were moving to the new facility.
Code officer Henry Slater said the code office is the most settled, in part because there are five full-time employees who work out of the office. He said last week he issued his first building permit from the office for Maple Ridge, a housing development that is being developed across from the new 12,400-square-foot town hall.
The code clerk’s and recreation offices are off the main foyer and entranceway, which feature a cathedral ceiling with a skylight and a large glass display case with historical books and pamphlets.
The main meeting room, which can also be used for court, is in back of the building. The area features recessed lighting and oak woodwork. The town board and judge sit behind a long bench area. There are jury boxes, which during Town Board meetings will be used for town officials, such as the code enforcement officer and attorney.
The room can hold about 200 people, and Slater said the room can be divided by an automated electric door.
There is a separate room that can be used for arraignments and there is a room with a bench where defendants can wait for court proceedings along with a bathroom for those going before the court.
At the old 4,000-square-foot town hall, town meetings had to be interrupted for arraignments, and defendants waited in the hall.
A separate entrance in the back north side of the building has a metal detector and another court-related display area.
There is also an east side entrance near a bathroom and the holding cell where defendants will enter.
The old town hall had two bathrooms, one for men and the other for women. The new town hall has seven bathrooms, including one bathroom with a shower.
There are conference rooms and a separate room for duplicating and copying, which could also be used for small gatherings.
“There is no office area that does not have the ability to have a conference area,” Slater said.
Slater said the heating and cooling system is geothermal, which takes advantage of the heat from the ground below the frostline.
Slater said the town system uses 14 wells and includes seven heat exchangers, which heat or cool water from the starting point of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (its temperature below the frostline) and distribute this water through lines that heat or cool the building, depending on whether heat or air conditioning is needed.
“It’s like a new toy,” Trumbull said of the new facility.
“Everyone has their own space and it’s more comfortable,” he said.
Construction started in September 2006 after Labor Day and was complete by late September this year.  He and Marty Christofferson said the board had looked at several sites and buildings before finding this location.
Trumbull said one day he was driving by and happened to see the “for sale” sign.
“I’m hoping it will last 100 years,” Christofferson said. “We’re real proud of this.”



County considers senior offices move

South Main Street location  eyed for housing the Area Agency on Aging

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — The county is considering constructing a building for its Area Agency on Aging on the two properties it was compelled to buy on south Main Street.
Some officials say the move could create space for the cramped Department of Mental Health and help alleviate a parking shortage at the County Office Building, where the Agency on Aging is now located.
Carol Deloff, director of the Agency on Aging, asked the Human Services Committee Thursday to consider her department as a possible tenant of the recently acquired properties at 157 and 159 Main St.
“With the older population in this community growing, I think it would be great if the center could grow, and we were able to offer more opportunities,” Deloff said. “I’m not saying it would work for sure, but I think it’s worth looking at.”
The Legislature voted in September to purchase the former Moose Lodge and Robbins Vending properties in response to a judge’s ruling that the county breached an original contract to purchase them in January.
The two properties, which including legal fees will cost $576,000, were originally part of an $894,000 deal aimed at placing a public health facility on a total of nine parcels of land along south Main, William and Randall streets. The project included the departments of Health and Mental Health.
Because it opted to purchase only the two commercial properties involved and is seeking to settle with the remaining property owners, the county must to decide whether to come up with a scaled-down project for the site or to sell two properties. The two properties are the former Moose Lodge and the adjacent Robbins Tobacco Co. properties.
Deloff told the committee that the Agency on Aging’s current space is limiting, particularly for its meal delivery service.
The Agency on Aging delivers 500 meals per day to senior centers and to homes, but the process by which it gets the meals out of the County Office Building basement has long been arduous, requiring employees to lift large carts of meals at a number of points between the kitchen and the delivery vehicles, Deloff said.
“It’s an important service and our staff is great, they do what they have to do, but it’s been something we’ve been talking about fixing for years,” Deloff said.
The Agency on Aging occupies nearly 13,000 square feet in the County Office Building. It would cost $1.5 million to $2 million to construct a suitable 14,000-square-foot building on south Main Street, County Administrator Scott Schrader said this morning.



Treasurer faces challenger in bid for 3rd term

Staff Reporter

Incumbent Treasurer Don Ferris said experience in the county position should be what people consider when deciding who to vote for Nov. 6, but his challenger Democrat Patrick O’Mara is questioning that experience pointing to past accounting problems in the Treasurer’s office under Ferris.
Ferris, a Republican, is completing his second four-year term and is running for a third term.
The position currently pays $61,000 a year.
Ferris, 62, of 55 N. Main St., Homer, said managing the county’s nearly $100 million budget is complex and having municipal experience, especially in budgeting, is important to the job.
His background was not financial, he said, but he gained financial experience from having been a Homer village trustee for eight years and a Homer Town Board member for 10 years. Ferris also ran a small printing business with his wife.
O’Mara, 56, of 199 Clinton Ave., Cortland, runs Paddy’s Pub and has been a business owner for 23 years, he said.
O’Mara also has government experience, having served on the Cortland County Legislature for eight years. He ran for a fifth two-year term in 2003 but lost to Kurt Behrenfeld.
O’Mara pointed to past inaccuracies and missed deadlines in the Treasurer’s Office, and the October 2006 hiring of Rick McNeilly for $10,000 to balance accounts in the county as his reason for running.
Ferris said the decision to hire McNeilly, made by the Legislature, was a good idea.
Ferris said McNeilly balanced accounts capital project funds that had not been reconciled for a long time due to a new accounting system and turnover of employees in the Treasurer’s Office, including a new deputy treasurer who started in 2001.
“Our emphasis was in keeping the county going on a day-to-day basis,” he said, noting that the accounting system was not set up correctly at first.
The new accounting system was first used in 2000, the same year Ferris took office for the first time.
Ferris said the deputy treasurer could have done the reconciling but other work would have been neglected and because the work was done, the county was able to get a better bond rating in February on $10 million in bonds, which will save $650,000 over the life of the bonds, which is 20 to 25 years.
O’Mara also pointed out a comptroller’s report and state audits, which criticized the timeliness and accuracy of accounting done in the Treasurer’s Office. The Comptroller report was released after the 2003 election and also said there was a lack of oversight within the department and on the part of the Legislature.




Riverside owner has more time to turn over rents

Judge had placed owner in contempt of court for failing to hand over $13,505.

Staff Reporter

After missing an Aug. 20 deadline to turn over a $13,505 rent check to a court-appointed receiver, the principal owner of Riverside Plaza has another chance to make the payment before facing fines or jail time.
Pasquale Cipolla, president of P. Daniel C. Inc., the company that owns the plaza, has until the end of June to turn over the rent.
Donald Summer, a Bowmansville-based lawyer representing Cipolla, and Anthony Hanley, a Syracuse-based lawyer representing Syracuse-based receiver William Colucci, negotiated the date and a payment schedule in a private discussion Thursday morning.
Afterward, Hanley described the payment schedule at a hearing in front of state Supreme Court Justice Phillip R. Rumsey.
Hanley said Cipolla had agreed to turn over $1,000 by the end of the day, $1,000 by the end of October, $2,000 by the end of November, $2,000 by the end of December and the remaining $7,305 by the end of June.
A July 31 order held Cipolla in contempt of court for not turning over the $13,305 in rent from Penn Traffic Inc., owner of P&C supermarket.
In the event Cipolla defaults on any of the payments, he and Summer will be notified by overnight delivery mail. They will be given 10 days to make the payment.
If they go past the deadline, they will be held in contempt of court a second time. In that case, a fine or jail time is likely.
Hanley said after the hearing he is giving Cipolla extra time to turn over the rent because he feels Cipolla will now turn it over.
He would not say why he believes that, and declined to answer any other questions.
After the hearing, neither Cipolla nor Summer would say why the money was not turned over before Aug. 20.
During the hearing, however, Summer suggested it was because he did not get court orders issued by Rumsey in the mail.
Rumsey read off the address he had for Summer’s second office in Boca Raton, where he spends much of his time.
A “k” in the street name “Mallorka” should have been a “c,” Summer said.
Rumsey noted that change, but said it is hard to believe the incorrect letter kept him from getting the mail.