City of Cortland Common Council voted 8-0 in favor of authorizing the issuance of a general obligation bond worth $25 million to potentially fund the estimated cost of the impending Homer Avenue Gateway Project.
The Homer Avenue Gateway project is a potential future partnership between the city, the town of Cortlandville and the village of Homer to reconstruct and rehabilitate the stretch of Homer Avenue. It would also assist in improving the adjoining water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure within the city, with the city the lead agency on the project.
Cortland mayor Brian Tobin stressed that the approval at Tuesday’s meeting is to “authorize the cost of what (the project) could be,” and that at some point in the future council would “approve what it will actually be.”
Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance, said Cortland officials would have to find funding through mostly “state grant agency services” to cover the bond.
Cook said he can only see the city raising “$10-13 million for this project,” adding the tax base in Cortland “can’t afford the project and bond in full.”
The bond would be potentially seen as an outlet to cover the cost of the stretch from the Homer Avenue/Groton Avenue intersection to the Cortlandville line on Route 11 north of Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.
Cook noted $25 million for the bond “is the dream price.”
“This has all of the bells and whistles,” he said. “It’s the cap of the project.”
Cook mentioned that although finances for the project are “being figured out,” it could be “another eight years” until construction “shovels the first thing of dirt.”
“It takes this long to raise this type of money through requests with the state’s (grant) system,” Cook said.
Cook noted that bond issuances of this magnitude shows the city’s “readiness for when it comes to reviewing grant approvals.”
“The grant process will go a lot smoother with the authorization of bond issuance,” Cook said.
Cook added the bond issuance was originally at $29 million, but decreased to $25 million. He added that when municipalities do “construction projects like this, things drop out.”
For example, Cook said, the Clinton Avenue Gateway Project was originally projected at $26 million.
“At the end of the day we’re spending $18 million on the (Clinton Avenue) project,” he added.
Tobin said the city has been successful “in terms of these major projects,” with the work “helping our residents.”
“With the Clinton Avenue project including a number of grants and loans to cover costs, we’ve been able to correctly manage these costs and not put a huge burden on city taxpayers because we’ve been positioning the city to continually pursue these funding sources,” he added.
Councilperson Katy Silliman (D-2nd Ward), who drives to work through Homer Avenue, said she’s looking forward to the project getting underway.
“I see a lot of activity going on and I’m really happy that the corridor is going to be raised up out of the blight,” she said. “It’s something for the city to be proud of.”