County Committee Finalizes Recommendations on Projects Seeking ARP Funding

Cortland County office building. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/Cortland Voice)

The Cortland County’s Federal Aid Allocation Citizen’s Advisory Committee, created earlier this year to hear proposals from local organizations and businesses requesting federal funds from the $9.2 million appropriated to the county through the American Rescue Plan, voted on a shortlist of 16 approved proposals on Tuesday.

The committee’s recommendations will make their way to the Legislature’s Finance and Administration committee on Nov. 9, and later to the county legislature’s meeting on Nov. 18 for final approval.

Of the 16 requests sent forth, the town of Cincinnatus’ request for funding to institute a sidewalk remediation program was the only proposal not unanimously approved by the committee. Cincinnatus’ request was approved via a 6-2 vote. 

Legislators Susan Wilson (D-LD 6) and Christopher Newell (R-LD 11) voted against said request. The proposals totaled $1,779,704. Fourteen of said proposals, totaling approximately $1.4 million, come from an allocation of $1.5 million delineated by county administrator Rob Corpora.

The following is a list of the proposals voted on by the committee, as well as the funding the committee is considering on allocating and a brief description of the project:

Cortland Business Development Corporation and Industrial Development Agency

  • Initial request: $500,000.
  • Total award proposed: $300,000.
  • Proposal: Instituting three different programs to help businesses recover from economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cortland Community Early Learning Center (CCELC)

  • Initial request: $500,000.
  • Total award proposed: $200,000.
  • Proposal: The CCELC, a childcare center that combines the early education programs offered proposed by the YWCA and Cortland County Community Action Program (CAPCO) under one roof at the former Parker School Site, seeks half a million dollars to fund construction manager and project manager positions as well as air conditioning for classrooms. The committee decided on voting toward allocating $200,000 toward the construction and project manager positions at $100,000 a piece.

Catholic Charities Pathway to Re-Entry Program

  • Initial request and proposed award: $150,000.
  • Proposal: The organization requested funding to cover service and staffing costs on their program meant to help provide better, more stable footing for individuals being released from local correctional facilities. Through the program, Catholic Charities has helped more than 50 individuals, directing them to medical and counseling services and other resources.

Homer Center for the Arts Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Sanitation (HVAC) and Brick Facade Project

  • Initial request: $150,000.
  • Total award proposed: $100,000.
  • Proposal: The center for the arts requested funding to improve the HVAC infrastructure in the building, as well as funding to go toward the renovation of the structure’s brick facade. Members of the committee said the $100,000 awarded will only cover the HVAC renovations.

Cortland County’s Workforce Development Board Program 

  • Initial request: $130,000
  • Total award proposed: $100,000
  • Proposal: The board is seeking funding to market their services, as well improve and provide training for employees on new technological advances in the world of job seeking. The funding would also go toward purchasing computers and Wi-Fi hotspots for potential job seekers to use.

Cortland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)  

  • Initial and proposed award: $97,432
  • Proposal: Emily Roberts, the SPCA’s shelter operations manager, noted the organization’s shelter is in “dire” need of repairs and overhauls. The proposal for funding includes plans to repair and replace the roof, insulate and replace kennels, implement a new drainage system, and create a handicap accessible entrance and restroom for visitors.

Lime Hollow Nature Center Weather-safe Expansion

  • Initial request: $127,200.
  • Total award proposed: $95,000.
  • Proposal: The nature center is proposing to build a weather-safe space and a classroom for Onondaga, Cortland, Madison BOCES educational programming that will be in use for 50-52 weeks out of the year. This space would start construction in the fall of next year.

Grace and Holy Spirit Church Generator Project 

  • Initial request: $118,000
  • Total award proposed: $98,000 (Grace and Holy Spirit Church modified their request)
  • Proposal: The Grace and Holy Spirit Church is seeking funds to further provide heating and shelter for those in need. Funding requested from the committee will go toward purchasing a generator that will allow for heating to continue, even through inclement weather and power shortages.

J.M. McDonald Sports Complex Ice Rink Upgrades and Front Doors Repair

  • Initial request: $77,000
  • Total award proposed: $56,000
  • Proposal: The athletics-focused non-profit requested funds in order to expand and transform their facilities. The fund awards proposed by the legislature would go toward providing more accessibility options via the front entrance through buttons that can operate the doors. The other upgrade would be a replacement of the control system that operates the ice rink. Overhauling the ice compressor would help keep the rink in optimal icy condition.

Town of Cincinnatus Sidewalk Renovation

  • Initial request: $200,000
  • Total award proposed: $50,000.
  • Proposal: The town would hire local contractors, who have faced financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic to fix existing sidewalks in disrepair or build new sidewalks in some instances. The town seeks to remediate and create 7,000 yards of sidewalk in total.

County of Cortland Agriculture Corporation Fairground Project

  • Initial request and proposed award: $50,000.
  • Proposal: The agriculture corporation proposed a multitude of upgrades to the fairground facilities, water and electric lines, as well as lighting improvements and security equipment overhauls.

Rose Hall Renovation Project 

  • Initial request: $375,000.
  • Total award proposed: $50,000
  • Proposal: Venue managers requested funding from the federal allocation to renovate the converted church and turn it into a renowned venue at the regional level. Some of the funding would go toward elevator repairs, and overhauls to the stage and the venue. County Legislature Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-LD2) said the $50,000 would go toward renovating the stage and the venue’s seating.

Cortland County Holstein Club Wash Rack and Show Arena Resurfacing

  • Initial request and proposed award: $36,000 
  • Proposal: The Holstein Club proposed an overhaul to their wash rack, as well as a project that would help resurface their show arena. According to Holstein Club president Matthew Sharpe, the upgrades to the arena would continue to attract regional visitors and provide further economic development opportunities.

Central New York Living History Center Expansion  

  • Initial request: $20,000
  • Total award proposed: $20,000 
  • Proposal: The CNY Living History Center sought funding to transform their community space known as “The Carport” by providing secure space for additional programming and fundraising activities. Currently, there is no way to secure the area from weather or theft. The proposed project would change that. Cortland County Legislature Chair Paul Heider (R-LD 16) said the $20,000 in funding would go toward the center’s preliminary work to scope out the rest of the project, which includes design costs, code research, and engineering and architectural fees.
  • Corpora also set aside $500,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to cover infrastructure projects related to water, sewer, broadband internet, and economic development. The committee voted to propose an allocation of at least $385,272 in federal funds for the following two projects. 

Stream Corridor Management Project

  • Initial request: $600,000
    Total award proposed: $300,000.
  • Proposal: Officials from the Soil and Water Conservation Department would head this project alongside the County Highway Department. It is in order to prevent erosion of stream corridors on county waterways, prevent property losses, and protect infrastructure. The program would also help restore aquatic habitat and improve water quality. Several legislators spoke to the need for a program like this one, referencing the flooding recently seen in some areas of the county due to increased rainfall. Heider said $300,000 would cover the cost of materials such as rock riprap, which is used to protect streambanks and prevent erosion. SWCD officials estimated the budget for two years of this program would cost approximately $600,000.

Village of McGraw Sewer Stations Updates

  • Initial requested and award proposed: $85,272 
  • Proposal: The village proposed funding to update three of its four wastewater stations along the streets of Port Watson, Bennett, and Parkville. The sewage stations are more than 40-years-old and, if not treated, village officials said could cause health issues for residents. 

 

Harbin thanked members of the committee for coming together to vote on the proposals. 

“I appreciate everyone’s hard work on this. We had a lot of great recommendations. We heard a lot of need in the community,” he said. “We worked really well as a committee to get through these. I would have loved to see some other proposals go through, but maybe in the future when we get through some of these projects. This was really worthwhile and valuable.” 

Republican legislator Kevin Fitch (R-LD 8) asked what would happen if the county did not disburse all $2 million it had originally planned to distribute for proposals submitted.

“We have so much infrastructure in Cortland County. We could use all of this money for that,” Heider said. “(Corpora) came up with a proposal to use some of it for us, and if we end up needing less (funding) for a project proposed, we could use it to fix infrastructure we have been lacking here for years.”

Legislature Clerk Savannah Hempstead told The Cortland Voice on Wednesday the county has time to allocate these funds. 

“There are still a lot of American Rescue Plan funds that haven’t been allocated. We are not in a rush to allocate them at the moment,” she said. Hempstead added that there is still uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic and other expenses that could arise from that. “We have a couple of years to allocate these funds and we don’t want to be too haphazard with that.”

Hempstead also noted the county has a lot of other infrastructural needs that could receive federal funding.