Courthouse steps project slated for completion next year

The current look of the steps at the Cortland County courthouse. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

A project manager for the Cortland County Courthouse revitalization project told legislators Tuesday the project that would revitalize the building’s historical steps is expected to be completed in the spring.

Work on the courthouse is up for bid, said Dennis Spina, a founder of Syracuse-based architecture and planning firm Bell and Spina. Spina, who addressed legislators on the state of the project at Tuesday’s Buildings and Grounds committee meeting, added that bids are expected by Aug. 30.

“The walkthrough with the contractors is scheduled for next Tuesday,” he said. “We contacted several masons already and they have expressed interest even though everyone is busy.” 

The $1.5 million project to renovate the courthouse steps will partially be funded by at least $1 million coming from Cortland County’s American Rescue Plan allocation. The federal government allocated $9.2 million for economic recovery projects. 

“We have separate bids for general construction, dealing with concrete and the granite steps, as well as other heating and electrical contracts,” Spina said. “We are also restoring the lights that are at the courthouse.”

County Legislator Ronald VanDee (D-LD4) asked Spina at the meeting if the current steps could somehow be salvaged in an effort to cut costs on the restoration project.

“We looked at saving the steps, but they are all very rough on the bottom. Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion that we (needed new steps),” Spina said in response.

Part of the revitalization project will also include heating for the steps, which Spina said will help with maintenance and eliminate the need for salting the steps. Spina added Syracuse University has worked on a similar project for the steps to one of their larger buildings and the move has helped them cut costs on maintenance. 

Spina said he doesn’t anticipate any problems with materials.

“Do you foresee any problems with getting any of the components for the new design? Are these components available?,” Legislator Paul Heider (R-LD16) asked during the meeting.

Spina said the door to the courthouse may be the component that takes the longest to bring into the fold. The company plans to use a door made out of fiber reinforced polymer door, which is manufactured using a unique pressure molding technique. This produces a completely smooth, void-free finish to the door, according to the website for global door manufacturing company Dortek.