Hearing held on former school building; city council to mull over next steps (Audio Included)

(Photo provided by Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

After another public hearing was held on Tuesday on the proposed sale and future use of the former Parker school building on Madison Street, the City of Cortland Common Council will mull over its next steps in the coming months.

For the second-straight council meeting, residents came out in numbers to express their concerns about the potential sale of the former school building to Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS). A couple of residents also voiced their support.

Below is a recording of the public hearing at Tuesday’s city council meeting. Close to 20 residents spoke during the hearing:


The lone organization to submit a bid for the former school building, INHS conducted a presentation in June on potentially turning the former school building into quality housing for modest income workers. Housing would also be provided for people with intellectual, developmental and mobility needs.

INHS – a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding housing opportunities for low and moderate-income residents of Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Schuyler, Seneca, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties – is looking to add to 40-to-50 units for for-rent workforce housing that would serve a range of household sizes and income levels.

INHS’s submitted proposal bid to the city can be viewed by clicking here. Details on INHS’s presentation in June is here.

City mayor Scott Steve and council members had a discussion about the former school building towards the end of Tuesday’s meeting.

Below is a recording of the discussion:


Councilperson Troy Beckwith (D-7th Ward) suggested the city send out another request-for-proposal (RFP) on the building. Councilperson Seth Thompson (D-5th Ward) proposed a multi-use development project for the building.

Ultimately, the mayor and council members collectively agreed that the process of development for the building will take some more time. Steve suggested the Parker School Ad Hoc Planning Committee meet soon and include interested residents in the discussion process.

“The finances are important, but the character of our community is more important,” Mayor Steve said, noting he likes the idea of more time to plan the future of the former school building.

Steve noted that, with a timeline put together on what the next steps will be for the building, it is the goal to potentially submit an RFP by September.

The city provides a breakdown on its website of the former school building’s process since Cortland purchased it in December 2021. Frequently asked questions about the building are here.