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Second Public Hearing on Former Parker School Brings Continued Concerns – City Mulls Another Request For Proposals on Property

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Before the Cortland Common Council meeting began last night, another public hearing took place on the future of the former Parker Elementary School in the City of Cortland.

Just like the last public hearing, multiple residents came and spoke of their concerns regarding the proposed project that was submitted by the Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS).

In the crowded room, concerns were brought up again of the changing of the neighborhood this project would bring, and the worry of it also bringing crime with the type of housing.

A question that was brought up to the Council was in regards to the property being located in a flood zone. A resident voiced her concerns of how the project could even go through with the minor expansion and added asphalt parking lot. She brought up her own issues living in the flood zone when she couldn’t get a variance herself for expanding a small driveway.

Only two out of the nearly twenty people who spoke voiced their support for the project. The two supporters said the city is in desperate need of affordable housing, times do change and progress needs to be met, and the city has worked to implement requirements neighbors have asked for including: tree lines, and fencing.

After the Common Council finished with their agenda items, the council along with the mayor discussed further on the former school, taking into consideration the concerns that have been raised twice by residents.

Cortland Mayor Scott Steve said the city could draft a resolution, which would include multiple requirements for INHS such as replacing the playground, not allowing additional blacktop, limit the number of actual apartments, and so on.

Councilmember Beckwith asked if it is possible for the City to send out another requests for proposals for the former school, something a majority of the council agreed was a good idea.

Additionally, Councilmember Thompson brought up the Crescent Commons and how the development of the building was not all of one specific use, but multiple. Crescent Commons hosts apartments, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and more.

“A lot of the research that I’ve done really centers on the multi-use being the most beneficial for neighborhoods and communities vs. solely just housing.” Councilmember Thompson said.

The City of Cortland’s Council, AJ Meldrim was tied up with other litigation and was unable to attend the meeting to provide the council additional information regarding a Request for Proposals idea.

Mayor Steve was open to the idea of setting up a new timeline and giving it back to the Parker School Committee’s hands to work towards finding more options. Councilmember Lane also mentioned that the committee will work on increasing its input, especially with the neighbors to the project. The mayor looks to have the committee meet this month and connect with residents who spoke at last night’s meeting.

Time will eventually tell when the future of the former Parker School becomes certain.

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