Cortland plan focuses on revitalization and improvements | News, Sports, Jobs


CORTLAND — The city got to work this month, implementing the 2021 Strategic Plan approved by City Council in December.

The plan spells out land use objectives in detail, including city aesthetics, improving parks, and expanding recreation and economic development, among other topics.

Mayor Deidre Petrosky said creating a new strategic plan was something she wanted to do “from the start,” but the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled the process.

“If there’s no plan for the city and a place to take her, then what am I going to do?” Petrosky said. “I think we just remain stagnant as a community.”

The city last created a strategic plan in 2004, and prior to that, a plan was assembled by the Center for Urban Studies at Youngstown State University in 1999.

The 2021 plan began with a strategic planning committee, which met with city department heads, then sent out a survey to residents that garnered more than 650 responses from residents and business owners.

The Strategic Planning Commission also reviewed the physical condition of city facilities to determine what improvements were needed.

LAND USE, ZONING AND SERVICE

Goals include providing additional downtown parking, increasing occupancy of downtown properties, and modernizing zoning regulations.

The plan calls for the city’s rich history to be celebrated with a “recognition program” for historic properties and suggests the creation of historic walking tours and the promotion of history as a business attraction.

The city also wants to establish a consistent look by developing look and color guidelines.

The plan also envisions eliminating overnight parking citywide, suggests that firefighters possibly purchase a third ambulance in the future, and sets education goals on recycling and cleaning cesspools.

PARKS AND RECREATION

As for the Parks Department, the plan calls for a series of improvements at Willow and Pearl Parks, from refurbishing playground equipment to improving lighting and updating installations.

Some long-term goals for Eastlake Metropark, in partnership with Trumbull County MetroParks, are the construction of an ice rink, BMX tracks and an amphitheater, as well as the creation of a storytelling ride. A shorter term goal for the park is to level 10 acres to create festival grounds.

Other recreational opportunities that could be developed under the plan include satellite parks with limited playgrounds and a possible dog park near downtown.

FACILITIES

The facilities study determined that the city administration needed to be relocated to new facilities and the police department needed to adapt the current city hall/police department.

The interior renovation of the existing building is estimated at $620,000. The construction of a new 6,000 square foot building is estimated at $1.4 million.

The current fire station turned out “too small” for operations and that a new facility should be built.

The proposal recommends that the service department adapt and reuse the current fire station building for mechanical space; office, garage and equipment storage; and move the rest of the operation to the area behind the current town hall/police station.

The cost of renovating the fire station for the service department is estimated at $450,000. Construction of a facility behind City Hall is estimated at $750,000 and construction of a new fire hall at $4.2 million.

EXCITING TIME

Petrosky said the city doesn’t have a timeline for implementing the multi-faceted plan, but some projects are already underway. Others will take years to complete, so the plan breaks everything down into short, medium, and long-term goals.

Petrosky said his personal goals for the city are to drive economic development, which includes downtown revitalization, and to provide a good park experience.

“It’s really an exciting time” Petrosky said.

By the numbers

Percentages based on Cortland Strategic Planning survey responses

• 92% support the preservation of historic buildings in Cortland

• 89% support the adoption of exterior appearance guidelines for businesses

• 88% believe demolition of vacant and neglected buildings is important

• 80% think commercial development should be contained within existing commercial areas

• 68% support contracting with a marketing company to attract business

• 48% would like to have bike lanes or bike paths in the city

*658 people completed the survey, but not all of them answered all the questions

SOURCE: Cortland 2021 Strategic Plan



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