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      Cortland wants a new gateway into the city

      T he City of Cortland is trying to show motorists it is more than an exit off Route 81. The city has received applications from 11 companies to propose new designs for a "gateway" into the downtown area.

      Cortland is working closely with Thoma Development Consultants for the design phase of the project. Senior Consultant Rich Cunningham told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that thousands of vehicles get off Route 81 at exit 11 each day, but the vast majority only stop to take advantage of fast food restaurants. Cunningham says the city is trying to encourage them to drive the extra mile into the downtown district to take advantage of the many restaurants and shops that Cortland has to offer.

      Cunningham says the city is looking for ways to create a "gateway" similar to Syracuse's Connective Corridor, which links downtown Syracuse to the Syracuse University campus. He says such a gateway in Cortland would be much more than attractive signs and could also involve an "intermodal" transportation system of sidewalks, bikepaths and roadways.

      After reviewing the qualifications of the 11 companies that have applied for the project, the city will select those which will come up with design plans to consider. He says the city is shelling out up to $30,000 for the design phase. Depending on which plan is accepted, the city would seek grants to help pay for the construction phase.