Tioga County votes to move forward

By Conor Mooney

July 18, 2013 Updated Jul 19, 2013 at 1:00 AM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Tioga County Legislature held a special meeting Thursday to vote on the future of Waverly, vehicle access to Tioga Downs and bringing electric and natural gas vehicles to the county.

First, the legislature voted to apply for funding that would revitalize part of downtown Waverly, specifically the building at 150 Broad St, which houses nine commercial units.

"It'll help with the exterior renovations of the building, there will be a new stone front, a new roof structure," said Tioga Economic Development Specialist Teresa Saraceno.

County officials said they are asking for about $130,000 from the Rural Area Revitalization Projects, which is a state-run housing and community improvement program.

The program would be an additional opportunity to the New York Main Street program, for which the county has already applied.

That program works to revitalize all of downtown Waverly.

County officials will find out exactly how much funding, if any, they will receive by the end of the year.

The legislature also agreed to apply for a state economic development grant to study adding an interchange off Route 17.

That interchange would take traffic directly to Tioga Downs in Nichols.

The racino has plans for a major expansion, including a hotel, events center and parking garage, and is a potential site for a future casino.

Access to Tioga Downs has hit road blocks at times.

"We've closed roads in snow storms," said Kenneth Del Bianco, the commissioner of public works. "Of course, that affects the operations at Tioga Downs, and it's lost revenue for them, and also the state, the county and the town."

The study costs $75,000

If the grant is approved, the county would have to pay a local share of 10 percent, or $7500.

Finally, the county decided to get in the driver's seat on fuel efficiency.

It wants to buy three electric cars and install three charging stations.

The county legislature agreed to apply for a state grant.

If it's awarded, the county's Department of Social Services would use the cars.

They would charge up at the Tioga County Health and Human services building on Route 38.

"We're reducing the amount of gas that's being used, and you have cleaner, quieter vehicles that produce less greenhouse gasses," said Ellen Pratt, the Tioga County materials recovery manager.

The legislature also voted to apply for a grant that would fund three natural gas trucks for the county highway department, as well as a compressed natural gas fueling station.

The county is applying for the grants through the Southern Tier's Regional Economic Development Council.