By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — Local attorney Steve Snyder came before the Syracuse Town Council during its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 21, on behalf of his client Ridgestone Development Group.
Ridgestone Development Group is the entity that will be developing the old Syracuse Elementary School into apartments.
Snyder requested the council consider residential tax abatement. He explained this type of abatement is limited and not one the town has done before. After explaining the abatement can be awarded if the town declares the area around the school an economic development target area and because the school is essentially abandoned.
The tax abatement will assist Ridgestone in doing the necessary renovations to the building which are expected to be extensive. The abatement would be for 10 years. The council approved a declaratory resolution during the meeting. Next month Snyder will bring a confirmatory resolution to the council and a public hearing will be held.
“This is an opportunity that comes along once in a councilman’s career,” Snyder said.
The council held a first reading and public hearing for the 2022 budget. The budget estimate is $4,653,874.
The council approved a number of ordinances including an emergency transfer of appropriations, moving $15,000 from sidewalks and $5,000 from trees to professional services; approving a stop sign be installed at the corner of Boston and 1st Streets; and amending the salary ordinance to separate the positions of town manager and public works superintendent and provide salaries for each position.
Jeremy Hardy of Commonwealth Engineering, the town’s engineering firm, provided an update on several projects. Work on Main and Brooklyn Streets, soon to be called Polywood Way, is commencing after working through some obstacles such as the relocation of utilities. The project is still on schedule to be finished later this fall if the weather holds.
A conceptional design work is still underway for Harkless Road. Hardy wants to have the design and budget ready to apply for the next round of Community Crossings Grants.
The council approved a $40,531 for a lift station repair from American Pump Repair. Hardy said it will take four to six months for the work to be done.
The council approved a change order for $253,856.75 an increase of $14,698.75 for paving and water main extension at the Syracuse Technology Park. The council also approved $10,000 amendment to extend its agreement with Commonwealth Engineering.
Hardy then turned the discussion to a traffic light being installed at the entrance of Syracuse Elementary School. After discussions with Mark Aurich, public work superintendent, Dave Wilkinson and the school principal, a temporay 4-way stop sign will be installed to see how it impacts school and county traffic.
Councilman Tom Hoover, who requested the traffic light, asked if someone will monitor the effectiveness of the stop sign and said he wasn’t convinced that was the solution.
“We haven’t got any cooperation from our local representatives and local senator,” Hoover said. “I’ve contacted them and I haven’t heard diddly squat. I want it explained to me why it costs $300,000 to put in a stop light.”
Wilkinson requested approval to pay $51,355.40 to Travel Star as part of a purchase grant. Council President Larry Siegel explained half the grant is paid for when the foundation of the building is laid with the second half paid when the company receives its occupancy permit. The council approved paying the grant.
Police Chief Jim Layne requested someone replace Hoover on the police commissioner’s board since this was his last meeting as a councilman. Councilman Paul Stoetling volunteered to take his spot.
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, reported the Farmers Market is over for the season, but the Harvest Festival will be held Saturday, Oct. 9, with the Indoor Garage Sale held the weekend of Oct. 16.
Work is progressing at the new ball fields. The parking lot has been leveled and the light bases have been installed. “A lot of dirt has been moved,” Jonsson said. Construction of the building should start mid-October.
Planning for the Haunted Thrill at Crosson Mill is underway.
In the public works report Aurich was asked about the Scada system for the water plant. He told the council he has spoken to Middlebury Electric which has worked with the town previously. Once it finishes some other project for other clients, it will start with the most critical lift stations in town getting them on the Scada system.
Aurich also requested approval to spend $11,476 to stripe 17,950 feet of street in the town. The work will be done before cold weather hits. The town approved the expenditure.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott reminded the council local hospitals are on diversion, due to a lack of beds, staffing shortages and an increase of Covid patients. The situation is beyond the fire department’s control. They will take patients where there is availablilty.
Cindy Kaiser was introduced as the new town council member. She will be replacing Hoover who is stepping down since he moved out of the town limits.
As the meeting ended, Hoover said he had a few words to say; “I just wanted to thank everyone. It’s really been a pleasure to work with and for the people of Syracuse. I was one of those guys who complained a lot. I figured I’d see Kathy Beer (former councilwoman) she asked me a number of times about taking her place.
“Anyway I’ll be around to see that stop light.”