By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — With no comment the Syracuse Town Council approved the annexation of Kern Crossing and several additional homes on Kern Road during its regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 23.
The council approved a confirmatory resolution acknowledging Ridgestone Development as an economic development target area. The Ridgestone Development is the old Syracuse Elementary School which is being developed into affordable apartments. Local attorney Steve Snyder explained $3.5 million will be invested in improving the property for residential use.
As an economic development target area, the property will be eligible for a tax abatement. Councilman Bill Musser asked when the project would be ready to start. Snyder said the developers were ready to start with underlaying matters such as getting the necessary permits from the state.
The council rejected a request to vacate an alley in the Strombeck and Weaver’s Second Addition. Snyder noted this alley was platted sometime between 1837 and 1875 although there is no legal description. It is 12 feet of space running between two homes. Snyder explained it cannot be used for pier space or access to the lake.
Both property owners have maintained the sea wall and the grass. After consideration, the council voted unanimously to not vacate the alley.
The council approved the 2021-22 salary ordinance. Also approved was the transfer of appropriations. In the South Benton Tax Increment Finance district $4,510 from infrastructure and $15,000 from capital improvements was moved to professional services for a total of $19,510.
In the rainy day fund, $10,000 was moved from professional services to capital improvement. In the parks department, $10,000 from lifeguards and $2,000 from contract mowing was moved to all repairs for a total of $12,000.
The council approved renaming Brooklyn Street to Polywood Way and renewing the terminal service agreement for an annual fee of $5,000. This agreement is between the Syracuse Police Department and the county.
Jeremy Hardy of Commonwealth Engineering, the town’s engineering firm, reported Main Street is now open and Polywood Way should be open in a few weeks.
Council President Larry Siegel was asked to approve a K21 grant for the ball field.
In the parks report, the council learned about a proposed dog park. The park foundation received a donation for a dog park a year and a half ago. Members of the park board are looking at developing the empty space at Main and Dolan for a dog park since it’s easily accessible in town and in a residential area.
Siegel noted the area is in the River Front District and wondered how a dog park fits into that idea. He said he wanted to see something a bit more comprehensive.
Musser said he liked the idea and he liked the drawing Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, presented. Funding for the park would come from donations and grants while maintenance would be covered by membership fees which would provide dog owners access to the park. Renea Salyer, executive director of the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce, noted local veterinarians are sending their canine clients to the dog park in Warsaw, when they could be sending them to a local park.
Siegel stressed public input is needed for potential use of the space.
The council approved the 2022 wastewater budget.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott reported the Turkey Creek Fire Territory would be hiring an administrative assistant whose office would be in town hall. Scott explained the department needs to have someone on hand when personnel are in training or out on calls.
After hearing the small conference room, which until recently was used as an office would be used for the fire department’s administrative assistant, Siegel complained saying the space used to be used for small meetings. Clerk-treasurer Virginia Cazier disagreed saying the building should be a central location for all departments.
In her report, Cazier noted the town’s health insurance would be increasing by only 6% in 2022 when it was anticipated the increase would be 20%.
The council approved a transfer of funds from the economic development income tax to the EDIT infrastructure budget lines.
It was announced local attorney Jay Rigdon would be replacing Vern Landis in January as town attorney. Landis has decided to slow down a bit as he “starts the slide into retirement.”
Kim Blaha, executive director of the Syracuse Public Library, and an architect working with the library came before the council looking to vacate an alley between the back side of the library and a house it owns behind it. The library is looking to expand its offerings as well as have outdoor space and parking.
Councilman Paul Stoetling asked if library personnel spoke with local store owners regarding whether closing the alley would impact their deliveries. Blaha said few trucks use the alley. The library is looking to be more accessible and the building has some compliance issues inside that need to be addressed.