By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — After realizing there were no applicants for lifeguards for Lakeside Park, the Syracuse Town Council approved an allocation of $5,000 to entice applications by increasing lifeguards’ pay.
The move was made during council’s meeting Tuesday night, May 17
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, explained the park department offers $12 an hour for lifeguards, based on a $16,000 allocated budget, while Warsaw and Goshen both offer $15 an hour.
He told the council he was not comfortable paying a summer employee more than a full-time park employee, and even when the park department was competitive with Goshen and Warsaw, there were very few lifeguard applicants. He said he will return during budget season with a request to increase park employee salaries across the board.
“I think they’re important,” said Councilman Larry Siegel. “We have to do something to be competitive in the labor market.”
Councilman Paul Stoelting asked how the Syracuse Park Board felt about the matter. Jonsson said there were some discussions about the matter. Siegel said the board has to decide whether or not it wants lifeguards and how to pay for it. He also pointed out last summer people on personal watercraft and boats were driving through the swimming area and landing on the beach. “There were a few cringeworthy moments,” he said.
He believes lifeguards are needed to enforce the rules and keep swimmers safe.
Jonsson also provided an update on the ballpark. All the lights have been installed, work has started on the walking trail and inside work continues on the buildings.
The council approved the street department spending $285,705, from the street department’s paving budget, a Crossroads Community Grant and tax increment dollars, to get some of the worst streets in town paved this summer.
Jeremy Hardy from Commonwealth Engineering provided an update on the Lakeside Drive water loop between Pickwick and Palm Drives and the replacement of the Oakwood Lift Station.
Town Manager Dave Wilkinson reported Hardy had almost completed the surveys of the last properties involved in the voluntary annexation of Kern Road. This includes the Eagles and some properties across the street from the Eagles.
Police Chief Jim Layne reported there is an ordinance for high grass. Anything higher than 9 inches is considered a violation. Once a property is staked for being in violation, the property owner has five days to mow or the town will do it and bill the property owner.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott reported the fire department will offer a free CPR Class at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, at Fire Station 1, 402 N. Huntington St.
Town Attorney Jay Rigdon asked Hardy for confirmation he had paperwork regarding an easement to extend utilities to four lots on Coco Drive. Hardy said he had the paperwork.
Rigdon sought input from the council regarding a property owner on Cable Lane whose property is in serious disrepair. Noting even after the property owner applied for a sewer tap-on permit and a permit to improve his property, nothing has been done.
Council President Bill Musser said he has heard from several Cable Lane residents who are appalled at the condition of the property. Siegel noted the council has been attempting to get the property owner to address the issue for four years.
The council voted to start litigation against the property owner. The vote was 4-1 with Stoelting abstaining, saying he didn’t know enough about the issue.
Councilman Larry Martindale asked who was responsible for finishing the lawns damaged during the widening of Polywood Way. Hardy said he spoke to the landscaper who agreed several areas looked ugly, but urged patience until the grass grew in. Mark Aurich, public works superintendent, agreed to meet with Martindale to see which areas he was concerned about.
Stoelting asked about a burned-out property on Boston Street. Wilkinson said the property had a new owner who planned to raze what remained of the house and build new.