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Syracuse councilors want to zero in on what development is feasible at Inner Harbor

Syracuse Inner Harbor Lake View with some construction on the right.
Syracuse Inner Harbor Lake view with some construction on the right.

Officials with the city of Syracuse want to draw up more specific development plans for the Inner Harbor and lakefront areas. Common Councilors approved $200,000 for an agreement with the New York State Local Waterfront Revitalization program Monday afternoon. Assistant Director for City Planning Owen Kerney said they’re looking to start developing conceptual designs and feasibility studies.

“What are projects that we could further develop with these dollars, if they are awarded, to really enhance the planning work that we’re doing? Thinking about connectivity, thinking about environmental conditions, economic development, and quality of life—as we know there’s a variety of things going on and being considered around that area,” Kerney said.

That includes the county executive’s proposed and controversial aquarium, which neither Kerney nor councilors mentioned specifically at a preliminary meeting last week. Development of the Inner Harbor and lakefront has languished for years despite spotty progress, and the $85 million aquarium is seen as a catalyst for growth. One of the matters complicating the development of the area is the multiple entities who own the property, including city, state, and private parcels. Kerney said it will be a collaborative effort.

“Part of the planning work that we’re doing is bringing those owners together to kind of think collectively about what we need out there and what will help really revitalize that area, draw more people to that area,” Kerney said.

The city will provide a $50,000 match in the form of staff hours.

Meanwhile, the city is taking a small step forward on the massive overhaul of its trash collection system. Councilors also approved the transition to partially automate sanitation trucks that lift and empty special trash bins into the compactor. Jeremy Robinson, the commissioner of the Department of Public Works, said the agency will spend nearly $200,000 in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to purchase $32,000 trash carts for a pilot project.

“We haven't formalized the plans for the pilot yet, so I don’t have the details of that. But the carts take so long to build, so we need to get that process growing,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the carts and pilot program will cover about 10% of the city when it gets underway.