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Early Voice for Community Grid "Overjoyed" About State's Recommendation to Eliminate I-81 Viaduct

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One of the first city leaders to call for the I-81 viaduct to come down is excited that the state has finally made a recommendation to replace it.

"I was very much overjoyed that the community grid had been the chosen option.  Although that does not mean that's the end of the story."

Nearly 20 years ago, long before the current debate began, former Common Councilor and President Van Robinson asked for a replacement for the viaduct saying it hinders growth and divides the community.  Now, he says everyone needs to compromise.

"We have not yet sat down and said forget the city borderlines.  Forget the county and town borderlines.  How do we make this the best for all of us.  That means there's going to be a little give, a little take on everyone's behalf."

Many are worried the elimination of a high speed route through the city’s core would hurt businesses like Destiny USA.  But Robinson believes the mall is strong enough to survive the changes.

"I think they are business people who would assure that the products they sell and what they offer to the public would be attractive enough so that you wouldn't have difficulty."

Robinson hopes that the grid will make the city more livable for everyone.  He notes that Oakland, California added green space, more schools, and affordable housing after switching to a community grid.

"In fact, in that neighborhood, 25, 30 percent of the people who came back once they rebuilt the homes had to come from that community.  They call it mixed income dwellings."  

Syracuse city leaders and developers have already expressed a similar desire for what might be built around a new boulevard that would essentially follow Almond Street.  The state is at least a year away from making its final decision.