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Onondaga County Legislature considers plan to address Regional Market challenges

Shoppers pick out produce under a large shed at an open air market.
Scott Willis
Shoppers make their way through one of the sheds at the CNY Regional Market Aug. 3, 2023.

Onondaga County lawmakers are setting up a plan to address the numerous challenges facing the CNY Regional Market Authority. The county is willing to spend up to $4 million toward critical facility and infrastructure improvements. But special projects administrator with the county Megan Costa told a committee of lawmakers Wednesday that the market first has to complete a revitalization strategy.

“First and foremost, focusing on the fiscal management operational aspects of the market authority, everything's on the table," Costa said. "Also included within that would be taking a look at the infrastructure needs the capital plans, the future vision for the market and the like.”

The market has been under increased scrutiny after an audit from the state comptroller revealed poor fiscal management. Lawmakers are considering a $100,000 state grant to complement a quarter million dollars from the county for the revitalization study. Legislature democratic floor leader Chris Ryan asked Costa about the market’s commitment to the process.

If we're going to spend in excess of $200,000 to engage in a study I guess we I'd like to be comfortable in knowing they're going to be willing participants in how we're going to fix this," Ryan said.

"Honestly, they have to because they have no other choice. They don't have any money," Costa responded. "They're running at a deficit and they're looking to us to make these emergency repairs so that they can rent out some of the facilities. And the county executive is not willing to do that until we are in a position where we feel like this money is going to be spent the way it should be.”

Last year, the regional market authority unveiled a $90 million capital improvement plan that aims to address its numerous infrastructure and facility needs. Nearly all of the money would need to come from the state and the county. Costa says the study is the first step in a larger review of the authority's operations and assets.

"Do they need to go in a whole new direction? They're talking about taking one of their wholesale buildings and turning that potentially into a food hall or something like that," Costa said. "The ideas are here, there, and everywhere. So which ideas make the most sense? Which one may give them sustainable revenue options? How does it serve their vendors? How does it serve the public?"

The Ways and Means Committee will also consider the study funding before sending it to the full legislature agenda for a vote June 4th.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at