Corruption Charges Against Developers Call Inner Harbor Plans into Question

Sep 23, 2016

Development of Syracuse's Inner Harbor is called into question after bribery charges.

Some Onondaga County lawmakers are raising questions about the 350 (M) million dollar development of the inner harbor after bribery and corruption charges were leveled against the developers.  Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi were charged with bribing state officials for preference on state contracts and projects.  Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon notes that’s the same company that’s developing the Inner Harbor.

“You’re talking about two executives at the company; you’re not talking about the company or all of its other employees. But I think-look at the inner harbor deal as a good deal. The city of Syracuse picked that developer for a plan and I don’t know what will happen now, how this impacts the future development there. Obviously we want to see that development done in one fashion or another.”  

Legislator Kathy Rapp shares the concern that the corruption charges could impact the critical project.  But she notes the county itself is not implicated even though COR projects implicated in the bribery charges are here.

“The county is not in the business of giving money to developers as they come in. Our only role is through ocida where they’ll come before us and ask for pilots or tax abatements. Different. All the projects that are spoken about are in Onondaga County but not necessarily approved by the county.”

Meanwhile McMahon points out the charges could affect others, besides those accused.

“For all parties, the community, for the families of those impacted, clearly there’s troubling allegations and I hope they are not true but if they are, it is what it is.”

McMahon further wonders if the legal investigations and trials will interrupt development that’s already started.  The County’s development agency, OCIDA, tells WAER none of the charges are directly related to any county project.