A Park in Brewerton has $500K in Federal Funds on Hold 11 Years Later

Jul 22, 2015

Just before the foot of the bridge on US Route 11 North that crosses over the New York State Canal in Brewerton where drivers are about to leave Onondaga County and magically cross over into Oswego County on the other side is a park you might miss the entrance to. That’s because there is no official entrance.

A view from Riverfront Park in Brewerton of the NYS Canal System which connects to Oneida Lake.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

The access road is hidden behind some properties off Bennett Street. It kind of feels like you might be wrongly entering someone’s back yard. But, a little further after the parking for tenants only signs, there is a spacious park with docking for boats.  Onondaga County Legislator Tim Burtis secured $45,000 for new entrance improvements with curbing, sidewalks and ADA compliant ramps.

Onondaga County Legislator Tim Burtis speaks about a $45K grant the county he secured for park improvements.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

“It’s my hope that the Town of Cicero can continue on with the program we’ve been working on for years here… and trying to develop this area so that we could take advantage of those folks that would come to be on the lake or that might come up the canal system on the river… and we might be able to assist the business folks here in Brewerton. The hope would be that they would dock here, they would come into our village and they would spend some time here with us.”

Burtis says during a previous grand opening at the park he spoke to a couple who docked their boat and decided to spend an overnite stay in Brewerton. The project is now entering its final phase with $500,000 in federal funds still left. Cicero Town Supervisor Jessica Zambrano, on top of that, the State Parks Department has awarded the project $550,000 dollars for an entertainment pavilion.

“The bigger the Pavilion, the higher the cost, right? Dollars shrink over the years. We started out with envisioning a huge pavilion but, now we’re thinking in terms of more modest. So, we’ll just have to see when we get there.”

A view of Riverfront Park.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

Since 2004, Brewerton Revitalization Chair Helen Carroll has been getting the word out to the public about the waterfront project. Her team sold naming rights to benches at Riverfront Park for $1,000. Now, it’s a matter of keeping the word of mouth going after years of delays. She says across the canal in Oswego County another park has also taken shape.

"It's used everyday, just like this one. And when that happens, more people come to it. And (when) we get the streetscape, I mean, this is definitely the gateway."

Before the town can acquire two properties that are nearby the park, an archeological dig will take place beginning next week to make sure there are no Indian remains. The Cicero Town Board is voting on whether to accept the funding from the County for the entrance improvements. The money would be used to install 170 linear feet of sidewalks and a permeable pavement strip between the sidewalk and curbing, more lighting and trees.

A new pier on the Oswego County side of the canal in front of the Waterfront Restaurant is being built. This project has nothing to do with project funding for Riverfront Park in Onondaga County.
Credit John Smith/WAER News