The Cicero CanTeen won’t be getting a new home any time soon.
The town of Salina had hoped to help the teen center move from its current location at 8837 Brewerton Road, Brewerton, a run-down site where CanTeen staffers have to pump the septic tank themselves, to a new building near the Cicero-North Syracuse Junior High School. Salina Supervisor Charles Iavarone, himself a C-NS graduate and occasional participant in CanTeen activities in his high school days, had discovered a grant that would accomplish that purpose. The grant would require a 10 percent match from the municipalities involved and allowed applicants to ask for up to $800,000, meaning that the five municipalities involved would only need to come up with a total of $80,000.
Iavarone asked the Salina Town Board to approve his applying for the grant at the board’s Oct. 10 meeting. In order to apply for the grant, the deadline for which was Oct. 23, Iavarone would need permission from the other four municipalities involved in running the CanTeen: the towns of Clay and Cicero, the village of North Syracuse and the Cicero-North Syracuse Central School District. The village and the school district were eager to help. Iavarone, Third Ward Councilor Mike Giarusso and CanTeen staffers approached the towns of Clay and Cicero to ask for their support.
However, both towns were reluctant to give that support. The town of Clay asserted that it needed more time to consider the potential ramifications of ownership of a new building and the long-term financial impact of the grant proposal.
“The board had long-range financial planning questions that needed to be addressed,” said Clay Supervisor Mark Rupprecht. “The grant had no long-term plan for the ownership and operation of the building. The town of Clay was not going to make that kind of decision in one week.”
Rupprecht was quick to point out that the town board’s decision had nothing to do with its support for the teen center.
“The town of Clay is an initial and continuing financial sponsor in the Cicero Youth Bureau and the CanTeen,” he said. “We’ve increased our support this year by 20 percent, and we expect to continue to be a financial supporter of the program.”
The board’s decision not to take action on the grant proposal, Rupprecht said, was made in the interest of fiscal prudence.
“It’s better to plan than to react,” he said.
Though Cicero Supervisor Chet Dudzinski did not return calls to the Liverpool Review, it appears that Cicero’s reasons for not approving application for the grant are similar to Clay’s.
“Cicero was very leery of it,” said Salina Second Ward Councilor David Stott. “They weren’t comfortable with it and compared it to the Cicero Commons project.”
Better luck next time?
Salina officials were thoroughly disappointed in their fellow town board members for their failure to act on the proposal.
“I think it’s awful,” Iavarone said. “We had a good proposal. We spent a lot of time and money getting ready to present it. I was going to drive to Albany myself and drop it off.”
Stott went a step further.
“It really turns my stomach,” he said. “They didn’t do their job, plain and simple. They said they needed more information, but no one asked any questions.”
Stott pointed out that this was not the first time that the area faced a last-minute decision on a grant proposal. His father Ron was the mayor of the village of North Syracuse in 1970, when a HUD grant became available to construct senior housing at what is now Centerville Court.
“North Syracuse was the last to apply,” Stott said. “They made a quick decision and they did it. My father drove to New York City to make sure the grant was signed. But that didn’t happen here. [Clay and Cicero] had no sense of urgency whatsoever. We took every excuse out of the hands of the two towns and they did not jump on board. Government needs to work for the people.”
But all hope is not lost. Iavarone said that the grant could become available again next year and agreed with Rupprecht that the executives from all five municipalities should meet in the near future to discuss what will happen to the teen center.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.