Gov. David Patterson finally signed legislation last week to remove Toll Road Park in North Syracuse from the state parks registry, freeing up the land for development into a senior housing complex.
Mayor John Heindorf announced Thursday that the bill, sponsored by Sen. John DeFrancisco in the senate and Assemblyman Al Stirpe in the assembly, had been signed into law, removing the park from the state registry at the village’s request. The village had asked that the park be removed as it was in poor repair and the village didn’t have the money or the manpower to bring it up to par with the other parks in the village.
“I’m very thankful to the governor for signing this, and to Assemblyman Al Stirpe and Sen. John DeFrancisco for sponsoring the bill,” Heindorf said. “I think it will be beneficial to everyone.”
Heindorf and the village trustees wanted to free up the land for development. Shortly after the request was made to remove the land from the registry, Two Plus Four Construction Company approached the village with a $9 million proposal for a 60-unit senior housing complex on the site.
The senior housing proposal includes the restoration of some of the historic buildings currently at Toll Road Park, as well as a “walkable” path to local stores, restaurants and other businesses.
Heindorf commended the village housing authority for their assistance with the project, as well as Deputy Mayor and Senior Advocate Diane Browning.
“If one person was the leader of this effort, it was Diane Browning,” Heindorf said.
Browning herself was thrilled that the bill has been signed into law.
“It is fantastic,” Browning said. “With all of the support we’ve had, I can say that the governor has made a lot of seniors and their families happy, he’s made a lot of local businesspeople happy, he’s made a lot of residents happy. This is a win-win situation. I’m delighted.”
The next step for the village is to have the property appraised. Once they know the value of the eight-acre park, they must, according to the legislation, either set aside more park land or put the equivalent monetary value into the village’s remaining eight parks. The board will then begin to seek public input on the senior housing proposal.
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.