Urban CNY: Today's neighborhoods tomorrow

Well over a decade ago the city of Syracuse was using the same series of councils that were in place in the late 1980s many of the same neighborhood advisors had been in place for years with no measurable input from residents.

The federal government mandated changes that included better methods of citizen involvement. I remember when the city of Syracuse looked to our friends in Rochester for a better method of achieving public participation in planning and development of our city.

With great fanfare the program was announced, however it was not the same program Rochester had mastered. Instead of small intimate sectors that had control of budgets and decision making Syracuse's incarnation became our TNT, Tomorrow's Neighborhoods Today.

Syracuse's real estate carved into large sectors, hardly the manageable chunks of a city envisioned from the Rochester model.

Having worked inside government at various levels I've learned that you and I, the average citizens have very little power when it comes down to what happens in our community.

Start approaching your Syracuse Common Councilor or any elected official about your neighborhood, the vacant houses, snow removal, violence and you'll see the person do Michael Jackson's Moon Walk to get away.

Post-Standard columnist, the late Bob Haggert once called the Syracuse Common Council the "world's most deliberative body," I'd like to see the "Street Fighter," "Social Justice Warrior Queen," "Ren & Stempy," "Old Man River" and "Floy-Joy" do something to save what's left of our neighborhoods. Our community development policies are scattershot at best.

If it weren't for WCNY, Syracuse University and the private sector, the near Westside would continue to be one of the poorest census tracts in America. Where has all the money gone that's supposed to go to "our precious neighborhoods?"

I laugh out loud when there's talk of a meeting to discuss what's going on in our neighborhoods because we have very little say over what happens. I have more faith in a fat white man in a red suit coming down my chimney to bring me presents than I do the people who claim to be making our neighborhoods safer and more livable.

Sometimes when you look at efforts to retain those "hotties under 40," along with new condominiums downtown, housing that's supposed to be for low and moderate income people beginning to look like Calcutta slums. It's no longer a question but a statement that our community development policies are planning for Today's Neighborhoods Tomorrow, everyone else has to fend for themselves.

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