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North Syracuse: Village to become more walkable

Thanks to a Community Development Block Grant, the streets of the village of North Syracuse will be a little safer.

The village board voted last Thursday Feb. 28 to use the grant money for 2008 to add 1,300 lineal feet of sidewalk along Chestnut Street from Tolbert Drive to Heritage Park. The project was discussed a few years ago, but at the time, the village didn't have the money for it.

"It was suggested by a Participation in Government student three years ago," Mayor John Heindorf said. "At the time, we couldn't pay for it. But now we have this grant money."

At a public hearing Thursday, the board asked the public what it should do with the Community Development money it receives this year. Each year, municipalities in the state receive money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for community improvement projects. According to a five-year plan the village had drawn up, all Community Development money through 2009 will go toward improving the central business district and pedestrian accessibility.

Vera DeSimone, former president of the Plank Road Historical Society, asked if the money could be used for improvements at the Toll Road Historical Park on Route 11.

"The museum, at least, needs renovations really bad," DeSimone said. "The other buildings will probably have to come down, but we'd at least like to see the original schoolhouse preserved, and maybe some bathrooms added at that park."

Town Engineer James Trasher said that, because of the village's written five-year plan specifying that money be used for pedestrian and business district improvements, the Toll Road park was not eligible for Community Development money. He said that the village could include the park in future five-year plans so that it could get the necessary repairs in the coming years.

Representatives from the fire department had also asked the village to consider using Community Development money to install fire hydrants at several locations in the village. Again, Trasher said this did not fall under the Community Development program and the village should use money that's already in the budget for the hydrants.

The board voted unanimously to approve the use of the Community Development Grant for the sidewalk extension on Chestnut. Resident Leslie White was pleased with the board's decision.

"I would welcome the sidewalk with open arms," White said. "My father is disabled and he uses a walker. When he walks to the park, he has to walk in the road. I would feel much safer with a sidewalk."

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