Oct 09, 2008 Martha E. Conway Uncategorized
Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez paid a visit to Bridgeport yesterday. During a tour of the Route 31 corridor from Brewerton to Sullivan and a stop in East Syracuse, Cortes-Vazquez made a quick stop at the Bridgeport United Methodist Church to review maps of the area and see the proposed town of Sullivan sewer project.
Business owners in the area also turned out to share their thoughts on how the project will affect commerce in the area.
Supervisor John M. Becker (R,C,I — Sullivan) said he was hoping Cortes-Vazquez would absorb what the town is trying to do and carry that message back to the governor’s office.
“We’re hoping she’ll go back and tell the governor, ‘This is what this area needs,'” Becker said.
The Environmental Facilities Corporation has committed zero-percent interest loans for nearly the entire $14 million the project is expected to cost. Becker said that is a tremendous boost toward getting the project done.
“The problem is paying it back,” Becker said, explaining that the town is seeking grants and other aid that does not have to be paid back.
Those extra funding sources would lower the per-unit cost to make sewers affordable to all the residents in the proposed Bridgeport Sewer Initiative District. The budget picture from Albany is grim, though, Becker said.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen there,” Becker said. “They are talking about cutting another 6 percent next week and another 15 percent in April.”
April begins the state’s fiscal year, a factor which negatively impacts the town and county budget cycles, which follow the calendar year. That 15-percent cut would come after local municipalities already were one-third of the way through their budget cycles, forcing cuts down the line.
Becker spread out schematic drawings to show Cortes-Vazquez existing facilities and the different pieces of the project. He said some septic and sewer facilities discharge into the creek, which then drains into the lake.
“Just a little ways up the road here, we’ve got an elementary school on septic,” Becker said. “That’s not a good situation. It’s not good for the lake. We’ve got low-income neighborhoods, low-lying property and some of the worst soils in Madison County. This is the last six miles of Route 31 along the lake that doesn’t have sewers.”
Madison County Industrial Development Agency Director Kipp Hicks said the area is not without prospects.
“The Aldi grocery chain has shown interest,” Hicks said.
According to Hicks, the stretch of Route 31 Becker aims to sewer is key to connecting the population of the Cicero-North Syracuse area to Sullivan and Sylvan Beach at the easternmost end of the lake. He said Brown’s Greens golf course is one example of a business that has made a tremendous capital investment in its facilities, which would only be enhanced by accessibility to sewers.
Lorne Rudy, owner of Fisher Bay Restaurant at the northwestern corner of the town and county, said sewers were key to the execution of a development project near his business, and sewers would allow the building of more units in that development since a raised bed septic system would not be necessary.
“Cicero’s got growth,” Rudy said. “It’s coming. There’s no stopping it, and it will reach here.”
Lori Larroca, who, together with other family members, has proposed a couple of enterprises in the area said Sullivan has great potential.
“But we’re 30 years behind the times,” Larroca said. “We could have so much going on here. Traffic is so heavy through here, and it’s the only way to get from one end of the lake to the other. But they’re just passing through because we have nothing to offer them, to entice them to stop. No one wants to come in without sewers.”
Becker talked about the growth of the community from census to census, and talked about the character of the area.
“Right now we’re a bedroom community for Syracuse,” Becker said. “We’re looking for money to bring the costs of this project down. If we don’t get it, we will put it before the people, but we’re talking $900 to $1,000 per unit a year.”
Cortes-Vazquez agreed that that was too steep a price for residents to pay, especially in light of the other increased costs they are facing with fuel and utility price hikes.
Sen. David J. Valesky, who played tour guide to Cortes-Vazquez, said it is his hope that the project might qualify for Upstate Revitalization Project funds.
Others attending the Bridgeport meeting included Barton & Loguidice engineer Christian Lawton, Councilmen David Miner and John Brzuszkiewicz, Sullivan Comptroller Beth Ellis and Dep. Supervisor William Cole.