The Cicero Town Board voted unanimously to approve the plans for the Brewerton Revitalization Project as presented by engineer Paul Fritz of Environmental Design Standards at the board meeting Wednesday Oct. 15.
The board also approved a SEQRA resolution for the design standards for the project, which Fritz also presented to the board on Wednesday.
The plan outlines the strategy to redesign the hamlet of Brewerton, improving its physical appearance, adding parking and pedestrian-friendly walkways and embracing its history and proximity to the waterfront. It will also “green up” Route 11, Bartel Road and the Route 81 bridge, enhance the streetscapes, encourage mixed-use (retail and residential) buildings and offer standards for development in the hamlet.
Though the plan was approved by the board, Fritz said it’s hardly complete.
“This vision is just a starting point,” he said. “It’s a good starting point, but it will certainly be tweaked as we implement it.”
Many local residents spoke in favor of the plan.
“I’m very supportive of this opportunity we have to improve the appearance of the hamlet and the quality of life for people in Brewerton,” said resident Tom Beaulieu.
Roger Fortune said he purchased and is renovating a building on Route 11 in Brewerton in anticipation of the revitalization.
“I’ve lived in Brewerton for years, and I’m excited about the opportunities this will present,” Fortune said. “I can’t wait for this to become a reality.”
But not everyone was so enthusiastic.
“This plan is vague, developer-friendly and some of the maps are difficult to read,” said Tim Murphy, reading from a letter he presented to the board. “This whole plan is about economic development rather than the quality of life for existing residents.”
Murphy asked several questions of the board, including how parking would be addressed, why business owners get tax breaks while property owners’ taxes will go up and the potential for adverse affects on water quality.
“The sleepy waterfront hamlet of Brewerton had better wake up,” Murphy said. “When this done deal gets approved, this pre-packaged dream could make traffic so bad that people will avoid the area I just don’t trust you [the town board] with your history of poor planning.”
Deborah V. Gardner questioned the funding of the project.
“If we in Cicero want this, we should be willing to pay for it,” Gardner said. “We should not be asking the taxpayers of other communities to pay for it.”
The project will be funded through a state grant from the office of the secretary of state. The grants are going to projects throughout the state that promote economic development, particularly along waterways.
Though the plan has been approved, individual developers will still need to get site plan approval for any projects they propose in the Brewerton area.
To view the plan, visit anewdayinbrewerton.com.
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.