Last week, St. Matthew's School in East Syracuse was filled with eager people ready to share their ideas and thoughts on West Manlius Street, the business district and its future appeal to residents and visitors alike. The community workshop, held Jan. 29, was the first in a series of four that will ultimately sculpt a new look for East Syracuse's Main Street.
Mayor Dan Liedka and members of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) have been working together since last year to create and implement a revitalization plan.
"If you speak to anybody who is a tenant or has a business on Main Street, their complaint is it costs so much; there's no people; they're almost penalized for being a merchant on Main Street," said East Syracuse resident Tim Powers at the start of the workshop. "East Syracuse is just fallen into disrepair."
Thus, the reason for the project and public interaction.
Village residents divided into seven stations with one SUNY ESF graduate student facilitating each group. The students encouraged residents to brainstorm ideas and engage in constructive dialogue to help the landscape architects get a feel for their values and quality of life concerns. Additionally, people were quizzed with questions ranging from, "Where would you most likely congregate with a group of friends?" to "What represents the distinct character of the East Syracuse Business District?"
Maren King of SUNY ESF emphasized the importance of residents' participation for this project, as their input would be integrated into the final draft, due out in May.