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Park Conservancy experiencing stall

Last Thursday evening 14 stakeholders gathered at the Palace Theater in Eastwood to discuss the proposed Syracuse City Park's Conservancy. The central group is the SunnyCrest Park Association Board. It is anxious as nearly two years have been spent working out the details of a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU is a document that essentially sets up the rules of organization between the city of Syracuse and a Park Conservancy. The document is ready to go to City Hall, but it appears to be stalled.

Chris Wiles the city's Assistant Attorney General was present. He said you have to wait for the lawyers at this point.

Board Member John Mariani expressed concern over this waiting game. Board member Mike Behnke agreed. They are worried that the process is going to be delayed because of the election season. Oh no, not more politics as usual.

Conservancies have been set up in other New York cities such as Buffalo, Rochester and the burrough of Manhattan. These are private non-profit organizations that work with the city to raise funds and help maintain the parks. This type of organization is citizen run and picks up where government leaves off. Essentially it is a citizens group that works together with the city's Park and Recreation Department toward a vibrant and active parks system.

How does the election season affect the development of a Conservancy? Once the mayor and common council approve, it becomes an ordinance, and the next administration would have to honor it.

This is a very active, hands-on, results oriented board. The fear is they might have to wait to really get started, while City Hall turns over.

"To our eyes, it's a terrific idea," Behnke said, "why wouldn't anyone want to deal with this efficiently?"

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