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Man on Main Street: Camillus mayor leads the way for village improvements

Take a walk down Main Street in Camillus and chances are you won't get a sense of prosperity. Take the same walk with Mayor Mike Montero and you'll come away feeling hopeful.

Montero has a vision for the village, one that is not without action. It all started when Richard Kirk purchased the building at 55 Main Street just when the village was about to condemn it. Kirk, a resident of Skaneateles who owns apartments in Camillus, is in the process of restoring the building to what it looked like in 1890.

"Once we saw the architectural design of what it was going to be, and once it starting being conceptualized and the carpenters were out and building it, that was a lot of motivation for me to go around and talk to business owners and tell them, this is what's available," Montero said. "Some of them even called me and said, 'How do I become a part of this?'"

The storefronts of 53 and 55 Main are being restored with help from an Onondaga Community Development grant. The interior of 55 Main St. is being renovated with $175,000 from a NY Restore Grant.

Kirk is in the process of transforming what was once a shifting heap of moldy wood (55 Main) into a formidable business called Krabby Kirk's Saloon. The Saloon will be a barbeque style restaurant and bar, serving "smoked ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage -- anything we can smoke, we're gonna smoke," Kirk said.

The county grant program's on-staff architect designed the building and CDwyer Construction is now working on the exterior, using modern materials to recreate 55 Main's 1890 look. CDwyer is also installing a stage in back where bands will perform.

Kirk and his son, also Richard, have cleared more than 80 truckloads of old materials from the building since starting work in December and have begun to install a new framework for the building, held together by oak pegs. Kirk hopes to have work on 55 Main completed before snowfall.

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