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Syracuse must break out of the ‘box’

Endless bike racks fill a street in Leiden, a Dutch city with a population of about 117,000. The city of Syracuse has about 145,000 residents.

Endless bike racks fill a street in Leiden, a Dutch city with a population of about 117,000. The city of Syracuse has about 145,000 residents. Tim Scott

— To the editor:

The city of Syracuse is requesting feedback regarding the upcoming reconstruction of Route 81. This is a great opportunity to explore the possibilities of creating a pedestrian- and bike-friendly city. While downtown Syracuse, particularly, Hanover and Armory Square, attract a small percentage of the outlying population on specific days and hours, it is simply not enough for Syracuse to thrive. 

My husband and I are currently in Europe and have been to similar size cities where vibrant pedestrian districts are a boon to commerce and the general quality of life.  This walking culture is something that many of our smaller cities lack. We could be a little Boston, a new San Fran and so forth if only we would give our city more vision for our city than the “grey box” built by Congel. We could widen the city streets, creating a path for both those on foot and others who prefer pedaling to their destination. We could actively recruit outside businesses, empower local entrepreneurs to open shops that offer traditional Upstate New York cuisine, and encourage people of all ages to enjoy a stroll down Salina Street — and feel safe at the same time. We have already begun a “Little Italy” — why stop there?

The only way this can happen is if the community and its elected leaders are behind a wholesome approach toward a new identity. There’s no reason to limit downtown to vehicles only with empty storefronts. Include foot and bike paths, and the potential results are endless: active teens, youth, middle-aged and seniors; growth in the business district, a safer environment.  More visitors and an aesthetically-pleasing atmosphere, would reduce crime; and restore a pride Syracuse has not felt since its heyday.

Tami and Tim Scott, Liverpool

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