The residents of Brewerton will have to keep waiting for their revitalization project to come to fruition.
The project, which started in 2006 under then-Supervisor Chet Dudzinski, has yet to move beyond the planning phases. The town has received numerous grants for the proposal, which town and state officials have said will make the riverfront hamlet a tourist attraction, and, according to various sources, has expended anywhere from $435,000 to close to $900,000 of that money.
But so far, there’s very little to show for it.
“Basically what happened was we’re still forging ahead, but some of the things we have to do now should have been done in the beginning,” said Supervisor Judy Boyke.
The major holdup at this point involves the Oneida and Onondaga nations and the New York State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO). The area along the riverfront in which much of the building is expected to take place, Boyke said, involves a “known archeological situation.”
“Saratoga Associates is the group that took over the master plan and the design, so we’re working with them and the Department of Transportation, which is in control of the grant from [Sen. Charles] Schumer [in the amount of $917,280],” Boyke said. “They have the final say on the acceptance of the plan. We have to present this plan to the nations and to SHPO, because they had not been involved before.”
When they saw the plan, SHPO did a Phase 1-A, which Boyke described as a “drive-by” examination in which they checked to see if digging would be necessary. They determined it would, so they requested that the town do a Phase I-B involving digging and siftings for archeological evidence in the area to determine if any additional digging will need to be done.
“Now we have to wait for the findings, if any, from the Phase 1-B study,” Boyke said. “Then the recommendation will come as to what the next step is with the park.”
Until that step comes, everything else is on hold.
“It’s all part of that whole bundle,” Boyke said. “Nothing else will happen until the park is done. It’s all a matter of money. We have to have money to match the grant to submit to DOT, and they’ll pay us back.”
On the plus side, things are happening elsewhere in Brewerton. As noted in last week’s Star-Review, a Nice N Easy megastore is being constructed on Bartel Road. It’s the first time Brewerton has had its own grocery store in a number of years.
“There used to be a Big M, I believe, but between the two big Walmarts, the Wegmans in Cicero, the Target, they just got squeezed out,” Boyke said. “We’ve been trying to entice a grocery store or some type of facility in there, but it’s pretty tough to do with that kind of competition.”
John MacDougall, president and CEO of the Canastota-based Nice N Easy chain of stores, thought Brewerton would be an ideal place to try out a new concept he was thinking about, and Boyke said she jumped at the chance.
“We had quite a discussion on it,” she said. “Brewerton needs a grocery store, something that would be reasonably priced that would carry fresh produce and meat. He came back and told me they’d like to bring a megastore into Brewerton because they found there would be a need for it.”
The new 7,000-square-foot store will have an entirely new design with groceries inside as well as an eatery, plus enhanced gas pump islands.
“I hope it’s going to encourage people to at least stop,” Boyke said. “Hopefully it’s also going to encourage other types of businesses that would attract tourists.”
Boyke, a lifelong Brewerton resident, said she still has high hopes for the revitalization project despite all the delays.
“I lived there all my life,” Boyke said. “I’ve seen it when it was a hamlet and over the years I’ve watched it spread out and expand. It’s a nice, quaint town and I’d like to see it grow, and I’d like to encourage other people to come enjoy the quaintness of the town.”
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.