Feb 28, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
Finishing touches: B’ville waterfront development to be completed this summer
First there was Paper Mill Island. Then the village focused on the Sergei Yevich Trail, followed by the pedestrian walkways along River and Water streets. Now, Baldwinsville’s Waterfront Revitalization Plan will come full circle as construction on Village Square is completed this summer.
In addition, the Southshore East trail, a final route of the four trails connecting each quarter of the village, will also be completed this summer. Residents and visitors, alike, can walk or bike to the center of Baldwinsville via the Sergei Yevich Trail from the northeastern end, River Street’s pedestrian path at the northwestern end and the Southshore West and Southshore East trails in the southern portion of the village.
“Village Square is the connecting node – Yevich ends there, northshore ties into village square, Southshore West and Southshore East tie together at Route 48 and there is also the Paper Mill Island trail. All four trails come together there – it’s like the spokes of a wheel meeting,” said Village Engineer Tim Baker.
Once known for its mills more than its beauty, the village has changed its image, thanks in part to the development, drawing thousands of villagers and tourists to its center during summer weekends, and nearly as many during winter weekend events.
While demolition of the old Harrington Firehouse took place nearly five years ago, Village Square construction started last spring. With the cooperative weather, progress has been made all season long including the most recent addition of LED lighting, which was donated by Ephesus, a local company, and aptly named the B’ville Lite.
“The main work is done,” Baker said, adding there is top soil to spread, trees and grass to plant, flower bed work and sidewalks to install. “We’re in the landscaping phase of it.”
In regards to the Southshore East Trail, the village has purchased several properties to provide public access along the river including a five-acre property costing $40,000 from NYS Barge Canal and a $65,000 Meadow Street property through a private sale.
“This will help us to run the trail along the river,” said Mayor Joseph Saraceni.
Other than the purchases, SSET is not overly complicated, Baker said.
“We’ll be putting in a bridge to cross Crooked Brook,” Baker said, which will also connect Community Park to the village. Incidentally, the pedestrian bridge came from Ogdensburg where Baker served as village engineer prior to moving to Baldwinsville. “It’s a used bridge . . . where it was used was filled in, so it’s unnecessary now.”
Overall, the trail has been a long time in the making as village officials worked to meet requirements from various entities including the NYS Barge Canals, NYS DEC and the Army CORPs engineers.
“This is the village following through with its commitment to public access to the Seneca River,” Saraceni said.
Funding for projects
It has been a long-term investment for the village with the cost for Village Square totaling near $500,000 alone. Officials estimate the out of pocket cost to be $466,418 and funding has come from a variety of sources including leftover Pepsi fund money ($187,000) from Paper Mill Island construction; a Community Development grant ($90,000), of which the village had to match 25 percent; village parks department money ($60,000), received from developers as in lieu of parks payments; and Highway Fund money (approximately $65,000). Officials also budget ed$50,000 total in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 village budgets, which came from taxpayers.
The Southshore East Trail received $350,000 in funding through a TEA-21 grant (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century). Some of the grant money will be used to pay down a previously secured $344,000, five-year Statutory Installment Bond, which helped pay for various projects in the Waterfront Revitalization Plan including the relocation of the village’s salt storage, engineering costs on Lock Street and the purchase of canal properties along the southern shore of the Seneca River. The sale of the village’s Lock Street property (the former village DPW) will also help pay down the bond.
Looking at the Sergei Yevich Trail, future plans include the village connecting with a town of Lysander trail that will enable residents living in developments along Route 370 access to the village by foot and bike.
“These trails bring economic opportunity and leisure activities to residents,” Saraceni said.
In fact, the Sergei Yevich Trail was used earlier this year as part of the first annual Syracuse Marathon, which organizers plan to make an annual event.
“Economically, that is huge,” Saraceni said about the village being the halfway point for a marathon of that magnitude. “This waterfront development is drawing economic opportunities to the village of Baldwinsville.”
Facelift eyed for Inner Harbor
Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, which takes up 34 acres of land, may be getting the facelift it needs.
According to Ben Walsh, deputy commissioner of neighborhood and business development, an agreement between COR Development and the city was reached a while back for COR to develop 28 acres of the property, which is owned by Canal Corporation. The remaining land will be set aside solely for public use. It was also backed by Mayor Stephanie Miner.
An advisory committee tabbed COR, which beat out two other developers, to take on the $350 million project. It was the third time the city has tried to find a developer. The first two tries yielded nothing in the way of results. Walsh said early on, it was thought the Inner Harbor may be broken down into smaller parcels of five-to-six acres, but that idea was shot down.
Walsh said the transfer of everything over to COR will take about six months, but after that the Inner Harbor figures to become a hotbed of activity for the city.
“It’s for mixed-use development,” Walsh said. “There will be some residential, retail and commercial use. Basically, we want to take the public to the waterfront.”
Among the things outlined by COR include an Onondaga Community College satellite campus, a hotel, several office buildings, an apartment complex and a boathouse.
The work on the harbor coincides with Carousel Center’s morph into Destiny USA, which is slated to open in the spring. The Inner Harbor is located right next to the massive shopping center, which will soon be a 2.4 million square foot mega-shopping destination. Walsh said that while both projects will benefit each other, Pyramid, which owns the mall, and the Inner Harbor will not be working together to develop anything.
“I’d imagine they will have to work with each other in some capacity, or at least work parallel to each other,” Walsh said. “Everyone’s plans should be accounted for.”
The idea for the development is to bring people to enjoy what Walsh said is the beauty of the Inner Harbor. There are nice views and relaxing places to kick back, as well as a picturesque creek walk.
“My wife and I walk along the creek a lot and it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy what the area has to offer,” Walsh added.
Walsh went on to say the city wants to add to the amenities already available, which include what he describes as a vibrant downtown area.
“This is something that we’ve been working on for a long time,” he said. “Granted we’re only into the first phase of it, but that’s a big step considering the early obstacles we had of not being able to find a developer. It’s going to take some years to finish the entire project, but at least now we know it’s on the way.”