The town of Cicero’s highway garage has a host of structural and safety issues, including overcrowding of vehicles, extensive corrosion, mold and failure to meet OSHA and ADA standards. The town is considering a $9.9 million proposal to build a new highway garage on Route 31. (Photos by Ashley M. Casey)
By Ashley M. Casey
Residents in the town of Cicero will vote on the $9.9 million proposal to build a new highway garage in a referendum June 7.
Last month, the Cicero Town Board voted to bond for the construction of the highway barn. The decision was subject to permissive referendum, and a group of citizens led by former Town Supervisor Judy Boyke and current Town Councilor Mike Becallo carried a petition to bring the matter to a vote.
In an email to the Star-Review, Boyke said 635 residents signed the petition, 141 more than the 494 signatures required to force the referendum. The town board voted unanimously April 12 to schedule the referendum.
“True checks and balances came through in the town of Cicero,” Becallo said of the referendum. “These citizens spoke up; these citizens have been heard. They will have their opportunity to opportunity to vote on this building. Whether it’s approved or not is up to the citizens.”
While elections are normally held at town hall, the June 7 referendum will take place in the current highway garage.
“I want to give everybody who signed that petition the chance to see what they’re voting for,” Town Supervisor Mark Venesky told the Star-Review.
Venesky said at the April 12 town board meeting that the town will rent a handicapped-accessible porta-potty to accommodate people with disabilities because the highway garage’s restrooms are located upstairs. Venesky said highway employees will report to the parks and recreation office to clock in and out on June 7 so as not to disturb voting.
“We were elected to do the will of the people and to do the right thing, and to get into the weeds of this stuff,” Venesky said of the board’s March 8 vote to seek a $9.9 million bond subject to permissive referendum.
Venesky said engineers told the town if the project was approved in March, contractors could break ground by September and have the building envelope completed and ready for office staff and mechanics to move in by winter.
“We do what you pay us to do. If you want to vote, we’re going to bring it to a vote,” Venesky said. “Six-hundred and thirty-five people signed a petition — passed by Mr. Becallo, primarily, and his father — to do this.”
Venesky said the referendum could cost the town both time and money, and he encouraged voters to “do the right thing on June 7.”
Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at the highway garage, 8236 Brewerton Road, Cicero.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.