Tired of seeing abandoned and un-maintained properties? These are eyesores and they make our neighborhoods unattractive, undesirable and lower the value. Well, there is a solution in progress. Let me introduce you to the Land Bank, our county’s strategy to reclaim these properties and restore them to serving useful roles in our communities. The Land Bank (officially the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation, which was created in 2012) acts on behalf of Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse to acquire, redevelop, and improve tax delinquent, vacant or abandoned property. The restoration of these devastated properties will begin to revive neighborhoods to encourage economic opportunities throughout Onondaga County.
“Great practice coach,” Frankie said as he slid his baseball glove over the end of his handlebars. His dad would kill him if he wasn’t polite to the coach. Respecting your elders was probably his number one rule. Especially when that elder was doing something out of the kindness of his heart, like coaching Little League for free.
Along the Lakeshore column from the April 23, 2014 edition of the Skaneateles Press.
Here in Central New York, April brings days of spring rain, sprinkled with a few glimpses of the summer sun. The changing weather reminds us that Earth is a beautiful place, and we need to be doing everything we can to keep it that way. This year, Earth Day is April 22, and Arbor Day is April 25. While these commemorations bring us together to revitalize our community after a long, bitter winter, they are also important reminders of the conditions and vulnerability of the world around us. There is a critical need for ongoing education, action, and change when it comes to our environment. This year’s Earth Day theme is “Green Cities.” By improving conditions in our cities, we can improve conditions for future generations around the world.
When former Liverpool Mayor Jon Zappola and his family returned from a recent sojourn in the Sunshine State, he went to remove the Christmas wreath from the house, and discovered a mother robin had laid five eggs in a nest she’d fashioned in the wreath. No wonder the Zappolas’ holiday wreath will remain up for a while on their First Street home! A former baseball coach and art teacher, Zappola now serves as chairman of the Liverpool Village Housing Authority, which oversees the House at 807 that has provided affordable housing for elders since 1999. The House at 807 on Oswego Street currently has two vacancies. If you’re interested in an apartment there, visit house-at-807.org, or call 457-1334.
Along the Lakeshore column from the April 16, 2014 edition of the Skaneateles Press.
Last month, I read an article in The New York Times entitled “Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney,” by Ron Suskind (nytimes.com/2014/03/09/magazine/reaching-my-autistic-son-through-disney.html?_r=0). As the title suggests, the article chronicles Suskind’s experience with his son, Owen, a lover of Disney movies who was diagnosed with autism. At the time of his diagnosis, Owen, 3 years old, was non-verbal. But through memorizing the dialogue and inflections from the various Disney characters in the movies he loved, over the course of a number of years, he created his own language that he used for communicating and connecting with others. As a parent of a child with special needs, I found his story to be moving and very inspirational. The article is an excerpt from Suskind’s book that was released this month called “Life, Animated.” The timing seemed particularly apt since April is Autism Awareness Month in New York.
The spring and summer months after the Oscars come out can be a difficult time for American movie goers. It seems like all of the well-crafted, interesting movies have gone into hiding and in their place have arrived jarring blockbusters and action flicks designed solely to overstimulate the senses. While those movies can sometimes be fun (Thor, I'm thinking of you here), overall they don't offer much satisfaction to people who see cinema as an art form on par with great literature or painting.
They may not be many, but the five oil paintings that comprise Maureen Lemko’s ongoing exhibit are certainly memorable. The artist colorfully depicts a quintet of familiar scenes in her work hanging through April at the Liverpool Public Library lobby. All artists aspire to show us our world through a new pair of eyes, and Maureen succeeds as she brings a fresh perspective to Old First, the village’s iconic burnt umber brick edifice. Other local landmarks Lemko rendered include Liverpool United Methodist’s famous purple door, an old willow basket barn, Liverpool Cemetery and Baldwinsville’s Abbott Farms.
Times are tough, and families are doing everything they can just to make ends meet. The particularly harsh winter didn’t help, driving utility bills through the roof and making the cost-of-living even less affordable. Central New York families have struggled for long enough. That’s why I fought for a state budget that includes funding for vital programs and initiatives to relieve the burden on hardworking families.
Since moving to Syracuse from the Boston area in 2012, I have been captivated by the impassioned public push back here in Central New York on state-mandated accountability testing – high stakes testing that is lately driven by an approach to elementary and secondary education known as the Common Core Standards.
Along the Lakeshore column from the April 9, 2014 edition of the Skaneateles Press.
It is no secret that New York’s residents and businesses are over taxed. For years, businesses and residents have been leaving New York for tax-friendly states. The fiscal problems the State of New York faces are no different than other states across the country; yet, New York continues to over spend and goes so far as to ask local municipalities to shoulder much of the financial burden from those decisions. Local representatives at the state and federal level are desperately trying to change the business climate in New York by offering tax credits and incentive packages for relocating businesses to New York, creating jobs, and improving the skill level of employees. As an advocate for the free market approach to business, I applaud the intent underpinning these programs (the encouragement of business activity in New York state), but I am apprehensive about the precedent and disparate treatment the tax credits and incentives are creating.
Along the Lakeshore column from the April 2, 2014 Skaneateles Press.
Ready or not, here comes baseball. Syracuse Chiefs groundskeeper John Stewart and his crew worked overtime last week scraping ice out of the dugouts at NBT Bank Stadium, where the local International League entry hopes to open its season at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 3. The top farm club of the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs will face New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, who remain in town for games at 5 p.m. Friday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.
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