Lysander Park (townoflysander.org)
With less than a week to spare before the Nov. 7 deadline to make a decision, last Thursday the Baldwinsville Village Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to approve the annexation of Lysander Park into the village.
The village and the Lysander Town Board had 90 days from their Aug. 9 joint public hearing to take action on the annexation, or it would have been automatically approved under the state’s Municipal Annexation Law.
Trustee Andy Dryden, along with Trustee Mike Shepard and Mayor Dick Clarke, voted against the annexation. Dryden was vocal in his opposition to the agreement. He said the village will incur increased costs, while the town of Lysander will reap the benefits.
“I’m not a naysayer, but it’s been kind of a one-sided thing,” he said. “The benefit to the village honestly is negative.”
While the annexation agreement does not mention Lysander’s proposed spray park, Dryden said the project is the “driving force” behind the annexation. The town of Lysander wants access to the village’s sewer system and protection from the Baldwinsville Police Department.
“We’re not saying no to what they need,” Dryden said. “We have other ways of doing it without getting into what I consider an abomination of an annexation. This process is not intended to annex a municipal property.”
Dryden said the village could provide police and sewer services through intermunicipal agreements. He said a sewer IMA lasts 40 years, which would be longer than the useful life of the spray park equipment, which is estimated at 30 years. He suggested the municipalities enter into a five-year IMA for police protection to see if the park really benefited from it.
“They already have substantial police protection. The town owns the barracks for the State Troopers, the [Onondaga County] Sheriffs patrol the area, the village police would certainly respond in an emergency as they always would,” Dryden said.
Deputy Mayor Bruce Stebbins said the agreement would strengthen the relationship between the two municipalities.
“It’s always good for two municipalities to cooperate,” he said. “If that’s all there is, having a good relationship with our neighbor is good.”
Stebbins also said extending police protection to the park might not increase the village’s expenditures after all.
“We have no calculated costs. That’s a presumption that there will be a cost,” he said.
Trustee Mark Wilder said regular police patrols of the park could deter behavior that might lead to larger, more expensive emergencies.
Mayor Dick Clarke said all of the residents he has spoken to about the issue are opposed to the annexation, but Trustee Megan O’Donnell said one constituent told her they approved of the idea.
“An adjacent property owner to the park that said they absolutely think it’s a great idea. They would love to have our police patrolling that park on a regular basis,” she said.
Wilder said the annexation agreement could lead to further expansion opportunities for the village by connecting contiguous properties. He said the village also would have a say in improvements to the park.
“If there are improvements to the park, they would have to come in front of the planning board. Then we might have a seat at the table for things like the discharge from the spray park and whether that puts an undue burden on Tannery Creek and other items,” Wilder said. “I think it would put us into having some say where we have none right now.”
Code Enforcement Officer Gregg Humphrey said the town would be subject to the village’s code, building permits, inspections and fees.
Village Engineer Steve Darcangelo expressed his reservations about this.
“That could be the very thing that could put friction between the village [and the town] when our planning board starts dictating to them what they’re going to do regarding a project,” Darcangelo said.
Dryden suggested the municipalities hold off on the annexation until the town votes on acquiring the property at 8431 Smokey Hollow Road. The issue was on the town board’s work session agenda for Nov. 1, but not included in the resolutions for its meeting agenda. Supervisor Joe Saraceni said the board will vote on the $75,000 purchase at a later date.
“Is it worth putting this off another year and letting them reapply when they acquire the other land and decide what they really want?” he said.
The trustees expressed their annoyance that the Lysander Town Board had not approved the annexation agreement prior to the two boards’ Nov. 1 meetings. At the Oct. 18 village board meeting, Lysander Supervisor Joe Saraceni said the town board could hold a special meeting to vote on the agreement.
“I would have preferred that we would have had these i’s dotted and these T’s crossed before we were put in this position,” Wilder said.
“I was led to believe that we would know when we started our meeting tonight that they had approved it, and that hasn’t happened. It concerned me a little bit,” Clarke said.
The village board waited for word from Lysander, which was holding its budget public hearing Nov. 1. Village Attorney Bob Baldwin called Lysander’s attorney, Tony Rivizzigno, who said the town board would hold an executive session after their meeting to vote on the annexation agreement.
Ultimately, the village board voted to approve the annexation.
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.