By Mark Venesky
As we continue to prepare the town of Cicero for a new level of success, I want to share with you a little about where we have focused our efforts and some of what we have accomplished in my first 100 days as your supervisor. I say we because I want to recognize the contributions of our town board and the efforts of our dedicated town employees.
First I’d like to welcome attorney Jonathan Karp as the newest member of the Cicero Town Board. Jonathan was appointed to fill my vacant seat on Jan. 4. In the short time that he has served, he has rewritten and proposed useful changes to some of our town code and has provided an insightful perspective on the challenges that the town faces.
We have successfully renegotiated our insurance coverage costs through our Insurance broker. This includes a change of carriers for certain types of insurance. The result is a savings of $66,000 for 2016. This savings alone exceeds my yearly salary by more than $20,000.
We have entered into negotiations to implement solar power in the town of Cicero. The experts tell us that we can save $120,000 per year on our street lighting and on our town’s power costs. Under this plan, additional savings will be available to our homeowners and to businesses residing within the town. This proposal makes Cicero more attractive to businesses and potentially provides a huge benefit to our homeowners. If the savings as presented to the town hold true, the first panels will be installed at our old landfill site by October of this year.
This town board has taken the necessary steps to begin the repair of the sanitary sewer system in Brewerton. The issue of fresh water getting into the sanitary sewer and overwhelming the treatment plant was identified more than 20 years ago. We are the first board to begin tackling this problem. After setting money aside last fall and successfully securing grants this year, our town engineer tells us that we will remove more than 17 million gallons of fresh water per year from the Brewerton treatment plant by 2017. This is not only great for the environment, but necessary for Cicero’s future.
We are implementing a comprehensive health and safety program that, I’m told, is unique and unprecedented in the public sector. It will cover everything from safety awareness in an office environment to formal driver training for our highway and parks team members. The result will be a higher level of safety awareness with all at town hall and a higher level of professionalism with our drivers and equipment operators. We will develop a lasting culture of safety that will keep our people safer and one that will better enable us to control our workers compensation costs.
We have reopened the town’s comprehensive plan and we’re proactively working to rezone areas of Cicero that will make us more competitive for business development without infringing upon the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Developers have told me that they want this, and we of your Cicero management team are determined to make the town of Cicero one of the most attractive places to open or expand a business in Onondaga County. Our planning board and code enforcement team stand ready to work hand in hand with people who wish to locate or grow a business in Cicero. A major focus of ours is working to capitalize on that huge economic engine, Raceway Park, which is under construction adjacent to the hamlet of Brewerton in the town of Hastings. We recognize that the hamlet of Brewerton is the northernmost gateway to Cicero and Onondaga County, and we believe that the thousands of visitors that Raceway Park is anticipated to bring will want to stay in Cicero. Having anticipated a possible bottleneck caused by the additional traffic, we reached out to and are working with the New York State Department of Transportation to make sure any traffic issues are addressed.
We have engaged our five fire departments in ongoing conversations to improve efficiencies and eliminate redundancies. With the fire departments, we are developing a plan that should reduce our cost while improving service to our residents. It will make us more efficient and is designed to reduce the influence of politics and personalities surrounding fire related decision-making. This is a huge undertaking and I hope to have a plan for public review by the end of 2017.
We are moving along with our plan to relocate our highway department, police department and courts to newer facilities that will provide adequate, clean and long term solutions to our present outdated and antiquated buildings. The Environmental Impact Studies for both the proposed highway garage site on Route 31 and the police/courts relocation site (the old South Bay Fire Department building) have come back with positive results. Our attorneys are working to close on both sites.
I recognize that it is important for you to have ready access to all town services. To address that, we have engaged a web designer and a website content coordinator to develop and administer a new town web site that will better reflect who we are and be more user friendly to those who touch us electronically. (Just a reminder: we’re on Facebook too. Come “like” us there.)
Our roads program for 2016 continues to take shape. I have completed driving every road in the town with Highway Superintendent Chris Woznica. He and his team are putting the finishing touches on what we’ll be able to complete this year. We will continue to follow the Cornell Roads Program that was adopted under Supervisor Jim Corl. More to follow.
I hope that I have provided here some insight as to where, on your behalf, I have been focused these first 100 days. I sincerely appreciate the confidence that you have shown in me and you’re always welcome to reach out to me with any town or business-related concerns.