City

Miner’s 2013 State of the City Address discusses projects affecting university

Mayor Stephanie Miner took to the stage of Dr. Weeks Elementary School Thursday night and outlined the progress the city has made since she assumed office in 2010.

“This goal, this image, this Syracuse that we have been reaching inside ourselves to see, this Syracuse that we have been dreaming about and talking about for so long, is becoming real before our eyes,” she said toward the conclusion of the event.

But Miner’s fourth State of the City Address also touched on several areas relevant to Syracuse University.

Specifically, she discussed: Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s work with the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, the Connective Corridor and SU’s voluntary service agreement payments to the city.

More than 350 people went to the speech, held slightly north of downtown. For an elementary school, nearly everyone in attendance was an adult wearing formal clothing. The noticeable exception was the Syracuse Fire Fighters Association, whose members lined the walls of the room in neon orange shirts protesting the proposed closure of Fire Station No. 7 at 1039 E. Fayette St. The closure was not discussed during the speech.

Prior to Miner’s speech, Common Council President Van Robinson introduced a video featuring the mayor “driving” to the address.

Among those who made appearances in the video were Cantor, who was working on the Connective Corridor; County Executive Joanie Mahoney; New York Sen. Charles Schumer and State Sen. John DeFrancisco — who asked Miner how difficult it was being mayor —a joke regarding speculation he might run against her in November.

Miner then took to the stage at 6:50 p.m.

The first topic related to SU was the CNY-REDC, which is co-chaired by Cantor. Miner credited the organization for bringing more than $20 million in projects to the city alone, and thanked Cantor — who wasn’t in attendance — and co-chair and CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson.

“The council, acting as a liaison between our region and New York state, has provided leadership, facilitation, and a unified vision to help bring home more than $93.7 million for Central New York,” Miner said. “We at City Hall have advocated for our priority projects and policy initiatives.”

Besides the opening video, the Connective Corridor — a project aiming to bring SU and downtown closer through a $42.5 million, three-phase transportation and streetscape project — was also touched on during Miner’s speech.

The mayor acknowledged the completion of phase one, which involved University Avenue being turned into a two-way street with bike lanes. She also mentioned the second phase of the project will start soon, thanks in part to a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Finally, Miner discussed the city’s voluntary service agreement with SU. It’s a program where the university voluntarily pays Syracuse about $500,000 each year to help offset the city’s costs for public services such as snowplowing and fire protection.

“These agreements not only help the city’s bottom line, and therefore assist in providing quality public services to our community, they are also a statement of collective vision, partnership and community good will,” she said.

Ryan McMahon, chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature and former Common Councilor, said a lot of the initiatives discussed by Miner involved the county government — a partnership he said he wants to see continue.

But McMahon, a Republican who’s considering running for mayor, said he still sees room for improvement.

“I think a lot of initiatives are always good, but you need to be good at your core — your nuts and bolt issues,” he said in an interview after the speech, citing education, public safety and quality of life issues in certain neighborhoods. “And I think we’ve got room to improve there,” he added.

Common Councilor At-Large Helen Hudson said the State of the City Address is traditionally directed toward the council, though it also gives updates on the large projects the city is undertaking. All members on the council are currently Democrats.

Hudson seemed approving of Miner’s address.

“I think that she did her homework, and I think that with the challenges she has in front of us that it’s going to be very daunting,” Hudson said in an interview after the speech. “But I think that Mayor Miner is actually going to be the right person to make these changes happen.”

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