Happy July: A time to reflect on what it means to be a citizen
"One man with courage is a majority."
We're just coming off the Fourth of July weekend. We think that's good cause to consider citizenship. Our founding fathers instilled the virtue of working together for the common good. But we know from research that civic engagement is down across the board. People are paying less attention to civic responsibility. They are participating less and complaining more. But, being a citizen doesn't mean just being in a community. It means being part of it. As you read this issue, we invite you to think about how you are engaged in community. How are you teaching the value of civic responsibility to your children and grandchildren? How you can pass those values on?
One simple way is volunteering together -- with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. So we want to salute the citizens of the Corridor -- our volunteers who take on the hard work of community stewardship, and do so with a sense of service and pride.
We invite you to join them Saturday, July 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at Forman Park for beautification day. The July cleanup day is the biggest of the year since we're in high growing season for our perennials (and weeds) that are blooming in the park. Bring garden gloves, your spade, shovel, rake or hedge clippers, join a work team, meet some great folks and get in the action.
Refreshments will be donated by area businesses and the cleanup is being led by the Police Retirees of Syracuse and Central New York. This activity counts as community service, so we also encourage you to bring your teens and we'll provide personalized letters for area schools or classes that require a service component. Come to any portion of the event that works for you. You'll be doing something valuable for the park, the community and Syracuse's all-important civic infrastructure. We salute these fantastic volunteers who are the heart and spirit of the Connective Corridor, and who are working to keep Syracuse's front gateway looking beautiful for visitors as well of those of us who live, work, study and recreate here in this city we love. Cleanups are the second Saturday of each month from April to November. Please feel free to join us for any portion of any of the day.
These pictures are worth a 1,000 words. Thank you to our wonderful volunteers.
Can’t come to a cleanup but want to help Beautify Syracuse?
Donate on-line to: https://www.cnycf.org/syracusebeauty
The Public Value of Urban Parks
"What does it mean to be an American citizen? It means that we are blessed to be part of this nation; we are concerned about a shortage of civic awareness and engagement; and we should act to effect meaningful change through countless avenues for civic action. Above all, it means we are responsible for tending to our own democracy, making it work for all and transmitting it to our children better than we inherited it." -- The Center on Congress, a research center at Indiana University Bloomington
Why do we build parks? It goes beyond a respect for nature. Research by the Wallace Foundation and published by The Urban Institute notes that "The new view of urban parks calls attention to the broader contributions they can make to the vitality of communities and residents." According to study author Chris Walker, small urban parks have the potential to build new partnerships that strengthen the community not just through the link between property values and proximity to green space, but because of the potential they offer as broader social and civic assets to communities. Park stewardship programs create vitality for communities and residents, and are especially important to youth by helping them develop work skills that build physical, intellectual, emotional and social strength. Equally important, when communities join together to participate in park management, they are engaged in important community-building exercises that result in enhanced health and well-being. That community stewardship is essential because across the country, three decades of steady decline in public expenditures to maintain parks and public infrastructure are challenging cities to come up with creative solutions by expanding community-based partnerships. "In good partnerships, one party's assets offset the other's liabilities," writes Walker. "Thus, in addition to their own virtues, such collaborations have value in their own right, helping to strengthen the local civic infrastructure."
What's the maintenance plan for the Corridor?
One of the most common questions we receive this time of year is, "What's the maintenance plan for the Corridor?" Last year, a series of outreach sessions with stakeholders helped craft a multi-prong strategy that is outlined here. It includes these basics:
- Adopt Forman Park Program, implemented by the Police Retirees Association of Syracuse and Central New York with participation by area businesses, residents and community groups
- Save the Rain Adopt a Green Space Program to manage rain gardens, and a county maintenance agreement with the City of Syracuse for other elements of green infrastructure
- "Front Yard" commitments by area businesses for the improved public spaces in front of their buildings, including basic weeding and mulching of tree pits, enhanced seasonal plantings, watering, litter control, sticker and gum removal and clearing snow from sidewalks. These commitments are being monitored by East Genesee Street Regents Association (EGRA) board leadership
- Syracuse Beautification Fund through the Central New York Community Foundation for enhanced services. Contribute on-line: https://www.cnycf.org/syracusebeauty
- Warranties on landscaping, street fixtures/furniture and park improvements being managed by the City of Syracuse (since all improvements are publicly owned and part of the public right of way)
- City of Syracuse commitments through the Department of Parks and Department of Public Works, as outlined here
- Capital maintenance funds for equipment to maintain the improvements as outlined here
If you take a ride around the Corridor you'll easily see which property owners are taking civic pride in these public improvements and investing the energy and effort to keep their "front yards" looking great. We salute these good neighbors. Here is a great example, below, from Rothschild Management Corporation at 821 East Genesee Street.
Property owners have authority to maintain and enhance landscaped areas in front of their business. Look for creative examples and applaud property owners who are doing a great job. We love to see this careful attention to making the neighborhood more beautiful for all to enjoy. Thanks to those businesses that are putting in the extra time, energy and effort to do these beautification projects!
Progress Notes and Construction Update
You'll see great progress this week along the 200 and 300 blocks of West Fayette Streets as work begins wrapping up in the Armory Square area over the next week or so. Street lighting and vault work by National Grid is done, new granite curbs have been installed and sidewalks are ready for pouring. Next up will be "painting it black" -- pouring the asphalt concrete to finish off those two blocks of the street. Work is also moving quickly in the Fayette Park area, with sidewalks and pavers going in the stretches between Townsend and State Streets. Drainage work is continuing along East Genesee Street on the south side of Forman Park, and you'll see fine grading along East Genesee Street between Townsend and Almond Streets. Base paving and binder work is also scheduled in this area the week of 7/7 to 7/14. National Grid and the City of Syracuse Water Department are coordinating on the schedule for an East Fayette Street water main replacement project from South Salina Street to Montgomery Street that will be a major project. We will share that information as we receive it -- this work is expected to be a duration of 5-6 weeks, and tentative plans call for it to progress from Montgomery Street west to Salina Street in three stages. We are currently anticipating that the contractors will return to Fayette Street at Salina, proceeding east with road reconstruction in early September, pending completion of the City's water main project. We'll post updates as we receive them.