Mayor Stephanie Miner will deliver her fifth State of the City address Thursday evening with the theme of "embracing change," and intends to address the controversy over a proposed arena in Syracuse.
In an interview with CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, Miner did not divulge exact details of her speech which will outline many of the initiatives she intends to accomplish in the coming year. However, she says she will announce the creation of a "stadium task force" as part of the annual speech.
The panel will be, "working with Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud," to study the community and economic impacts of a new sports arena, according to the Mayor's Office.
Miner says she chose St. Patrick's Lofts in Tipperary Hill as the location for the State of the City because she says it represents the idea of embracing change. She says "St. Patrick's is near and dear to Tipperary Hill" when it closed a school, but has been redeveloped into a new use as apartments.
Miner says she will focus on quality of life issues in the speech as well as economic development and improving neighborhoods. She will also point to the "burgeoning downtown" in which private developers are transforming the center of the city into a residential and retail destination.
The Mayor will reveal a Pension Smoothing Savings Plan to save the city more than $9 million in the next 15 years and will also call for new funding for the Syracuse Main Street Program. This will pay for the renovation of building facades along major neighborhood business corridors. The program will be piloted along the South Avenue and Grant Boulevard/Butternut Circle corridors.
Mayor Miner will reveal a new Gang Director position that will use funds from a federal grant. The city has hired Lawrence Williams as the new Gang Director to work with the TRUCE project to better facilitate communication between gang members looking to turn around their lives and law enforcement and social service agencies.
To ease the frustration of drivers downtown, the city will take part in a new Parking App for smartphones. Whoosh! is a pay for parking smart phone application which allows users to pay for parking without using a standard meter or pay station. It works by registering their license plate number through the app and paying for parking electronically.
As in past speeches, the Mayor says she will talk about the financial crisis facing Syracuse. She says when she took office "we faced two years of budget deficits, now we're seeing surpluses."
Miner also intends to address the controversy over the proposed arena. She has been both praised and criticized for putting the brakes to a plan to build a $500 million sports arena in an area formerly occupied by the Kennedy Square housing project. Miner was apparently not included in talks among Governor Cuomo, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Syracuse University. The Mayor says she still has not seen the feasibility study that the university commissioned.
Miner says, "I've had several conversations with the Chancellor and I think we're both on the same page in terms of understanding how important it is to have a transparent process to keep the public informed and to talk about how we as a community move forward."