The rising spires of Assumption Church on Syracuse's north side are the signature landmark of the North Salina Street corridor. On an evening walk heading north in the Little Italy district your eye is drawn to the twin peaks of the church. It is what we see when we look down from there that is disconcerting.
Millions of dollars were spent to install new sidewalks, antique lamp posts and park like benches. A dozen banners per block were posted high above the curbs signaling to visitors, residents and businesses this is Little Italy.
Four years after completing the improvements weeds are growing through sidewalks, pieces are missing from park benches and a block that once had ten banners now has two.
David Mankiewicz is the president of the University Hill Corporation in Syracuse. This expert in urban planning is a Harvard graduate with 35 years of experience in city development. He raised concerns about the maintenance of the Little Italy improvements while addressing the Syracuse Common Council last month.
Mankiewicz is advocating for a special assessment district for the new Connective Corridor so maintenance does not fall by the wayside. Little Italy businesses did not have an established plan or budget for upkeep.
It is worth noting there are successful north side dining destinations within the Little Italy district like Francesca's Cucina and Biscotti's bakery. There is also a high number of vacant properties and a couple of businesses that have come and gone since the neighborhood's rebranding a few years ago.
The Greater North Salina Business Association does have plans to clean up the neglected blocks that are supposed to be maintained by each business owner. One member of the association tells us the association will walk the streets with weed killer. It also plans to hang new Little Italy banners soon. Kathleen DiScenna of DiScenna Travel says a new cooperative effort with CenterstateCEO and Northside Up Partnership are going to pay off soon.
Watch slideshow of photos from Little Italy neighborhood.