Taxpayer ripoff on Onondaga Lake?

Onondaga Lake Marina / file

Are rich yacht owners and Syracuse University taking advantage of prime waterfront property at taxpayers expense?

Friday, the Onondaga County Legislature's Ways and Means Committee balked at the 25 year lease agreements with the Onondaga Yacht Club and Syracuse University on waterfront property. Legislator Tom Buckle raised the possibility that the lease agreements were so generous that they might violate state laws against, "gifts" to private entities.

Democratic floor leader Mark Stanczyk is calling for a market analysis in which the properties would be appraised so that the Yacht Club and Syracuse University are paying their fair share for the lease agreements. The legislation is expected to be revisited in January after the analysis is finished.

Under the proposed lease, the Onondaga Yacht Club, located at the Onondaga Lake Marina, will shell out $1800 per year which will increase by $50 per year for each of the next 25 years. Though the yacht club owns its building, it sits on taxpayer owned property which is part of Onondaga Lake Park. As part of the lease, the yacht club will maintain its docks in the marina and parking areas. The lease agreement is essentially a continuation of the previous lease.

The Ways and Means Committee is also considering a 25 year lease agreement between Onondaga County and Syracuse University for the use of the boat house on the northern outlet of Onondaga Lake where it meets the Seneca River. SU and area high schools use the facility for various crew meets and practice. In this case, the boat house is owned by Onondaga County on land that is part of Onondaga Lake Park. Under the agreement, SU will pay Onondaga County $9000 per year which will increase by $200 for each of the 25 years. Again, the agreement is a continuation of the previous lease.

Do you think the yacht club and SU are paying enough under these lease agreements? Should the county negotiate a better deal for taxpayers, or do these entities do enough to attract business and visitors to the area?