Plans to build state fair gondola halted, reasons why differ

The $15 million gondola was to feature 32 individual pods that would travel the half mile between Gate 10 and the Amphitheater, over Route 690.

The controversial state fair gondola project will not be shuttling concert and fair-goers between the Lakeview Amphitheater and the fairgrounds by 2018 as originally thought.

"The gondola will just have to wait for a future phase," said County Executive Joanie Mahoney, R-Onondaga, during an interview Friday. "We hope to go back to the state legislature during the next budget process to get the funding for it."

However, $15 million was approved for an aerial gondola in this year's state budget. So what happened?

Another project aimed at turning the New York State Fairgrounds into a year round facility took precedence, according to Mahoney who served on the fair advisory task force. A site near the midway is being prepared for a new year round $35 million dollar expo center, also approved in the budget.

"It was determined that the size of the building that would be necessary to attract the equine shows and the things that we were thinking would attract a year-round experience at the fair, that building would have to be bigger than the task force originally thought it would," said Mahoney. "As a result the price tag would have to be increased. We couldn't do both that and the gondola."

However State Senator John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, who also served on the task force wholeheartedly disagrees with that assessment.

"When the outcry got so large, all of a sudden there is talk by the county executive is that we might not do it because it costs too much," said DeFrancisco. "Well baloney! The plan was to get it done, by the governor and the governor alone."

DeFrancisco believes it was the public opposition that squashed the project.

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