To Syracuse's new mayor

As Stephanie Miner takes office, community leaders expect her to do more to address the environment and development.

For a better and greener Syracuse, people expect the new mayor Stephanie Miner to make important decisions in projects related to sustainability and the environment during her term.

“I think the character of her leadership will be very different than the past few mayors,” said Deb Warner, vice president for public policy and government relations in Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.

Photo: Jenna Ketchmark
Stephanie Miner became Syracuse's mayor on Jan. 1.

Miner, who took office Jan. 1, won 50 percent of the vote in November’s election to become the first-ever woman mayor in Syracuse.

Warner said Syracuse has been focusing on greener environment and technology since last Mayor Matt Driscoll announced Syracuse as “the emerald city.” Many of those projects are still working, and people hope Miner can continue the effort, she said.

One of the biggest concerns is the rebuilding of Interstate 81. The high traffic on I-81 passing through the city’s downtown causes serious air pollution, said Howie Hawkins of the Green Party in Syracuse.

“She has to think about closing I-81, either replacing it or finding another way to run traffic through around the city,” Hawkins said.

However, as to I-81, Warner said air pollution is not so much an issue. The problem is I-81’s coming through downtown makes a physical barrier between Syracuse University and the downtown area, which influences the downtown’s prosperity, she said.

“Within the next 10 years, I-81 should be rebuilt, so it’s up to the community to come up with a decision of what we want,” she said. “Stephanie (Miner) will be the lead person responsible for determining what the final recommendation from the community is.”

Warner said another important infrastructure is the surroundings of Onondaga Creek. It flows from the southern end of the city to the north into the Onondaga Lake. It got potential to become a recreational area attractive to both locals and tourists, she said.

“It’s a recreational and quality of life asset, which still has its economic impact,” she said. “So it’s important for our mayor to really get something moving and get the work done.”

John Elmer, lead pastor of Syracuse’s Vineyard Church, also expects Onondaga creek can become a relaxing area for locals.

“It will be a nice way to get people outdoors and move around downtown if they bring the creek walk all the way out Armory Square,” he said.

People in Syracuse also hope Miner can balance the development of certain communities, especially the Near-Westside area, Elmer said.

“It has a lot of potential, and it’s a great location being so close to downtown,” he said. “I would really like to see more green houses get developed there.”

The renovation plan for Blodgett K-8 School, located in the Near-Westside, is also a controversial issue for Miner to improve, Warner said.

‎“Whether or not to restore it, there is a lot of pressure to get a commitment for it to be renovated,” she said. “I hope she can do the best for it, and I believe the city’s School District should have some serious discussion for her to understand the whole situation.”

Other than the care about environment, Warner said it is important that Miner has a lot of conversations with business people and really understands what their daily life is. That will give her a different perspective when she makes decisions, she said.

“I think she’s been working hard in the campaign listening and making a lot of plans, so I believe she’s already got some good thoughts for Syracuse,” Warner said.

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