Syracuse

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Symphoria, a cooperative orchestra in central New York where the musicians are the owners, announced its new 2015-16 season. And, with the upcoming season, Symphoria's new music director is focused on making the orchestra more accessible to the public.

As orchestras in major cities across the country experience declining ticket sales, Syracuse's Symphoria is ahead of track on their subscription sales for next season. Larry Loh, who will officially begin as the music director of Symphoria this fall, admits growing an audience for the orchestra is challenging.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A new program starts in Syracuse this weekend that’s meant to help people overcome one of the biggest impediments to finding work in central New York: transportation. 

It often isn’t so easy getting a job in central New York if you don’t have a car or access to public transportation. Providence Services of Syracuse President Deborah Hundley says the problems come at workplaces that are beyond the bus line, or shifts that begin or end when buses aren’t running.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse's Upstate Medical University is taking a research project into the community, which will focus on older, frail adults.

Dr. Sharon Brangman, chief of geriatric medicine, says usually researchers start out with a thesis and then try to prove it. Armed with a $15,000 federal grant, they’ll work the other way around on this.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The New York State Fair began public meetings on Wednesday to discuss how it will spend $50 million in state funds to renovate the fairgrounds. So far, proposals for the renovations would require tearing down a piece of Syracuse history.

At stake is about 70 acres of land where the Grandstand at the New York State Fairgrounds currently sits.

County Executive Joanie Mahoney unveiled a plan back in March to replace the Grandstand and the oval-shaped Moody Mile dirt race track that surrounds it with an equestrian park, multi-use indoor ice complex and new RV park.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some much needed affordable rental units will be coming to the Salina Street corridor in Syracuse, as part of the Salina Crossing project. Ground has been broken on the biggest site, a new mixed-use building on property that once was home to the crumbling Otisca Building on the city’s north side.  

Ben Lockwood, vice president of Housing Visions, the developer, says there is a big need for this kind of housing.

Michael / via Flickr

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration’s plan to add extra charges on some homeowner’s tax bills for ornamental streetlights in the city of Syracuse has been put on hold.

The idea for these charges is to let people who in what's called "special lighting districts" to cover more of the $1.9 million bill National Grid sends every year to the city. Presently, Syracuse collects $220,000 from homeowners in the special lighting districts, and the rest comes out of the general fund.

10 interesting figures from Syracuse's annual budget

Apr 27, 2015
Daniel Lobo / via Flickr

A city budget is typically pretty cut and dry, but Syracuse’s annual spending plan can also offer some context for just how big the city is. And so like a budget, this story is all about numbers.

Here are some interesting figures pulled from Syracuse's proposed budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

A Tiny Home for Good

Some very small homes are coming soon to Syracuse’s South Side.

These homes will be small, just a few hundred square feet. Three of them will be able to fit onto a single property lot. But it’s not a way to cope with urban congestion like in some bigger cities, Syracuse doesn’t have that problem. But it does face a shortage of affordable housing.

A Tiny Home for Good and local housing charity Operation Northern Comfort are getting ready to break ground on their first three tiny homes this spring.

The quiet councilor: Chad Ryan's style in city hall

Apr 15, 2015
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse city councilor Chad Ryan has served in the chamber for a fraction of the time as some of peers but he’s also asked a fraction of the questions, in public at least.

Councilor Chad Ryan sits at the end of the table during council study sessions or committee meetings, he’ll often wave off his chance to ask a question. It’s not shyness, he says in an interview, but maybe a little humility.

"I guess I wouldn’t say I’m shy," he said. "Certainly tentative about what you say in the chambers."

Jake Gamage / WRVO

There were nearly 50 accidents involving Syracuse public works vehicles this past winter, mostly for minor mishaps.

Despite the difficult weather conditions for much of this winter, the number of accidents for public works crews in the city of Syracuse declined from the winter before.

Michael / via Flickr

Syracuse residents say the way the city is proposing to update billing for ornamental street lights goes way beyond just nickel and diming taxpayers.

After decades of not collecting fees or updating billing on more than a hundred special lighting districts, Syracuse is trying to update its regulation of ornamental street lights, but it means bills for thousands of city resident could skyrocket.

Ellen Abbott

Bicycle commuters in Syracuse are hoping that the next roadway that’s revamped with bike infrastructure is Euclid Avenue.

Michael / via Flickr

The ornate metal street lamps that line downtown or some Syracuse city streets aren’t free to keep on. Property owners are supposed to pay the electric bill, but for decades the city has been. Now, city hall wants to change that.

Business districts and neighborhoods in Syracuse that have upgraded or ornamental street lights are in what the city calls "special lighting districts." Problem is, many of them were put in place decades ago and the city either hasn’t been fully collecting those fees, or hasn’t increased them in decades either.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named former Syracuse Mayor Matthew Driscoll as New York’s next commissioner of the Department of Transportation.

This announcement comes as the DOT is trying to narrow down possible options to replace the aging viaduct portion of Interstate-81 that goes through downtown Syracuse.

The decision over whether to keep the route through downtown or to divert traffic around Syracuse has been controversial.

Current Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said it's always helpful to know people in positions of authority when decisions like this are being made.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has released what she calls a good, strong budget to the Common Council. The spending plan shows a city that’s emerging from years of fiscal uncertainty. 

The $674 million spending plan won’t raise taxes or water or sewer rates. There are no layoffs of city employees; and there’s increased revenue from building permits, parking garages and meters. There is still a $9 million deficit. But that pales in comparison to the numbers the mayor was throwing around a few years ago, when she suggested the city could go broke. 

A youth jobs and high school completion program in Syracuse will be able to continue thanks to a grant in this year’s state budget.

Jubilee Homes has previously been able to run its Youth Build and high school equivalency diploma program with federal grants, but Jubilee’s director Walt Dixie says those dollars have been drying up.

Youth Build is a nationwide program that teaches teens construction job skills; but half of the programs across the country have been defunded.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

More information about Interstate 81’s future in downtown Syracuse should be available in the next few days, as state transportation officials will release a new study on the options for the elevated roadway.

How is the Syracuse region doing with the vitality of its wildlife and the health of its outdoor sports industries?  Has the winter had an impact?  And what can be done about the city's growing problem with deer?  On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher explores those questions with David Figura, the outdoors writer for The Post-Standard and syracuse.com.  They also discuss life for sportspersons post-SAFE Act, and Figura's new book about men dealing with middle age, 

City of Syracuse / Facebook

As budget discussions in Albany rumble towards a conclusion, supporters of the Rebuild New York Now coalition are pressing their case, that surplus money in the state budget should fix roads and bridges and water systems across the state.  

Trying to interrupt crime before it happens

Mar 24, 2015
Derek Bridges / via Flickr

By using people with firsthand knowledge of guns and gangs, a program is trying to interrupt violence on Syracuse’s streets.

The national Cure Violence program was created by a former public health doctor and so it’s modeled off of treating infectious disease: you have to treat the cause of the illness, not just the symptoms.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Cyclists in the Syracuse University area have had it with the shutdown of a portion of some bike infrastructure. It was closed due to a lawsuit between Syracuse University and the potential builder of a bookstore on University Avenue.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sumitra and Maniran Paudel arrived in Syracuse from a refugee camp in Nepal in 2008, some of the first Bhutanese refugees to resettle on the city’s north side.

"When we came here the first time, we had a big dream," Maniran said.

Carlet Cleare / WXXI (file photo)

A Syracuse lawmaker has finally won over the support of his colleagues to toughen city laws on snow removal.

Common Councilor Bob Dougherty had a visible grin on his face when two ordinances he had sponsored were unanimously approved by the council.

"Knock me over with a feather," he said. Earlier bills never came close to passing and he didn’t think his third try would sail through.

Dougherty has made sidewalk snow removal the focal point of his time on the council. Previous attempts to fine property owners who didn’t shovel were shot down.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County is turning to technology to try and cut back the lines for people waiting for help in the Department of Social Services. The county is the first in the state to install kiosks to divert some of the need for visits to case workers.

Last December, the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse hired a new executive director, Elizabeth Dunbar.  She inherited a difficult financial situation, and has been serving double duty as the museum's temporary curator.  Host Grant Reeher engages her in a discussion of the challenges facing the museum, her strategies for renewed financial and artistic vibrancy, and the cultural function of an art museum in a small city. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse’s mayor says the state government is reversing a long tradition of supporting infrastructure investments in its cities.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner told the Thursday Morning Roundtable that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reluctance to help Syracuse rebuild its water main system is “completely and totally at odds with New York state’s history.”

oliver_hine / via Flickr

A sharply divided city argues over whether to keep a major transit link running through downtown, or to route it around the outskirts of town.

It’s nearly the same debate going on today, but this was in the 1920s. Then, Syracuse was arguing over whether to build an elevated rail corridor through downtown, as Dennis Connors, curator of the Onondaga Historical Association explains.

"And there was a whole campaign, the pro-leave it downtown and elevate it, versus the move it out of downtown and put it around the north side of the city," he said.

If kids spend a lot of time in front of display screens, is it bad for the environment?  Having a visceral connection to the outdoors is key to good environmental stewardship, argues this week’s guest on the Campbell Conversations.  Grant Reeher talks about habitat, species, and politics with Collin O’Mara, the current President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. O’Mara is a former Delaware state cabinet official, a native of Camillus, New York, and the inventor of the City of Syracuse’s Syrastat system. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will again be able to weigh in on the decision about the future of Interstate 81. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon will ask lawmakers to stand behind the option he believes is the best compromise among the plans being discussed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Syracuse school district could be down a million dollars because of an unintended consequence of vacant properties being sold to the land bank.

Property tax collection is a major source of funding for public schools, but there are thousands of properties in Syracuse that the property taxes aren’t being collected on – either because they’re vacant or the owner isn’t paying. For those properties, the city has been covering the portion that would go to schools out of its own pocket.

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