Syracuse

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The business incubator that has helped spawn several businesses in downtown Syracuse is growing. The Tech Garden has had a waiting list for over two years at it's original space on Warren Street, so it's expanding -- by 18,000 square feet.

Tech Garden II, on the ground floor of AXA Tower II, opens up more opportunities for startups who can take advantage of the support and facilities offered at the Tech Garden. Dave Bulger is starting up a company called tuzag, something he says he couldn't have done without that support.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

A program to encourage healthy living in one of Syracuse’s most low income neighborhoods is getting a big funding push.

The New York State Health Foundation is giving the Lerner Center at Syracuse University a quarter million dollars to expand its healthy eating and exercise program on the city’s Near West Side. The Lerner Center is working with Nojaims Supermarket and the fairly new St. Joseph’s hospital health clinic that’s right next door.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

It takes several tries for the medical transport van to back up the snow-covered driveway and onto the frozen front yard. The tires spin in the snow, which crunches in the cold air. The van has to get close enough for the ramp that slides out the back to bridge the gap from the van to the porch, rising over the three steps to the door.

Wooden porches like this don the front of many of Syracuse’s old homes, constructed during the city’s boom era.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse Police Department will soon be using a data-driven approach to reducing gun and other violent crime.

The police department will launch a program that it says will help it better pinpoint where in the city to target crime prevention efforts, which Mayor Stephanie Miner spoke about it in her recent state of the city address.

"This data-oriented strategy will enable our officers to systematically diagnose trends in gun violence," she said.

It’s called the Problem Oriented Policing program, or POP.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner has laid out her agenda for 2015. It focuses on the fundamentals of local government and recurring themes from her.

Miner, a Democrat, is entering her fifth year in the city's top elected office. In an address at the studios of public broadcaster WCNY, she talked about the successes the city saw in 2014, such as its high school graduation rate finally rising above 50 percent. 

Then she touched on the tension within the Syracuse school district that has embroiled it for much of the past year.

ephesuslighting.com

This weekend’s Super Bowl won’t only be showcasing the NFL’s top football teams. It will also show off a new stadium lighting system that was created in Syracuse.  

  Ephesus Lighting founder Joe Casper is amazed at the publicity his company’s high-performance LED lights have been getting in the run-up to the Super Bowl. There’s been mention of the semi-conductor based technology in Forbes magazine, USA Today and the Washington Post.  And the enhanced lighting fixtures have even made their way into deflate-gate conversations.

One hundred forty central New Yorkers learned first hand what it's like to live in the grip of poverty this week. Visions for Change shined a light on the issue through it's poverty simulation.

Ashlee Hines works at the homeless shelter at the Salvation Army in Syracuse. You’d think she’d be aware of some of the issues people living in poverty face, but playing the role of a mom, going to school, working, and taking care of children was an eye opener.

"What I had to do was really hard. I kind of panicked,” Hines said. “And I know how to do day-to-day stuff.”

Creative Commons [BY-SA 3.0]

A central New York organization that tries to poke a cynical Syracuse mindset into something more positive is now two years old. The founder of the group Believe in Syracuse says they’ll be getting their message across in more ways as they continue to grow.

John DeSantis started the group two years ago when he found himself continuously watching friends leave central New York after graduating from college.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse lawmakers have gone on record calling on the New York State Department of Transportation to replace the Interstate-81 viaduct that runs through the city with a street-level boulevard. The move further defines the debate over what to do with the aging highway, which is reaching the end of its lifespan.

Common councilors have voted unanimously to support the option that would tear down I-81 and force traffic around the city, using Interstate-481.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

There will be another competition for state economic development dollars, if the state legislature approves spending $1.5 billion for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed Upstate New York Economic Revitalization Competition. At least one Central New York Economic development official is ready for the challenge.

Syracuse city council calls for I-81 to be torn down

Jan 22, 2015
Zack Seward / WXXI

The Syracuse Common Council is taking a formal stand on what should be done with the aging infrastructure of Interstate 81. The lawmakers will tell the state they want the viaduct gone.

The future of the mile and a half of elevated highway cutting through downtown has become a urban versus suburban divide. Man city residents and elected leaders say the highway is just that: a divide through the middle of the city, which blocks economic growth and isolates communities.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is encouraging certain city employees to buy tax delinquent homes that have been sold to the city.

Last year, police officers and fire fighters employed by the city, and teachers who worked for the city school district, were offered a 10 percent discount if they bought one of the land bank properties. Nobody did. So the land bank’s board has okayed raising that discount to 50 percent.

The Land Bank’s executive director Katelyn Wright says they’ll push the program more aggressively this year.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

The holidays are a time for people to travel home to be with family. A community group that works to promote Syracuse to young adults is hoping to take advantage of that.

The organization 40 Below figures most people in their 20s and 30s who are home for the holidays will be going out for drinks this weekend anyway. They want to use that to convince people to move back to central New York.

Syracuse will create an innovation team with grant

Dec 16, 2014
Daniel Lobo/flickr

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will soon have an innovation team to help develop new ways to solve city problems.

Syracuse is one of a dozen cities to win a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to create an innovation team. Miner says they’ll look at using big data to solve some of what she calls the city’s "intractable problems."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Following a die-in and demonstration on the Syracuse University campus, more than 200 protesters shut down the street in front the justice center in Syracuse last night as they marched down the hill into downtown Syracuse.
   

DJ Leln / via Flickr

Some of the hand-me-down gear the Syracuse police force has received from the Pentagon is harmless - and in fact pretty useful: First aid kits, 40 pairs of long johns, 50 pairs of winter boots, even electrical tape and bungee cords.

Don McCullough / Flickr

There are 57 fire departments is Onondaga County, which is nearly twice as many as the number of municipal governments. That’s just one example of the issues facing a task force on government consolidation. Tallying the number of government agencies is the first job.

There are 36 municipal governments in Onondaga County, from the city of Syracuse to tiny Marcellus. Each also has its own public works department. With government costs rising and population – or really, the tax base – shrinking, the county has been looking at ways to consolidate services.

The importance of urban tree cover

Nov 27, 2014
Photo Dean / via Flickr

With leaves on the ground and snow falling, trees in upstate New York are becoming dormant for the winter, but urban tree cover is still important.

As many urban areas become more populated or new buildings are constructed, urban trees are often chopped down. Most cities in the country are losing tree cover. And it has consequences.

"Trees are not just decorative. They’re infrastructure. And hence, they’re important for that reason," said Emanuel Carter, a professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse activists want events in Ferguson, Missouri to lead to more dialogue and understanding between the community and law enforcement.

They renewed those calls Tuesday afternoon with a few chants of "No justice, no peace" downtown.

It was a much more restrained affair in Syracuse than the destructive protests outside St. Louis, Missouri Monday and Tuesday.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse residents who don’t shovel sidewalks during the winter are again escaping a fine. The Common Council has again rejected a proposed fine for property owners who don’t shovel their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

There were too many concerns from councilors ahead of the vote Monday and it was defeated 7-2.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse has been able to turn a small profit after two years of deep losses, due in part because the hospital reduced its staff and increased bill collection.

The public hospital eliminated 139 positions in 2013 through attrition. It also relied a little more on contracted labor, said Stuart Wright, the hospital’s chief financial officer.

"Sometimes they can be cheaper, overall, but it’s not our overall goal to have temporary labor, but it can be slightly less expensive," he said.

CNY Fair Housing

A recent report finds Syracuse and Onondaga County suffer from “hyper-segregation,” where minorities are mostly confined to a few, low-income neighborhoods.

A practice of only placing affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods, combined with the fact that few landlords outside those blocks are willing to accept housing vouchers, has resulted in Syracuse being one of the most segregated cities in the country, according to a report by CNY Fair Housing.

"As long as we keep having this pattern reoccurring for decades and generations, we’re not going to see, really address the difficult issue of the fact that we have one of poorest communities in the country and one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country," said Sally Santangelo, executive director of CNY Fair Housing.

Poverty has long been understood to be a root cause of crime.  What's less well understood is how crime--and the criminal justice system--contribute to poverty.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher explores that dynamic with Marsha Weissman, the executive director of the Center for Community Alternatives, an organization dedicated to finding alternatives to incarceration and supporting people in the criminal justice system.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period begins Saturday. One Syracuse agency is getting ready to help people who want to sign up or make a change in their health insurance policies.

In the first year of the Affordable Care Act, ACR Health in Syracuse signed up 8,000 central New Yorkers through the New York State of Health website, and about 6,000 of those people completed their health insurance enrollment. Now it’s time for the agency to get back to work during the next open enrollment period.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Twenty-five years ago last weekend, the Berlin Wall came crashing down, a key event that led to the end of the Cold War. The anniversary is also shining a light on a piece of the historic wall that ended up in Syracuse, a fact many central New Yorkers aren’t aware of.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A rooftop garden at the top of the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center's new spinal injury wing does more than provide a nice view for visitors. It’s the site of a horticulture therapy program that the VA is hoping could spread to other hospitals in the system.

Bruce Nowakowski, 66, of Pennelville, has been in the residential unit of the VA for about a year now. He says he's got a dream.  
 

"Right now I’m trying to work on growing a giant pumpkin,” Nowakoski said.

He knows where he’s going to get the seeds, and expects to plant them in January.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York’s senior senator wants members of the military screened for mental health problems more often in an effort to stem the military’s high suicide rate.

Right now, members of the armed services are screened for mental health problems before and immediately after deployment to combat zones.

"The screenings are better than nothing and they’re an important component in the military’s efforts to lower the suicide rate," Sen. Charles Schumer said. "But it’s not enough, and it fails to address some of the mental health issues in a large group of members."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The city of Syracuse is ready to jump into a competition for more state funds meant to spark the upstate economy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to announce a competition based on the model of the Buffalo Billion.

Cuomo, during an political stop in Syracuse last month, said he’ll start talking up the program in his State of the State speech in January.

“We’re going to ask for a billion and a half dollars to bring the Buffalo Billion type program to other cities across upstate New York," Cuomo said.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

From the Habib family’s front door in their Strathmore neighborhood home, they can see Roberts Elementary School. But instead of crossing the street to school on this drizzly fall morning, six-year-old Jackson and his mom, Mary, are standing on the corner waiting for the bus.

While waiting, Mary prods Jackson to shows off the Spanish he’s learning so far in the school he chose to go to, instead of Roberts. He counts to seven, but then admits gym is actually his favorite subject.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

West side of Syracuse residents are again fighting to keep a halfway house for felons re-entering the community out of their neighborhood, saying the current facility is just fine where it is, far away.

The federal Bureau of Prisons' contract with non-profit Firetree, LTD. to operate a re-entry facility on the eastern edge of downtown Syracuse is up. Firetree, which is from Pennsylvania, has submitted a bid to have the contact to run the three-dozen bed facility renewed.

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