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Economic Development Emphasis
Cicero has seen a dramatic increase in new businesses in recent months. Over the last year I have placed an emphasis on working with businesses, with Deputy Supervisor Jessica Zambrano (who is the liaison to the Zoning and Planning Department), and with the Planning Board Chairman Bob Smith to encourage expansion and growth. There is a delicate balance between protecting the Town and cutting through the ‘red tape’ for businesses. Following is a list:
• JADAK at Hancock Airpark –45,000 square foot addition. This expansion will create 60 jobs over the next few years.
• The Cottages at Garden Grove – This Loretto project is well under way with the construction of 13 individual assisted-living homes which brings a new dimension to nursing care, adding a home atmosphere for residents.
• Hoffman Sausage Company – Distribution Center expansion / bringing administrative offices to Cicero.
• Aldi’s Plaza Renovation – the plaza located at 5962 Route 31 will see new life with the addition of an Aldi Grocery Store and Dollar Tree. Now under new ownership more improvements are expected soon.
• Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt – located on Route 11 in front of Target, this is the first Sweet Frog in Onondaga County. This new addition to Cicero has been well received.
Housing Choices Expansion
We continue to see new families and individuals moving to Cicero and there are many new housing choices. Early this year the Town Board approved a housing development near the Hamlet of Bridgeport, which at full build out will add 200 homes. A significant benefit of this unique project is that it includes 70 acres of land to be set aside as forever wild. Current and future generations alike will benefit from this designation. There is also continued construction in various developments, including the following:
• Joseph’s Landing
• Lyons Runne
• Harbor Village
• Maple Bay Townhomes
Neighborhood Cleanup Initiative
Abandoned Property Management. For years abandoned properties have been irritating eyesores in the Town of Cicero. No more. Not dealing with these properties has a negative impact on our community and we are addressing this challenging issue. Abandoned properties cause a decrease in property values for surrounding homes, invite vandalism, and are a general blight. Over the last year the Town has identified over 40 neglected structures and has marked them with placards. These signs identify the condition of a the property, which is helpful to first responders. Once identified, efforts can be made to have the property owner clean up or demolish the property and, if all other efforts have been exhausted, the Town may take the property down and put the expense on the property tax bill. This effort has proven to be successful; it will pay dividends in the future.
Codes Office Update. The town has defined a plan to manage Town Code violations. This will require adding adequate staff and procedural changes, will take place in immediate future and be within budget. Monitoring neighborhoods for code violations has been neglected for years and we can now implement an approach to this concern. We have also added a much-needed cut-and-fill permit process, bringing Cicero in line with all other Towns in the County.
Roads. Last summer the Town initiated a project for our 130 miles of Town roads through the Cornell Local Roads Program. That study showed 85% of our roads need repair and I’m pleased to report that we are on track for our initial five-year program to repair the majority of those roads. Maintaining our roads is a task that never ends and was too long neglected. The rapid growth we experienced in the last 15 years challenged us in ways we were not expecting and, unfortunately, many of our roads fell into a state of disrepair. The Cornell Roads Program, along with appropriate funding, is a welcome solution.
Five-year Vehicle Maintenance and Replacement Program. With millions of dollars worth of equipment to service the Town, a much-needed replacement program has been implemented. This program will make sure that our Highway Department has the necessary tools to repair and reconstruct roads and infrastructure as well as deal with snow removal in the winter months.
Sewers. For the first time, we now have a significant plan to manage our sewer infrastructure. This is an aging system that we do not see, yet it has been deteriorating for decades. To address this our Town Board authorized an Inter-Municipal Agreement with the County of Onondaga to maintain sewers in our community, and also to partner and develop a capital improvement plan to address possible trouble spots before emergencies dictate more costly and less convenient actions. The plan will also define areas where we can reduce the stress on our sewer system by reducing infiltration.
Community Services Enhancements
Senior Center Improvement. This summer we saw significant improvements made to our Senior Center. With a deteriorating roof and parking lot the Town Board, Parks Department and County of Onondaga partnered to make necessary improvements.
Summer Concert Series. This year we saw the Town of Cicero partner with the Cicero Chamber of Commerce to initiate three Concerts in the Bay at Williams Park. Providing such opportunities for our residents will continue to be important for our Town.
Neighborhood Safety and Security Investments
Recently, the Town has agreed and partnered with our Police Department to conclude contract negotiations which had been ongoing since 2010. The agreement is a ‘win win’ for the community. With no retroactive pay being awarded to full-time officers, the Town had the necessary tools to invest in the department by adding shifts at crucial peak hours. Going forward, the residents can be assured that we have a strong police force to keep us safe. There has also been an investment to assist with replacing our aging police vehicle fleet. Have you seen some of the new cars? We’re very proud of them; they’re more fuel efficient and economical to maintain than our prior cars.
Energy Efficiency Program. Earlier this year, the town entered into a joint project with National Grid for an energy efficiency upgrade of the town’s use of electricity and electrical lighting choices. Out-of-pocket costs were approximately $10,750 and the projected annual savings are $11,465. The projected net five-year savings are almost $50,000. We’re very pleased with the payback of this initiative and plan to continue seeking opportunities to reduce costs while maintaining or expanding services.
Codes System Upgrade. The town is in the process of replacing our antiquated codes management system with a system that will reduce paperwork and provide faster responses to the many requests for services from our Planning and Zoning Office.
Jim Corl, Supervisor