Increase Economic Investment And Neighborhood Stability

The city of Syracuse should be a place where it is easy to open a business and live in quality, safe housing. Read more about specific actions we took in 2018 to improve how we attract economic investments to our city and stabilize our neighborhoods:

New Police Chiefs • Body-Worn Camera Program • Police and Fire Cadet Classes • Poverty Analysis • Housing Stability • Lead Funding • Parks Facilities Improvements • Summer Youth Jobs • Syracuse Build • Financial Empowerment Center • Bureau of Administrative Adjudication • Adopt-a-Block • Sledding • Investor Summit • Hire Ground • South Ave Study • Community Grid Engagement • E-Permitting • Permits • Fire Permitting • SIDA Support for Development Projects • Brownfield Redevelopment • SEDCO Loans • Restore NY Funding 5

New Police Chiefs

Following an eight-month search process and extensive input from the community and key stakeholders, Mayor Walsh named Kenton Buckner as the next chief of police of the city of Syracuse. Buckner took over leadership of the Syracuse Police Department in December 2018.

Mayor Walsh selected Chief Buckner after consulting with a search committee and group of community stakeholders consisting of nearly 20 people who all met with the finalist candidates.

Prior to seeking candidates, the City conducted an extensive public engagement process that included 10 community and neighborhood meetings, over 700 individual survey responses, and meetings with 36 stakeholders in law enforcement, government, and nonprofit organizations.

In January 2018, Mayor Walsh and then Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler promoted Captain Laynette DelFavero to Deputy Chief of the Uniform Bureau, Sergeant Derek McGork to Deputy Chief of the Investigation Bureau, and Captain Rich Shoff to the Deputy Chief of Community Policing. 

Body-Worn Camera Program

The Syracuse Police Department rolled out an expanded implementation of its body-worn camera (BWC) program in October 2018. The first year is a one-year free trial which provides the police department with 110 cameras and supporting technology.

Training for the program began with a cohort of 15 officers. Additional officers have been trained and incorporated into the program in groups of 15. The department also developed a formal policy for the program, which was released to the public for comment prior to the start of the expansion in October.

The City’s body-worn camera program has received funding from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood; Congressman Katko, and U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand; and former New York State Senator David Valesky, 53rd District.

Police and Fire Cadet Classes

The Syracuse Fire Department graduated a class of 26 recruit firefighters in October 2018 and the Syracuse Police Department graduated a class of 32 officers in January 2019.

Poverty Analysis

The city of Syracuse began an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) data on poverty in Syracuse after its release in September 2018. The City’s analysis, authorized by Mayor Walsh and completed by analysts in the city’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development and the Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation, focused on determining areas where Syracuse underperforms compared to peer cities and where the City can work to have the most impact.


The analysis identified five key barriers to progress that appear to be affecting Syracuse more negatively than other Upstate cities, including: workforce participation, educational attainment, housing stability, transportation, and internet access.

Housing Stability

Housing instability refers to the high frequency of forced moves that residents endure. Many of these moves are forced by poor housing quality, unstable neighborhood conditions, and high costs of housing in relation to income. All of these conditions can contribute to doubling up and overcrowding in housing units, chronic homelessness, and a high rate of unplanned residential mobility. Frequent forced moves have damaging financial and health impacts on our residents and neighborhoods, especially on our school-aged children. This year, city departments developed and implemented a number of initiatives to address housing instability in Syracuse.

The Division of Code Enforcement and the Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation (api) created an expansion plan for the Tenant Owner Proactive (TOP) pilot. This pilot emphasizes relationships with both tenants and property owners, and created a more proactive way of doing code enforcement. It will be expanded citywide in the first quarter of 2019. Code Enforcement and APi also worked together to pilot a Proactive Rental Registry Inspection program, where inspections were proactively scheduled by Code Enforcement for rental registry applicants. The pilot was successful and will be expanded in 2019.

The City also acquired tablets for all Code Enforcement officers. They can now perform more work and have more data available in the field to automatically upload photos, check property ownership and history, and prepare citations.

Neighborhood and Business Development (NBD) administered more than $5.5 million in housing preservation, homeless prevention, and community service programming, impacting the lives of over 10,500 residents in the city. NBD also piloted an eviction prevention initiative and “early warning system” to better connect low-income renters at risk of eviction with connections to supportive services, legal assistance, repayment plans, and other options to avoid forced mobility/instability.

Lead Funding

The City recaptured $4.1 million in federal HUD funding to combat the ongoing threat of lead throughout the city’s homes, with support from Congressman John Katko and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Of the federal funding, $3.5 million will be used for remediation of lead paint hazards (testing will determine where hazards are in each home; hazards will be remedied and a lead clearance test will be performed) and $600,000 will be used for Healthy Homes Supplement (other home health hazards, i.e. trip and fall, air quality, asbestos, mold, etc.). The City is partnering with Onondaga County Community Development on administering this grant.

Parks Facilities Improvements

The Department of Parks, Recreation, and Youth Programs made significant upgrades to several of its facilities, including: a new playground at Lower Onondaga Park, improvements to the gymnasium at the Armond J. Magnarelli Community Center in McChesney Park, and Imagination Playground equipment unveiled at Kirk Park Community Center.

Funding for the Lower Onondaga playground was administered by Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter. Funding for the improvements at the Armond J. Magnarelli Center was secured by New York State Assemblyman William Magnarelli. The Imagination Playground equipment was provided by UnitedHealthcare and national non-profit KaBOOM!.

Summer Youth Jobs

The city of Syracuse, Onondaga County, and New York State collaborated with CNY Works, On Point for College, and PEACE, Inc. to coordinate a six-week summer youth employment program. The program placed approximately 1,077 students in positions with public, private, and nonprofit sector partners.

Syracuse Build

Announced in the Mayor’s 2018 State of the City address, the city began development of the Syracuse Build program in 2018. Syracuse Build will connect capable Syracuse-based job seekers with city and regional employment opportunities on construction development projects that exist today and that result from the Interstate 81 project. The city of Syracuse, Onondaga County, and Syracuse University committed to be the initial “Anchor Project Partners” in Syracuse Build.

The collaborative program is inspired by the successful “City Build” initiative in San Francisco (and other best practice models). Through Syracuse Build, the city of Syracuse and participating partners will incentivize developers and contractors to hire from the local community, while helping create a strong pipeline of qualified workers that can meet the workforce needs.

Financial Empowerment Center

The City took steps to implement the Syracuse Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), which will increase financial stability and independence by developing access to quality, professional, free, 1-on-1, financial counseling and making it available to all residents of Syracuse. The FEC is made possible through partnership with many nonprofit, local government, and philanthropic organizations.

Bureau of Administrative Adjudication

The City began implementation of the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA) – ticketing for code and zoning violations – which will increase accountability and compliance to provide more stable, higher quality rental homes for families. The Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation worked with the Director of the BAA to determine and set process, policies, and procedures, and to help identify software solutions the BAA can use. The city of Syracuse Industrial Development Agency will be fully funding the BAA in 2018 and 2019 at no cost to City taxpayers.

Adopt-a-Block

Mayor Walsh launched the Clean-Up ‘Cuse Adopt-a-Block trash and litter pickup program in May 2018. The program recruits and coordinates organizations, businesses, school groups, and individuals to conduct trash and litter cleanups of at least two blocks on a year-round basis.

The Clean-Up ‘Cuse Adopt-a-Block program supports Onondaga County’s efforts to keep litter out of sewer systems and ultimately Onondaga Lake. Former County Executive Joanie Mahoney announced the Save the Rain & Connect the Drops program as part of an initiative between the county and OCRRA, which promotes the reduction of litter in the county and specifically aims to block trash from entering the community’s waterways.

Sledding

In March 2018, the Mayor designated the City’s first sledding site at Burnet Park. He identified a second location at Sunnycrest Park in December 2018.

Investor Summit

The City hosted an Investor Summit to detail financing strategies, city resources, and investment priorities for development of city-owned or city-controlled sites and how to align proposals and projects with the mayor’s vision for the city. Representatives from more than 50 firms attended. In June 2018, the City issued an RFP looking for developers and financiers, with New York State experience, in mixed-income, market rate, and/or mixed-use developments.

Hire Ground

In December 2018, Mayor Walsh and County Executive McMahon announced a joint initiative to bring workforce development opportunities to individuals who have had extreme difficulty overcoming barriers to employment and finding permanent housing. The pilot program, called “Hire Ground Workforce Development”, will offer work experience and connections to needed services for homeless persons who panhandle and those that are difficult to reach and serve in the Syracuse community.

South Ave Study

In July 2018, the City released a seven-month study into the economic viability of the South Avenue Corridor. The study was a baseline assessment of demographics, commuting patterns, housing, and retail along 1.5 miles of the South Avenue corridor. It garnered the input of over 200 community members on what they’d like to see and what is feasible along one of the city’s most highly visible corridors.

The collaborative working group included the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA), Jubilee Homes of Syracuse, Inc., Syracuse Community Connections, Inc., Home HeadQuarters, Inc., CenterState CEO, the Allyn Family Foundation, and others. The South Ave Study was fully funded by the city of Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA).

Community Grid Engagement

In 2018, the City actively engaged in the process to select an alternative for the I-81 Viaduct project with a clear message: there is an option that is ideal for both the city and the entire region. The Community Grid offers the ability to transform the city of Syracuse and the region.

The City encourages the community to review the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the 81 Viaduct, once it is released by the State DOT. The DEIS will deliver much needed facts and data each of the alternatives. The City urges residents to participate in the public input process.

E-Permitting

The Central Permit Office was restructured to decrease time for permit approvals. A vendor was selected for electronic permitting (E-permits) for non-reviewable permit applications, starting with electric and HVAC. This will reduce time staff spend to prepare these permits and will give staff more time to concentrate on reviewable permits. The E-permit hardware is being installed in January 2019.

Permits

In 2018, the City issued 3,800 permits, representing approximately $175 million of new investment.

Fire Permits

In December 2018, the Fire Department entered into a 3-year agreement with Brycer, LLC for the provision of The Compliance Engine (TCE). TCE is a simple, internet based tool for the Fire Prevention Bureau to track and drive code compliance, reduce false alarm activity, and provide a safer community.

The end result is a comprehensive and accurate aggregation of data around which buildings have what types of systems, when they were last tested, and if there are any open deficiencies that could jeopardize their successful deployment in the event of an incident. With The Compliance Engine, our Fire Prevention Bureau will be better equipped in their mission to drive 100% code compliance with life safety laws.

SIDA Support for Development Projects

The city of Syracuse’s Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) provided support for more than a dozen projects, including the expansion of TCG player’s downtown headquarters and the relocation of Gerharz Restaurant Equpiment into the city.

In addition, growing tech companies found homes in buildings that have recently been renovated with the assistance of the city of Syracuse’s Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) along the City’s growing tech corridor on Warren Street including: TCG player (the Galleries, 300+ jobs), Plowz + Mowz (AXA Tower, 30 new jobs), Sidearm Sports (State Tower Building, 120 full and part time employees), and Docupet (Tech Garden, 8 jobs).

Brownfield Redevelopment

The City identified best practices for brownfield redevelopment opportunities, and approved two brownfield lien sale transactions to turn a dilapidated carwash on Sout Salina Street into a new small business and expand a neighborhood youth programming facility at 301 S Geddes. Both projects put property along major commercial corridors into productive use.

SEDCO Loans

SEDCO, the City’s revolving loan fund, lent over $1.1 million dollars to 10 projects leveraging $2.7m in total project investments. Projects included the new Water Street Bagel Company downtown, Peak’s Coffee cafe on the near eastside, and Industrial Tire’s expansion on the Northside. In addition, SEDCO participated in a $600,000 Small Business Administration loan with the National Development Council’s Grow Syracuse Fund for the relocation and expansion of Interior Innovations, a state certified WBE on East Genesee Street.

Restore NY Funding

Syracuse was awarded a $5 million grant from Empire State Development’s RestoreNY program. The goal of the Restore NY grant is to return blighted and underperforming properties to productive  use in order to strengthen neighborhoods and commercial corridors. The $5 million grant is focused on proving critical gap funding for the renovation or redevelopment of 17 properties along James, North Salina, Butternut, and Lodi streets.

Restore NY Funding