Tag Archives: cities

Biking near Syracuse… or Rochester

What’s wrong with this first picture? Google maps has a nifty function now by which you can easily see the locations of dedicated bike paths, such as canal or rail trails (dark green), bike lanes in streets (light green), and recommended streets for bike travel (dotted green). In searching out bike paths in the Central New York area, here’s the picture I got:

Okay, so we basically have Onondaga Lake Park and the Old Erie Canal trails, except not in the city itself. You can get from Fayetteville to Rome but you can’t get from Fayetteville to Camillus on a bike.

That’s not to say people haven’t been working on this. The Syracuse New Times published a great article loaded with information on all that’s being done in the area. But, to date, the results are sketchy at best. Compare the above map with the same view of Rochester:

Yikes! Well, at least we have The Dome, where we can go sit on our derrières and watch other people exercise.

I went looking for suggestions on what to do about this. My first stop was the SMTC Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. Uh-oh. The website was last updated in 2005. Why is it still sitting there, and what’s going on with it?

Then I found the more current Onondaga Cycling Club’s Advocacy page. This has a handy list of links. The first link, to Bike CNY, is also much more up to date, with its most recent post dated December 2, 2010. It, too, has a great list of links. Plenty of reading material for a cold February day. When you think of it, there’s a lot to get done before it’s time to drag the bikes out of the basement. We need more green on our map!

A city united through performance art

The upcoming A-OK Weekend - that’s Acts Of Kindness – is a fabulous opportunity to get to know our city better. If all we do is read about what others in other neighborhoods are doing that weekend, it’s a start. But if we go visit other neighborhoods and get to know some other people, how much better!  There are more and more fascinating things going on at the neighborhood level, and one of them I learned about recently.

A couple weeks ago, I was standing around at the Arts & Crafts Festival, dressed up like a flamenco singer, when I happened upon Dan Ward and a fellow who was introduced to me as Dennis Heaphy, of the Heaphy tinsmithing family here in Syracuse. Turns out, Dennis is three things interesting to me:

  • The resident tinsmith for the Statue of Liberty (read more)
  • A flamenco aficionado who had just been to the extremely narrow Ñ tapas bar in SoHo (so narrow, its name is only one letter long!) where he had been captivated by the same flamenco dancer, Rebeca Tomás, that we’d gotten to know the previous month.
  • The same fellow I’d been looking for to make replicas of the speaking tube whistle that neighbor Sig Snyder had given me when we discovered speaking tubes in our walls (they’re all over the city, by the way – you might have one, too, if you live on the second floor of a 2- or 3-family house!)

So a few days ago, Dennis stopped over to discuss the speaking tube. I think eventually he’ll help me put this whole thing together so it works again. But the really important thing I learned while standing out on the front porch is that he’s a singer and songwriter who loves theater and who has composed a song entitled No Matter Where You Put It© for the upcoming Tipp Hill Music Festival on Saturday, September 18.

So tell me folks, isn’t this city becoming cooler by the minute? Don’t forget, we also have the neighborhood-uniting Art In Motion Spectacular coming up on Saturday, Sept 11 at 2 pm in Armory Square.

I encourage anyone from Eastwood to visit other neighborhoods and especially their festivals. Not going to them is like never making it to Niagara Falls even though you live in Syracuse. Such a pity.

Ideas from other cities for next mayor

I posted the following over two years ago, but the ideas are good ones that the next mayor would do well to look at. They’re concerning how to deal with property owners who allow their business-district buildings to rot and bring down the values of all our properties.
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James Street is our main business district. It has a number of really super businesses on it. What happens there affects all of us, as residents, as business owners, as property owners. Those who allow their vacant buildings or lots on James St. to remain in their present ugly condition are affecting your property values. It’s time the Common Council acted more decisively to get owners to fix up these properties or sell them to someone who will develop them within the James Street Overlay District Zoning Standards.

While searching the web for what other cities are doing about vacant buildings , I came across a website simply titled “AMCBO Member Call Summary.” (AMCBO is the Association of Major City/County Building Officials.) It appears to be a summary of a meeting that took place in 2005. It’s worth a thorough read. Below I’ve pasted the ideas I found most appealing: Continue reading