Urban CNY’s recent opinion column on the Blueprint 15 initiative is, clearly, honest and well-intended. After meeting with Urban CNY directly today, we appreciate this opportunity to address certain statements in the column regarding the project partners, community engagement so far and the very early status of the vision.
First, the column stated that meetings by elected and non-elected stakeholders thus far have been “to bring this plan to fruition.” Blueprint 15 is actually only its earliest stages. There is no plan that has been proposed. We haven’t shown any drawings or architectural renderings, because they don’t yet exist. For two years, the partners of Blueprint 15 have been talking to people, including residents, to propose a new vision for this neighborhood. Conversations to date have been about a concept, and now a partnership, to strengthen the community.
Second, the column reported that, “Allyn Foundation alone is sequestering information.” Respectfully, we disagree. The Syracuse Housing Authority (SHA) has been talking about the East Adams neighborhood for many years. What has transpired in the past two years is the realization and acknowledgement by the commissioners of SHA that a larger vision for the neighborhood in which people have opportunities requires partners. Blueprint 15 is the community organization that will help SHA achieve this vision.
Public housing faces severe challenges. HUD is providing no new money to fix properties. Pioneer Homes was built over 80 years ago and HUD is not going to give money to rebuild public housing. The SHA’s mission is to provide affordable housing, and its intention is to always own the land on which any new housing is built. That ensures permanent affordability in this neighborhood. It doesn’t mean, however, that it has to be all low-income. Mixed-income housing provides more opportunities for individuals and children to thrive.
Finally, this is not “the Allyn Foundation’s Blueprint 315* project,” as the column states. What was announced is the formation of a new entity called Blueprint 15. It has a Blueprint 15 Board of Directors of diverse community members and respected partners, including representatives from the SHA (two commissioners along with SHA Executive Bill Simmons), two residents (selected by the tenant association), and County and City representatives. I serve as co-chair along with Syracuse Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens.
We know that our community has a history of, at times, not being inclusive. Our desire is to learn from past practices. Displacement of current residents is in no way a goal or acceptable outcome. Rather, our goal is to create a healthier and stronger neighborhood for those who live their today and others who will be drawn to live there. Change is and will come to this neighborhood because of I81. People have been traumatized by past decisions about this neighborhood. Let’s not do that again.
The planning starts soon. SHA and Blueprint 15 released an RFP for a Master Developer who will start the planning process in late spring. The next step requires community engagement; we urge everyone to participate. No final decisions will be made and no projects undertaken until the full community engagement phase is complete.
Please give Blueprint 15 a chance. Hold us accountable, but let’s all try to come together to create better opportunities for people.
Allyn Family Foundation
*Since information was transcribed from a source that initially had Blueprint315 once discovered, that was changed to reflect the correct project name.
Blueprint 15 Board of Directors
- Meg O’Connell, co-chair, Executive Director, Allyn Family Foundation
- Sharon Owens, co-chair, Deputy Mayor, City of Syracuse
- Jaime Alicea, Superintendent, Syracuse City School District
- Latoya Allen, Common Councilor, 4th District
- Michael Collins, Executive Director, NSCC, SHA Commissioner
- Bob Corona, MD, President & CEO, SUNY Upstate Medical Hospital
- Calvin Corriders, Regional President, PathFinder Bank
- Bea Gonzalez, Vice President, Syracuse University Community Engagement
- Mark Hall, Interim President & CEO, Syracuse Community Health Center
- Helen Hudson, President, Syracuse Common Council
- Melanie Littlejohn, Regional Executive, National Grid
- Robert Mike, Resident Advisor, Syracuse Housing Authority
- Stephanie Pasquale, Commissioner, Neigh & Business Dev., City of Syracuse
- Tim Penix, Vice President, SUNY Educational Opportunity Center
- Ann Rooney, Deputy County Executive, Onondaga County
- Bill Simmons, Executive Director, Syracuse Housing Authority
- Rob Simpson, President & CEO, CenterState CEO
- Wayne Sistrunk, representing Tucker Baptist Church
- Supreena Smalls, Resident Advisor, Syracuse Housing Authority
- Gladys Smith, Commissioner, Syracuse Housing Authority
- Randy White, Outreach Specialist, Syracuse Cure Violence (SNUG)
Purpose Built Communities
Carol Naughton, President
Damon Bailey, Community Development Advisor