Face it: Some Neighborhoods are Never Going to Improve

It’s been difficult writing positive information about a city from an armpit of a junkyard, but somehow when it came to the Syracuse Surge, I was all in. Optimistic that the city of Syracuse would finally turn the corner regarding neighborhood quality-of-life issues and economic development. And to the mayor’s credit, things have turned around, but like nibbling on the edge of a cookie, they’ve never takin a bite out of the quality-of-life issue. If you’re poor or live in a borderline community, your quality of life has not improved under this administration.  In some cases, your quality of life has gotten worse.

Mayor Ben Walsh

As there’s a loose Pitbull from the neighborhood junk yard that walks off leash and has had multiple appearances at my front door barking. I place my puppy in the car and take him into Tipp Hill or Onondaga Lake Park to walk, as it’s not safe when dogs off leash are standing at your property. I’m seriously considering rehoming my dog to a place where he can exist without fear. This neighborhood at times is not even fit for a dog. Opportunity, Growth, Peace, Love and Joy; whatever the mantra is coming out of City Hall, doesn’t work for some neighborhoods. I’ve known people who’ve invested in Syracuse’s troubled neighborhoods, lived, and died while waiting for change to come. Would they have done better at the Turning Stone?

I had great hope for this administration even as detractors accused me of believing in, “the great white hope” to save Syracuse. I’ve fought for years to prove them wrong. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult as I age in place. I was 50 when I purchased this house, today I turn 65 logging 15 years of witnessed deterioration while millions are invested within yards of my home and yet my little area has been allowed to become a breeding ground for rats, feral cats, and future stars of “Hoarders: Buried Alive”.

Some people have said over the past 15 years, “you should just move!” Why move when there are rules that are supposed to govern land use policy? Or as Langston Hughes so eloquently put it. What happens to A Dream Deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore
And then run
Does it smell like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load
Or does it explode?   

North Lowell – Rann Ave. side

Vast pockets of blight, areas of benign neglect will lead Syracuse and Onondaga County into a future where wealthy people will pour into new redefined neighborhoods. And then, there will be those trapped in designated communities, so plagued by bad conditions the inhabitant homeowners can’t afford to leave. Their children are then impacted by our city’s lack of life’s abundant qualities, of simply being able to live in a peaceful community. A place where codes are enforced, not just for a moment but as a method of making sure that our quality of life is evenly distributed. We have fixable general conditions of despair and yet, activists, city officials, civil rights “leaders” remain silent. And then officials expect excellence to emerge from this municipal mosh pit.

I truly don’t believe this city, or this administration is capable of handling quality of life issues. It’s more than just the landlord’s, there are properties that appear to have self-governing rights like Florida’s Walt Disney World, no municipal oversight.  I’ve been told for at least a decade by people living in Dewitt that this situation in Syracuse will never be remedied as there are protected individuals, and companies.  And summarily scolded when I’ve mentioned it to city officials at the highest level.

Now to the People’s City Court

North Lowell – Rann Ave. side

I appeared in court to witness what was submitted to Judge Tadros regarding the property on North Lowell Ave. to my surprise, despite an order from the Judge to inspect the property, nothing was done. I was allowed to witness the proceedings, however there was no word regarding an outcome. What I did witness was a lawyer that presented to court, a property that had multiple unregistered vehicles on the property, testified that there were “none”. He then apparently lied again, stating that all that was out of order was a few pieces of paper. There was no challenge from the city, “No comment” from the city attorney on what was obviously a bold-faced lie, that went unchallenged. Were there pictures? Was there evidence of how many citations that have gone unanswered? Where were the photos of the multiple vehicles and tents full of hoarded materials that only grows by the day?

Hopeful about the outcome I waited for what I thought was going to be action to clean up the property. And did I wait, and wait, and wait. When I approached the city regarding the issue, I was told the city “Attorney handling the case no longer works for the city”, I was then directed to back to Judge Tadros.

And We Wonder Why?

And we wonder why there are issues such as the Skyline Apartments along with hundreds of apartments in the city of Syracuse that are uninhabitable.  Collected trash in lots so prominent they appear on satellite imagery.

And we wonder why, children as young as 8-years-old feel emboldened enough to steal, or a 12-year-old misguided enough to rob a woman at Destiny USA.

Police and leaders flip into high gear to protect our city’s “money pots” of Armory Square and Destiny USA, while the rest of us cower and seek shelter before dark. This whole, “Quality of Life” rhetoric is beginning to smell like the sewage that filled my neighbors home due to a collapsed sewer.