Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A City Success: Syracuse Creekwalk Opens

A City Success: Syracuse Creekwalk Opens
by Samuel D. Gruber (all photos copyright Samuel D. Gruber)

Its been about 20 years in the making, but a continuous Creekwalk route from Armory Square to Onondaga Lake opened two weeks ago to the relief and delight of area residents - eager to take advantage of this new urban walking a bike route while the beautiful fall weather is still with us.

My wife and I walked it last Saturday - and here are some photos:

click image for larger format slide show

While this does not put Syracuse on par with cities like Philadelphia (Fairmount Park with all sorts of walks and trails), Washington (Rock Creek Park) or New York (Riverside Park and now the extraordinary new High Line), it does link us to cities like San Antonio and Milwaukee that have used downtown waterways to provide a new urban look and a new pedestrian experience. While we have many fine walking trails in the region, there just is nothing else like the Creekwalk in the city. I can see that it will be a great resource for residents, but will also attract many outsiders because of the great variety of the route. Tired of Onondaga Park? Come try the Creekwalk. There is good dose of nature, but there is also a fine mix of old and new buildings, often seen from unusual and unexpected angles. Kids and adults will enjoy the new Dragon sculpture by Armory Square, but look to at the attractive 1991 mural by sculptor William Severson - blasted into the Allen Building's brick about halfway along the trail.

It is great to see a project completed in Syracuse - where vision becomes reality. All who struggled to get this project done are to be commended. As a case study - I'd love to have someone in the know outline all the phases of the project, and where the funds have come from. Who has paid for this? City operations budgets, funded by taxpayer dollars? Special fees or PILOT funds? Was there county, state and federal money? Private sponsorship?

This is just Phase I of an ambitious (and still unfunded) project that will bring the walk all the way south to Kirk Park. In the spirit of the great WPA-sponsored public works projects that brought us much of our modern (local, state and national) park systems, this would be a great use of (more!) stimulus money. Rather than extend our infrastructure with more incursion into rural areas we need to invest in our existing settled communities and upgrade and improve our urban infrastructure. That is the best recipe for jobs creation where they are most needed, and the stimulation of green sustainable economic and civic growth for the 21st century.

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