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Syracuse hopes new park spurs future area development

Ellen Abbott
Sankofa Park

There’s a new park in the city of Syracuse. The new green space is part of a long term plan to revitalize the major corridor on the city’s south side.

The Sankofa Park on South Salina Street replaces an abandoned parking lot with greenery, benches, a sandbox, and a stage. Sankofa is a word that comes from the Akan language of Ghana, which means “reach back and get it.”

Richard Breeland lives on the 2100 block of South Salina Street. Between his yellow home and the Beachamp Library sat a dusty, gray abandoned parking lot. That’s changed with the opening of the Sankofa Park.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
The Sankofa Park stage.

“Before it was just an isolated, dirty, dusty lot, that was sitting here for years. Now everyone can put it to great use. They can come and sit and relax, and play cards or play chess, and just enjoy each other,” said Breeland.

City officials are hoping the new park is a cog in the future development of the area. Common Councilor Khalid Bey says it’s part of a long term plan to bring business back to the Salina Street corridor. One of the next steps in that revitalization is to reduce crime.

“You don’t have a lot of gun violence on Salina Street,” said Bey. “You have it in other places. But it all still gets kind of thrown together into the south side. So we have to do what we can do to work with the  community and the police to reduce that number. Because if they are afraid for consumers or afraid for businesses, it could disturb the potential for investment.”

Bey says the park’s name was specifically chosen as an homage of sorts to the old 15th Ward in Syracuse, once a thriving African American community, razed in part by urban renewal.

The new park was made possible through funding from New York state.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.