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Gondola funding in limbo as other NY State Fair project is priority

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo
via Flickr
An aerial gondola example.

The future of the much maligned gondola proposed for the New York State Fair is in flux. It’s a matter of money.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said it all comes down to priorities. Building an Expo Center that would attract events, especially horse shows, is the most important project stemming from a task force deciding how to spend $70 million in state dollars earmarked for state fair renovations. And Mahoney said initial plans for an 80,000-square-foot facility, were apparently not big enough.

"If we find that we need the building to do what we want it to do, to be a little bigger and therefore a little bit more expensive, then we're going to have to fit what we do within the budget we got from the state legislature, which might mean the gondola gets pushed out again, and ends up on the master plan for the next task force and the next round of funding,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney said the aerial gondola proposal has been on the task force agenda from the start, contending it will be a year-round draw for the fair and its vicinity. Some in the community have criticized the idea of spending $15 million on a gondola, including State Sen. John DeFransisco. He said money would be better spent improving transportation and paved parking at the nearby Lakeview Amphitheater.

Currently, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Office of General Services is making the final determination how much the Expo Center will cost, and how much will be left over for other projects.

"They are now in their process of determining the right size and then how much that right size building will cost," Mahoney said. "And we’ll find out how much money is left over, and whether there’s enough left over to do what we’re hoping to do."

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.