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Walsh testifies at state legislative budget hearing

Ava Pukatch
Downtown Syracuse

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh testified during Wednesday's joint legislative budget hearing focused on local and general government and reiterated many goals from his State of the City address.

"Today, I ask for New York state’s assistance in critical areas that will help us achieve next-level growth: violence interruption, housing, transportation, infrastructure and city finances," Walsh said.

Walsh said he applauds Governor Kathy Hochul's goal of building 800,000 new units of housing in the state over the next decade. He said Syracuse is a step ahead with the Resurgent Neighborhoods Initiative.

"There are currently 84 units of new construction, owner-occupied single and two-family houses completed or underway," Walsh said. "We have 24 more 'shovel-ready' sites identified for construction this year and next."

Hochul's budget also helps fund the New 15th Ward housing project. Walsh said the city is also creating an equity-centered Housing Trust Fund to help fill remaining housing gaps for residents by supporting home repair and improvement, expanding flexible financing and increasing mixed-income development to deconcentrate poverty.

"We expect funding in the governor's executive budget will help seed the new fund, but we will also need the help of the legislature and our federal partners to establish a sustainable funding stream," Walsh said. "Syracuse is working to have the right infrastructure to manage and respond to growth."

Walsh dedicated a section of his testimony to violence interruption - calling for the legislature to commit resources toward immediate and long-term intervention efforts for crime reduction. He mentioned a new community violence intervention plan to be implemented this year focused on what he says is the leading cause of deadly violence in Syracuse — conflicts between gangs and groups of young people.

The mayor also noted the importance of the city's neighborhood street cameras saying they're essential in almost all major criminal investigations and successful arrests in the city.

"Our constituents and our police are in full agreement: we need to expand the network of cameras in our city to increase neighborhood safety and bring more violent perpetrators to justice," Walsh said.

Additionally, Walsh reiterated his goal for a Vision Zero city saying they will bring legislation to the state legislature this session to introduce speed cameras and red light cameras in school zones.

To read Walsh's submitted written testimony, click here.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.