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Blueprint 15 requests ARPA funds for children's center in Syracuse's 15th Ward

A rendering for the proposed Children Rising Center for Syracuse's 15th Ward.
Ellen Abbott
A rendering for the proposed Children Rising Center for Syracuse's 15th Ward.

The organization overseeing the redevelopment of the old 15th ward in Syracuse is asking lawmakers to designate some American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for a multi-purpose facility in the midst of the changing neighborhood.

Blueprint 15 wants $2 million to help build a new Children Rising Center. It would include an early learning center, a parent/child play center and a new branch of the YMCA. The $24.5 million project already has $15 million in funding from the Allyn Family Foundation, Onondaga County and New York State. It’s now turning to the city to help fill the gap. Specifically, some non-committed ARPA funds from an EOC project that fell through. Blueprint 15 member Stephanie Pasquale said putting that funding into this project makes sense.

"Let's keep those dollars in the New 15th Ward neighborhood and support the Children Rising Center, particularly the childcare and early learning component of the project,” Pasquale said. “So we specifically submitted our request for the capital funds to support childcare and early learning versus just generic for the whole building."

The project is expected to serve more than 7,000 residents through the childcare, YMCA and play center, as well as create 31 new jobs. The plans were based on comments from residents asking for a safe area for youth as well as child care. Allyn Family Foundation Director Meg O’Connell said the $2 million in funding will be used wisely.

"You can be sure that if you commit the funds from the ARPA that we will get it done and that we will make it happen because I think we feel we're in 15, the board and the foundation feel just deeply committed to,” O’Connell said. “I think sometimes we try and do great things, we just can't get it across the finish line. Like we will take anything we can do to be able to get this across the finish line because we've promised this to the neighborhood and the kids and the community.”

Blueprint 15 is hoping to rebuild a vibrant 15th ward that was destroyed when Interstate 81 tore through it in the 60s. The neighborhood is one of the poorest in the city.

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.