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At tenants meeting, Skyline residents share frustrations over conditions

Payne Horning
Skyline Tenants Association President Katrina Weston addressed resident concerns Saturday and walked through the changes that the building's owner is being forced to make per a city nuisance abatement order.

Tenants of The Skyline Apartments in downtown Syracuse gathered this weekend to discuss how a recent murder there and resulting legal action from the city may change the notorious building.

Even before the meeting began, frustrations boiled over about what's been described as inhumane and dangerous conditions inside the building. One tenant repeatedly hit the ground with the metal baseball bat that he said he has to carry with him at all times inside Skyline.

Paul Correia, a frequent visitor to Skyline, said he also feels the need to carry a weapon there.

"I mean it's pitiful when I got to go in the building and have a stun gun in my hand to protect myself from the people up in here," Correia said. "You see urine in the hallways, urine in the stairwells, needles, drug dealing in the parking lots, there's drug dealing in the building."

One resident named Jamie said there are roaches in the apartments and hallways. She's trying to move out and said the city should make sure everyone else does too.

"It can't be rectified, it's going to take years to do that," Jamie said. "As far as I'm concerned, the city should seize the building, start all over, condemn this place because it's sickening."

During the meeting, Tenants Association President Katrina Weston laid out the changes Skyline's owner Green National must make to comply with a nuisance abatement order from the city, including employing full-time security personnel, installing a security alarm system on all doors and video cameras in hallways and stairwells, and reviewing the arrest records for certain tenants to determine whether they should be evicted. Weston said the trouble is they've heard similar promises before. The real change, she said, needs to be in ownership.

Credit Payne Horning

"I don't know if it's the city or whoever it is that could take people's apartments and run them or hire a company to come in and run them - it could be a good place, you just have to root out all of that stuff," Weston said. 

Weston said Green National mentioned that there could be a potential buyer for the building. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh has also heard that the Greens are close to selling. While no specifics were shared with his administration, Walsh is hopeful a sale comes through.

"We've taken the Greens to court before, we've issued code violations, yet here we are with the current conditions after years of legal actions," Walsh said. "I would love nothing more than to see this property change ownership and end up in the hands of an owner who's going to invest the resources to make sure it's safe. We're using every bit of leverage we have to make sure the current owners do what is required of them or that they sell it to somebody that will, but we can't force them to do that."

Syracuse has threatened to place the building under receivership to make the changes or to close it entirely if Green National does not make the required changes.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.