Syracuse Common Council approves controversial agreement regarding Thornden Park
In a split vote, Syracuse’s Common Council approved an $11 million contract with Syracuse University this week. The contract, which has been held since it was introduced in October, would give SU a hand in maintaining the adjacent Thornden Park for the next five years.
While critics of the contract say it gives the university too much power over city property, Councilor Joe Driscoll, who represents that area, said there’s language in the contract to prevent an overreach.
“I've tried to do my best to do my research and ensure that the autonomy and the authority over Thornden Park remain with the city as I understand it in this agreement,” he said.
Several residents in that neighborhood, including the volunteer-led Thornden Park Association, have pleaded with the Common Council to take Thornden Park completely out of the contract to avoid any chance at a land grab.
However, Driscoll said he’s heard their concerns and thinks they’ve been addressed through nitpicking the language of the agreement.
“I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand this agreement that is exactly what we have ensured,” he said.
Many have also questioned what SU’s motive is wanting to go into this agreement with the city since it won’t actually own any of the areas in the contract. However, Councilor Chol Majok sees it simply as the university wanting increased involvement in the city.
“I think it's important to recognize that SU, as an institution in our community, has stepped up while other organizations decide not to do it,” said Majok.
Not all of the councilors agreed to move forward with this contract. Jennifer Schultz was the only member to speak out against it during Monday’s meeting, claiming the language could still use some work.
“It's loaded with statements that just, you can't understand them easily,” she said. “And I think because it's so detailed, we need to understand those details, both as the council the community needs to understand it, the city needs to understand it. And this just doesn't provide that clarity.”
Schultz was joined by two of her colleagues in voting against the contract, with a final tally of 7-3 in favor of the agreement.