Renovate Blodgett School

Post-Standard letter to the Editor.

November 18, 2008

To the Editor:

The city and school board have done a poor job of explaining or justifying past delays and the new budget blowing estimates to renovate Blodgett and other schools. $37 million to renovate 140,000sqft ($264/sqft)? That's ridiculous. From one week to the next, the school board's opinion gyrates from "We need a new 5th high school" to "We should consider closing Central Tech, due to expected declines in the Syracuse population"; from "Blodgett is in critical need of renovation" to "Let's close Blodgett or postpone it's renovation". It's enough to leave one breathless.

I think the Near Westside Initiative will be severely undermined if Blodgett is not renovated as early as possible. Great neighborhoods require great schools. I also see problems with the initiative itself. Planned aid programs to residents are needed and welcome, but will not be curative. Planned commercial redevelopment of West St. warehouses is great. But, alone, it is likely to lead mostly to gentrification. Revitalization will not progress throughout the neighborhood unless needy residents are given at least the economic opportunities commercial developers are given.

I offer these recommendation for the Near Westside revitalization:
1) Renovate Blodgett into a top-notch facility.
2) Speedup the West St. redevelopment.
3) Direct subsidies and tax breaks to home ownership, not to landlords.
4) Adopt the new federal program that turns Section 8 rent subsidies into mortgage subsidies. Many Section 8 assisted rents are high enough to finance new attractive mainstream 4-6 story condominium buildings, which could replace the current housing projects.

New jobs, new schools, and a new home to be proud of, will permanently change the social and economic outlook of residents. And the neighborhood will then begin to draw a diversity of residents as the visual line between developed/blighted or rich/poor is eliminated.

Carlo Moneti