Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tear Down These Walls!

With apologies to Ronald Reagan, I want to explore and inform those of you not in the Syracuse area about a particular conundrum that the city and its many thousands of travelers are facing. On the north side of the city, right along Route 81, is a building that is crumbling. In fact, it is crumbling right on to Route 81 and threatens to topple onto the northbound lanes. The city, in its infinite wisdom, has therefore CLOSED that portion of Route 81.

This was done on an emergency basis two weeks ago, right before the Syracuse-Villanova game. You remember that game...? The one that was featured on Game Day, the one that was attended by the most fans ever to pack a stadium to see a regular college game? The one that broke the Gerry McNamara's senior day record? There were 34,616 fans in attendance to hear the announcer remind everyone that Route 81 was closed and they should seek another route home. Great press for Syracuse!

The building stands because the city is fighting with the state over who should take it down. It is the number one topic of conversation on the local news shows - both television and radio. Let's remember that it's been crumbling for a while, with no end in sight. The owner can't do anything - the demo job would cost about a million dollars, he figures, and if he had that kind of money....Also, the cause of the mess is probably Route 81 and its trucks - Interstate Route 81, that is.

Bob tells me this is a reasonable assumption. He tells me that St. John the Evangelist just south of the building reinforced its walls with steel cables years ago to prevent them from being damaged by the traffic up I-81. Good thinking!

But there it is, and today is Day 14. The Post-Standard welcomes your guess as to when the building will come down and who will pay for it. Write to with your prediction. Hey, let's make a game of it! And BTW - more national exposure is coming in two weeks when the NCAA regionals come to town.

All this reminds me of a similar tear-down project years ago in Skaneateles. A house was built, as I understand it, on the waterfront without the town's permission. At that time the estimate of the worth of the house was around $300,000 - early 90s' pricing. But it came down, and nothing has been built on the property since.

The building by I-81 is old and was there long before the roadway. It needs to go - but I believe it is only the forerunner of other buildings that have seen better days and must be taken down. With the cost of everything going up - who does it? Opinions welcome!