CenterState CEO backs I-81 Community Grid but says still work to be done

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — CenterState CEO is excited by the State DOT’s preferred option for the future of I-81 through Syracuse.

Central New York’s lead economic development strategist and business leadership group has long favored the Community Grid approach.

CenterState even issued its own plan for replacing the aging I-81 viaduct back in February calling it the Community Grid-Plus.

It was a 10-point plan designed to go beyond just the highway and consider all the positive and adverse impacts on individual stakeholders across the region.

CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson says, “I am really encouraged that the State has recognized that the Community grid is likely the best foundation for our future, but I also want to make sure we get this right. Good is not enough in this situation. This is a once in a generation opportunity to transform our community.”

Simpson pointed out that just by removing the viaduct it will allow what he says is the energy and intellectual property from University Hill to flow interchangeably with Downtown and other Syracuse neighborhoods.

He is also encouraged the State really understood and heard the concerns of residents on the north side and is choosing not to build massive flyovers that would require a significant amount of demolition of historic properties in the City.

But Simpson also recognizes there are still issues created by the Community Grid that still need to be better mitigated.

“We can solve some of the economic concerns in Salina with other economic investments not just a roadway, we can address issues of quality of life in Skaneateles not just with a roadway but through other means and I think that’s the committment that I and I think many in this community are in the process of making right now,” he tells NewsChannel 9.

Simpson also says with the creation of the Community Grid comes a responsibility to make sure that the redevelopment that takes place in the shadow of the highway is not done without intention or care for the people that live there.

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