I hope you and your family enjoyed your holidays despite travel challenges and the spread of the Omicron variant. I recognize that for most of us, this New Year brings with it a mix of hope and disappointment; hope that our current circumstances will improve and disappointment that the COVID-19 virus is still very much with us.
I too, am disappointed our day-to-day lives are still dominated by the virus. However, I am hopeful we will persist in meeting these challenges and will also continue to “build community” together in 2022 and beyond. I know – from my experience serving as Supervisor for 14 years - that when we work in community, when we build community together, there are no challenges we cannot meet, nor changes we cannot navigate.
We talk about “building community” in our communications because it is our sincere objective; to build community with you and for you; to build community inside town hall; on our town streets, in our parks, and along our trails. To build community with the infrastructure and economic development projects that will support us now and well into the future.
Our DeWitt community continues to grow – to draw new residents and businesses to our town – despite the economic challenges of the pandemic. Moreover, our community continues to come together for events, open discussion, and productive, respectful discourse about everything from marijuana sales and Elevating Erie, to the elimination of I-81 and whether to allow chicken ownership in our residential neighborhoods. (Please see page 3 of the Winter 2022 newsletter for more about this issue.)
We have continued to build community these last 22 months of the pandemic despite enormous challenge…and sometimes uncomfortable change.
In 2022 we are at the “what’s next” phase with several key town projects. Widewaters Pond is what’s next for our Elevating Erie project; the next step is sediment testing and the possible dredging of the pond. Thanks to our 2.66 Megawatt Town Solar Array, we no longer rely on fossil fuel for all of our municipal electric needs; the next step is a community power purchase program that would allow residents to purchase electricity from an expanded solar array. To see more about the benefits of our solar array, see my “Notes” in the newsletter.
Also, if you walk, cycle, or cross-country ski on the Erie Canal path near the Solar Array, stop by and see our new educational kiosk; it outlines the benefits of the project, as well as guiding you through the construction process. (See directions to the kiosk at: https://www.townofdewitt.com/news_detail_T10_R37.php)
What’s next for the Le Moyne Area Neighborhood Development Strategy (LANDS) project is to take the public’s input and create a comprehensive, tangible, long-term plan for the neighborhood. What’s next for our Recreation Department is evaluating our services and programming to better meet the needs of a challenging economic environment. What’s next inside Town Hall is a more expansive and aggressive grants program. What’s next for the Inland Port project is continued work towards direct truck access from Route 481 into the railyards.
What’s next at our Willis Carrier Park recreation facility is a public-private partnership with JDL Management. See the back cover of the newsletter – and my “Notes” – for more information about JDL and our partnership with Jim Smith and Dickie Woodridge. Suffice to say, this public-private community collaboration will support the profitability of the park, bring visitors to our town hotels, retail, restaurant, entertainment and fuel businesses, and provide the whole of Onondaga County with increased sales and room occupancy tax revenues.
As we reported last year, based on Visit Syracuse data gathered by Venue Strategies in a marketing report for Carrier Park, with just 14 multi-day weekend events, the park will generate an incremental annual hotel revenue of $945,000, an equivalent of $200,000 in sales tax revenues and $66,150 in annual Room Occupancy Tax to Onondaga County, as well as a total business benefit in excess of $5,000,000 annually. Over time, we anticipate these numbers could double as the park continues to develop and expand and as the number of weekend tournaments increases.
You will also find an article about our Town Watershed Projects in the Winter newsletter; the article provides comprehensive information about the purpose and function of watersheds – including how critical they are to our overall environment - and outlines the mitigation work we anticipate performing in DeWitt going forward.
What I also know from serving as Supervisor – and before that, as a Town Board member – is that the Town of DeWitt continues to be a highly desirable place in which to live, worship, work, learn, play, and shop…because you are a committed, caring, collaborative, inclusive community.
My very best to you and your family. My door is always open to your ideas and suggestions. As we build community together in 2022, thank you for the honor of continuing to serve you as Supervisor.
Edward M. Michalenko, DeWitt Supervisor
FYI, in the last few days of 2021, the Town did receive a very limited number of at-home test kits from Onondaga County. For more information, please go to: https://www.townofdewitt.com/news_detail_T10_R39.php
The Town of DeWitt…we’re building community.