After years-long renovation, Perseverance Park earns its name (Editorial)

It’s taken six years of perseverance, but Perseverance Park is finally done, we happily note.

The public plaza in front of One Lincoln Center is now crisscrossed with concrete seating in abstract shapes, curved and tinted concrete underfoot, and mature trees and grassy plantings to soften all those hard edges.

It’s not as ambitious as the original vision for the spot — but it’s neat, inviting and, most importantly, finished.

Perseverance Park, running along South Salina Street between Fayette and Washington Streets, was the site of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in 2011. In 2012, it became a blank canvas in the heart of downtown when the Centro bus hub moved to its new location down the street.

In 2014, the Downtown Committee commissioned an art installation called “Flowscape” — a blue and white design painted on the ground — to spark public conversation about the future of the space.

In 2015, after issuing a request for proposals, former Mayor Stephanie Miner chose a redesign plan that included a huge piece of public art. That would have been cool — and expensive. The city could not raise $3 million, publicly or privately, to make it happen. Perseverance Park languished. “Flowscape” faded.

When Mayor Ben Walsh took office in 2018, he revived the project in a simpler form, covering the $500,000 cost with money left over from the Connective Corridor project and from the Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency, which owns the park. The project did not touch the northern quadrant, on the Washington Street side. City Hall hopes to attract a developer for that prime real estate.

The work was completed while many downtown office workers waited out the coronavirus pandemic from home. Until the weather turns, they’ll have a new outdoor spot to lunch, relax and socialize.

See? 2020 isn’t a total loss.

‘The rich are different …’

It pays to have money. No, really, it does. The wealthy among us can hire the best accountants and the best lawyers to avoid paying what they owe in taxes. That leaves everyone else holding the bag.

No, we’re not talking about the president’s income taxes. We’re talking about millionaire developer Bruce Kenan’s property taxes.

As staff writer Michelle Breidenbach reported, Kenan argued his Skaneateles lakefront complex was worth $2.7 million. The town assessor said it was worth $7 million. Kenan sued and got the town to split the difference, at $4.7 million. Then he turned around and put it on the market for $8.4 million – nearly three times what he said it was worth.

Kenan’s argument hinges on the notion that assessors can’t place a true market value on a unique piece of property until it sells. Baloney. The law says assessors must attach a value to each property that keeps up with changes in market values, even if a home is not sold.

If only every Skaneateles taxpayer could afford the same privilege of fighting their tax bills in court. Instead, they’re shouldering a portion of Kenan’s property tax burden, plus their own.

“The whole thing to me is just a slap in everybody else’s face,” Assessor Michael Maxwell said. We couldn’t agree more.

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Editorials represent the collective opinion of the Advance Media New York editorial board. Our opinions are independent of news coverage. Read our mission statement. Members of the editorial board are Tim Kennedy, Trish LaMonte, Katrina Tulloch and Marie Morelli.

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