Lack of enthusiasm in corridor a result of public uncertainty
Both Syracuse University students and the general public show a stark lack of interest in the Connective Corridor project. However, the collective yawn is unfortunate considering that the project aims to invest millions of dollars for the benefit of the university and the city. U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton have secured $9.36 million from the federal government for the project. That is a tremendous amount of money from taxpayers, and students and residents are essentially surrendering control of it by ignoring the Connective Corridor design process.
It might not be easy to see, but the Connective Corridor between Syracuse University and downtown Syracuse is steadily moving down the long, complex road toward completion. Four design finalists were presented at a symposium at the Everson Museum of Art last week. Those concepts were displayed in four locations throughout the city over the last several weeks.
As a large sign at the University Avenue entrance to the Marshall Square Mall proclaimed, one of those locations was in a storefront at the mall where the designs could be easily accessed by students. All four displays in the city had interactive kiosks that invited those inspecting the prospective designs to share their thoughts on the project.
Despite having an excellent location between two of the most popular establishments near campus, Chucks and Starbucks, students did not exactly flock to the display. I walked by the display several times a week, and saw a grand total of two people examining the designs. According to a report in the Daily Orange, as of last week all four kiosks had only generated approximately 100 comments.
One reason that may be largely behind the lagging interest in the corridor is the convoluted way that the project has been described. The inside of a booklet from the Office of Engagement Initiatives says that ‘the Connective Corridor is a community-wide initiative to create a regional center for art and culture linking the university community with downtown Syracuse and numerous art institutions, entertainment venues, and public spaces along the way.’ This statement is reflective of all the confusing descriptions that have been given of the project.
These descriptions may actually bar readers from understanding the possibilities presented by the corridor rather than helping them to picture them. But it is important to look past the rhetoric that has defined the corridor until now and consider the fact that some very real opportunities to stimulate interaction between the Hill and the city of Syracuse are growing.
The four finalist designs largely focus on providing new spaces in the city for arts and entertainment to grow. Since a large part of collegiate life is centered on arts and entertainment, SU students stand to benefit substantially from this project.
Surrendering the chance to help shape a project that will largely determine the expansion and direction of the university’s campus for many years is a foolish move. Everyone should look past the confusing aspects of the corridor and focus on shaping its nature.
Rick Seltzer is a sophomore newspaper journalism major whose columns appear in The Daily Orange on Wednesdays. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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