Syracuse OKs pool financing agreement

Apr 13 2013 - 9:23pm

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SYRACUSE -- The city's redevelopment agency has approved a new agreement to help finance a community pool.

RDA members have ratified a new agreement with developer Ed Gertge to provide funding for the expansion of the Syracuse Fun Center at 1806 South and 2000 West, which will include 24,000 square feet for an aquatic center.

The 57-page agreement calls for the city to provide up to $2.1 million in incentives to the developer over a 20-year period. Short-term, the RDA will front $100,000 immediately to help Gertge move ahead with engineering costs and then retain another $200,000 in funds to be used as payment toward an anticipated building permit and connection fees.

Delayed by Gertge's difficulty in getting construction financing, the $5 million project faces some key deadlines.

City Attorney Will Carlson pointed out that if the project isn't completed by Nov. 30, its tax valuation would limit the ability of the city to extend funding in 2014 for the project. The RDA's existing agreement not only calls for $300,000 up front for the project, but also projects a yearly subsidy from $30,000 to $168,000 over the next 19 years.

The new agreement calls for the RDA to provide Gertge with $96,000 for fiscal year 2014, if the project is completed by the end of the year. The RDA has met twice this month, already, in an effort to move the project forward.

Mayor Jamie Nagle admitted earlier this month that she is nervous about how many delays the project has encountered.

"I want to make sure we are going into this with our eyes wide open," Nagle said. "It sounds like we're willing to gamble everything on this big project. I've been so cautious. I'm nervous because there have been so many delays

Support for financing the project has been solid among RDA board members since it was proposed.

Councilman Brian Duncan described financing the project as a risk the city needed to take and noted he has been willing to take on the risk, because support for the project has been so widespread in the business community.

He said there are a lot of residents who want a swimming pool.

Besides the indoor pool, the center amenities are expected to include go-karts to complement the existing bowling alley, mini-golf and laser tag options, among other recreational pursuits.

Gertge has estimated the expansion will create approximately 15 to 20 more jobs and provide a year-round draw for individuals, families and youths.

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