New Community Organizer at SUN !


Gwen Chaffin has joined SUN as a Community Organizer. Gwen worked on several campaigns before joining SUN that included PUSH-Buffalo and the Coalition for Economic Justice and Citizen Action all based in Buffalo, NY. She also worked on the campaign to fight for $15.00 an hour for fast food workers. Gwen also worked on to make sure that private out of state companies hired locally by working on a Community Benefits Agreement along with other policies.

Gwen is a graduate of SUNY College at Old Westbury, Old Westbury, NY and Binghamton University School of Social Work in Binghamton, NY. She has three Syracuse born and raised children and four grandchildren. Gwen is very happy to be working for the Syracuse community that she calls home. She is hopeful that she will be a good fit and will be able to work hard to make sure that all neighborhood residents are safe. And that all of your concerns are met!

If you have any issues or concerns or you just want to join her at SUN. Please give Gwen a call at 476-7475.

Onondaga Creekwalk Meeting Phase ll !



Three Meetings Held Throughout the City to Give the Public an Opportunity to Comment on Design Options for Phase II of the Popular Onondaga Creekwalk

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Following up on the first round of public meetings earlier this year, the City of Syracuse will hold a second set of public information meetings to present greater detail on the project and to continue to gather public input as part of the preliminary design process for the second phase of the Onondaga Creekwalk.

The meetings will be as follows:

Monday, June 22 – 6:30 p.m.
Southwest Community Center
401 South Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13204

Tuesday, June 23 – 6.30 p.m.
Seals Community Center at Kirk Park
300 West Borden Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13205

Wednesday, June 24 – 6:30 p.m.
SUNY Oswego Metro Center
The Atrium – 2 S. Clinton St., Downtown

For more information on the second phase of the Onondaga Creekwalk, the City of Syracuse has developed a web page which will include a copy of the meeting presentation and additional information on the development process.

The first phase of the Onondaga Creekwalk opened in October, 2011 and is a 2.6 mile pedestrian and bicycle trail following the path of Onondaga Creek connecting Armory Square to Onondaga Lake. The proposed second phase of the Creekwalk will extend 2.2 miles, from Armory Square to West Colvin Street.

Victory for SUN !



South Mini Mart, 2625 Midland Ave at the corner of W Ostrander Ave. You can’t miss this store, its painted BRIGHT yellow. SUN members have complained and complained about the drug dealing, gang members hanging out both inside and outside the store, the two dumpsters in the rear at times overflows with trash and they are supposed to be screened off so the neighbors don’t have to see it. South Mini was never granted permission to run their grocery business in the entire width and length of the building.

SUN latest campaign began from August 2014 thru December 2014, at our monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month. SUN members gathered and pressured people like: Capt. Tim Gay of the police drug unit, Councilor Helen Hudson, Ken Towsley, Director of Code Enforcement, Megan McLees-Craner of the City’s Law Department, Lt Richard Shoff who monitors the city’s Business License. The message was clear we want that store CLOSED.

Finally on Thursday, June 11th it was CLOSED because they never followed the city’s rules. They can call for a hearing and SUN can weigh in with written comments. Still outstanding Police Chief Frank Fowler has not decided what the outcome should be with the Nuisance Abatement hearing of March 10 where the City has made 6 drug arrests in the last 24 months on the property. At the hearing SUN called for the maximum penalty, closure of the store for 12 months.

Galaxy Market, former S&R Market, corner of South Ave and Tallman Streets.

SUN office was receiving complaints about loitering both in and outside this store. One complaint was passed onto the Police Department’s Drug Unit (Special Investigations Division/SID) in April. This is the store where you can buy crack. We do pass on this information but we do not pass on the name of person that contacts the SUN office.

On Friday, June 12th we heard from our Deputy Chief that the police arrested a man who was charged for a shooting that happened the night before and arrested 8 others for a total of 22 charges took place on June 2, 2015. Seized 65 bags of cocaine, 32 grams of week, 130 packets of heroin and $1,572 in cash.

Some stores like this need to be shut down and unless we turn in complaints and continue to hold meetings to pressure City Hall, they will bring down our neighborhoods.

What YOU can do for SUN?

* Support SUN with your membership dues of $25/year or $35 for two years * Get friends and relatives to JOIN SUN.

** Be part of SUN’s leadership team: We need YOU to help run (Co-Chair) our monthly meetings, take notes ( Secretary) and help run the SUN Board by being a Board Representative.

Southside Coalition/Southwest Action Council meets the Second Thursday of the month, 7 pm at ______________ We are looking for a July meeting place since the Brady Faith Center is in use on 14th of July.
! ! !

Thank you for attending our meetings.
Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN) 1540 S Salina St, 13205 476-7475

SUN Chairperson To Speak At National Conference

Maria Johnson, the Chair of SUN’s Board of Directors (and a lifetime resident of the Southside), has been selected to speak at a national conference on banking and housing policy in Chicago, Illinois on August 19th.

The 2005 Housing and Banking Summit is entitled “People + Money: Making it Work in the Neighborhood”, sponsored by the National Training and Information Center of Chicago and underwritten by groups such as Fannie Mae and Citibank.

Maria will be speaking on a panel discussing the impact of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in low-income neighborhoods. Maria has been asked to discuss SUN’s efforts to direct more CDBG funding to neighborhoods on the south, southwest and near-west sides of Syracuse, as well as the role that community organizing plays in helping make the CDBG program work in our neighborhhoods.

McKinley Park–Forgotten No More?

SUN’s Southside Coalition invited Parks & Rec. Commissioner Pat Driscoll to our April 11th meeting and showed him photos and told him horror stories of the neglect of McKinley Park. The result was a commitment to work with neighboring Brighton Family Center to use the park during the summer, bringing more of the mobile recreation unit to the park–and a special “blitz clean” of the park.

The Southside Coalition is also pushing to develop McKinley into a full-day “Drop In” park, with a permanent Parks & Rec. presence other than the lifeguards in the pool. If more families felt safe using the park, fewer drug dealers will hang around.

SUN Wins Agreement On Maintenance Of Vacant HUD Houses

SUN has been a participant in the National People’s Action (N.P.A.) coalition for almost 20 years. Over 1,000 residents, working in neighborhood groups from over 30 states across the country, gather in Washington, D.C. and work to change federal policies and improve their local neighborhoods.

One of the many N.P.A. victories that that has had a positive impact on Syracuse was the agreement with H.U.D. to radically improve the maintenance of the vacant houses owned by the federal government. With intense board ups, weekly inspections and large signs with emergency phone numbers posted on all the properties, H.U.D. went from being the biggest slumlord in Syracuse to having the best kept vacant houses in the city.

H.U.D. also benefited from this partnership. Due to their improved condition, houses on the H.U.D. list do not linger for months and years–they sell in weeks. Because the houses have not been stripped of all their value, copper pipes, water heaters and wood fixtures, the houses also sell for a higher price.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration recently decided to award new contracts to maintain and sell H.U.D.’s inventory of vacant houses. SUN contacted the new maintenance company for our area to schedule a meeting. The regional manager in New Jersey agreed to come, but was pessimistic about their ability to meet our demands on board ups. According to the new company, their request to continue the maintenance policy in Syracuse was denied by a low level official in HUD’s Philadelphia regional office.

SUN told the manager that we were meeting in Washington during the N.P.A. conference with a HUD official with slightly more authority–Secretary Alphonso Jackson. We agreed to have our meeting in Syracuse a week after the N.P.A. conference. On the Thursday after our conference, three officials from National Home Mortgage Solutions toured the H.U.D. houses in our neighborhood and met with 20 members of our Housing Leadership Team. National Home’s attitude on the day of our meeting was completely different from the week before. SUN presented National Home’s regional manager with a 10-point agreement on how houses should be maintained in our neighborhoods. National Home signed with no objections.

SUN leader Barbara Devoise co-chaired this meeting–her first such experience. It was easier for her since she had just returned from her first N.P.A. conference. At the end of the meeting, with the agreement signed, Barbara was wrapping up the meeting by asking National Home what they wanted out of this meeting. The regional manager replied without hesitation: “We’re going to do whatever you want.”

No Siesta, Close The Fiesta!

On February 14th, 20 SUN leaders visited Mayor Matt Driscoll in his City Hall office. This was not a typical Valentine’s Day affair, SUN demanded that the Mayor earn his gift. SUN wants the city to close the Fiesta Market (317 S. Geddes St.) under the city’s Nuisance Abatement law. SUN also wants the city to evict a junk-collecting tenant at a property (328 Midland Ave.) that the city declared unfit for habitation in May 2004.

SUN was forced to make its
surprise visit because of no progress made by the city departments responsible for these problems–the Law Department for Fiesta Market and the Division of Code Enforcement for 328 Midland Ave.

Despite 12 arrests for drug sales on its property, and an agreement with the city to hire private security and install cameras to monitor its parking lot, the Fiesta has made no effort to clean up its act. In fact, in the time after the store’s agreement with the city, the store has been the site of an arrest for underage sales. At the time of this arrest, drugs were found on the property.

Code Enforcement had towed out massive amounts of junk from the property at 328 Midland after SUN held a meeting on the problem in May 2004. The house, which has had no running water since 2000, was declared unfit at that time. However, the tenant continued to live there and collect more junk–cars, refrigerators and other large size appliances.

SUN held another meeting in February with the director of Code Enforcement Jim Blakeman and area residents. When confronted with pictures of what residents are calling Blakeman’s Blooper, SUN was informed that there was nothing Code Enforcement could do about the tenant and Code would not resume towing out junk in the winter.

After SUN’s visit at noon, Code Enforcement was called into an emergency meeting with the Mayor and towing of junk resumed that afternoon. Code Enforcement also spoke directly with the absentee landlord and reached an agreement for the landlord to start eviction proceedings.

Later that same afternoon, the city’s Police Chief issued the order to close the Fiesta Market within business 5 days. The store appealed the order to the state’s Appellate division and the case will be heard on February 28th in Rochester.

Oh, SUN’s Valentine gift to the mayor? Two big sheets of plywood to board up the problem properties. Practical AND Thoughtful!