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September 2011



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Published: Friday, August 19, 2011, 5:00 AM


In 1999, urban planner Andres Duany visited Syracuse for an intensive process of analysis and consultation that resulted in the Onondaga County Settlement Plan — a revolutionary blueprint that paradoxically focused on traditional neighborhoods to create a model for pleasing, sustainable environments in Central New York.


In 2005, the citizens group F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse produced an Action Plan for a Sustainable Community. Its advice to local government: Create a sustainability plan.


In 2010, the county’s Development Guide echoed the Settlement Plan’s emphasis on limiting suburban sprawl. Now the county has taken up F.O.C.U.S.’s suggestion and is working on a Sustainable Development Plan to guide operations and engage municipalities and citizens.


At a public workshop in June, participants addressed three interlocking elements of sustainability — “environment,” “economy” and “social equity.” They reaffirmed the need to curb sprawl and endorsed government consolidation and cooperation, renewable energy and conservation, improved transit and bike trails, and protection of open space.


County residents have three more chances to share their “core community values” — 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the Salt Museum in Liverpool; 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Marcellus Town Park; and 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Manlius Village Centre. Make your voice heard.


Protecting the vulnerable


The state this week took a big step forward in protecting its most vulnerable citizens. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced an agreement between the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the state police on guidelines for reporting possible crimes against the disabled.


The move is the latest policy change in response to a New York Times investigation that pointed to a pattern of secrecy and cover-ups of sexual and physical assaults of group home residents. The Times reported that some group home employees had bullied, neglected and assaulted people with conditions such as Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.


For years, OPWDD has handled potential criminal investigations internally, despite state law that requires that incidents in which a crime might have been committed be reported to law enforcement.


Under the agreement that went into effect Monday, staff must report to law enforcement cases that involve “intentional hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, hurling, strangling or shoving of an individual receiving services by a staff member.” It also requires reporting of sexual contact between an employee and a resident, or between two residents if force is involved, and of deaths when the cause is unknown.


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