For many years, the plight of the former Irondequoit Mall acted as a dark cloud attempting to block out the many things that make Irondequoit a special community. As someone who is unapologetic in his love for Irondequoit, I am proud of the resiliency of our community during the former mall’s darkest hours.
I love Irondequoit and, like all our residents, want to see it continue to succeed as a community. I believe we have so many positive attributes that make us a wonderful place to live, raise a family and help raise grandchildren. We have beautiful neighborhoods, quality schools and a strong sense of community. And yet, we cannot simply rest on our laurels.
The town board has put forth a proposal for a new community center to be built at the former Irondequoit Mall. If approved, it would help with the transformation of the former mall into Skyview on the Ridge, a mixed-use redevelopment of the largest vacant parcel in Monroe County. On July 30, it is up to the people of Irondequoit to decide whether we will move forward.
As proposed, the town would convert 43,000-square-feet of the former mall into a community center that would serve as a recreational facility with a gymnasium, elevated walking track and fitness center. Furthermore, it would provide much enhanced space for our senior programming and allow us to expand programming offered to residents of all ages.
The necessary borrowing for the community center would have an impact on the average property tax bill of approximately $18.57, annually. The town has conducted a good amount of due diligence in advance of making this proposal, including independent assessments, and we are confident there is both a market that could support a facility like this, and the ability for the town to operate it.
Over the past five years, our Recreation Department has grown considerably in size. Since 2014, the number of residents utilizing Irondequoit recreation programming has increased by 104%. The number of programs we offer has increased by 74%.
Several years ago, I argued that the people of Irondequoit deserved a brand new, state of the art library — one that would enhance an already strong quality of life in our town. Some were hesitant to take this step. Yet, in the four years since its doors opened, the new library has become a source of immense pride for our community. I strongly believe the same holds true for the proposed community center.
The eyes of the region will be on Irondequoit on July 30. I am confident we will send a loud message that we are willing to turn adversity into progress for our town; that we can take our largest challenge and turn it into a strength that will keep Irondequoit moving forward for years to come.