Council President Robinson Leaves City Hall Recalling Successes, Struggles over Decades in Syracuse

Dec 28, 2017

Van Robinson, Common Council President (L) , listens in during a city budget hearing.
Credit WAER file

One of the long-time members of the Syracuse Common Council who’s leaving this year has seen a lot of change in the city.  Van Robinson ends 18 years of service as president and a councilor.  His tenure in the city has an interesting spanning-of-generations since he came to Syracuse.

“The mayor was Bill Walsh.  And as I leave my political life, it’s ironic but the mayor-elect is his grandson Ben Walsh.  I wish the incoming administration all the luck in the world.  There’s a new city that has to be built.”

Robinson has long been a proponent of tearing down the I-81 viaduct. 

He recalls successes the council won, which helped the city and residents.

“Successful negotiations between the city and the county which kept the city from going bankrupt.  Some of the housing we were able to produce, low income.  We have been able to incent developers to come downtown, making it the largest growing neighborhood in the entire county.”

 He was also party to controversial tax deals with Carousel Center and Destiny;  and says increased sales taxes and jobs were beneficial.  Robinson recalls different councils feuding with different mayors over the years.  But one issue that frustrated him was sidewalk snow removal.

“When I see young kids trying to work through those snow mounds.  You can’t see them because the accumulated snow is taller than the kids. That’s something we should address.  It would demonstrate if the city has the guts to go through the sacrifices to preserve the safety of our children.” 

 Robinson notes he and other outgoing councilors share a desire to see the city succeed and grow, so they’ll stay involved. 

Tomorrow, Nader Maroun won his seat four times … and never shied away from debate, even against his own party.