Democrat Onondaga County Legislators Oppose New Aquarium Democrat County Legislators Oppose New Aquarium

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Democrat county legislators are calling to redirect the funding for the Onondaga County Aquarium to go towards fighting lead poisoning in Syracuse. Legislators and advocates gathered outside of the Onondaga County Courthouse to bring attention to this issue and urge county executives to listen to their demands. County Legislator Mary Kuhn of District 7 said there’s over $200 million of federal funding that can be used to prevent lead poisoning.

“During the pandemic, interestingly enough, from the budget of 2020 and 2021, the county has amassed an additional surplus of a little bit over $125 million,” said Kuhn. “Which is added to the surplus that we had before the pandemic, which never got touched, to help people, which was $80 million.”

Kuhn said there are ways to support testing children and to prevent lead poisoning in homes.

“So we need [to] really ramp up our lead testing program, we also need to put money into mitigating those lead homes, and during the time that families are getting their homes [to] become lead free, they need a place to stay,” said Kuhn.

Kuhn said they would like to see a Ronald McDonald house of some sorts to house families temporarily while their homes are being inspected and cleaned.

Oceanna Fair, southside leader of Families for Lead Freedom Now, said this is an environmental and racial justice issue as it mostly affects Black and Brown children.

“We hold the highest lead poisoning rates within the county so of all the children, on a given year that test positive for lead poisoning, over 90% will be in the county with a majority of those being on the Southside and North sides of Syracuse,” said Fair.

During the beginning of COVID, Fair said testing for lead poisoning has declined and are now trying to push for increased testing.

“We know that we are missing about 50 % of the children who are supposed to be tested at ages one and two,” said Fair. “That is currently not happening, those children are falling through the cracks and we need to figure out why.”

Fair said they’re going to keep pushing for remediation for lead housing and that the key is to prevent lead poisoning before it happens. The petition opposing the aquarium is live on the CNY Solidarity Coalition website.

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