AUBURN | The crowd, it seemed, was split.
Filling most of the benches set up in Memorial City Hall, Auburn residents shared their divided opinions on a proposed senior housing project Tuesday afternoon during the Auburn Industrial Development Authority's public hearing.
The hearing was held regarding Calamar Construction's request seeking a 10-year-long of payments in lieu of taxes, known as a PILOT, for the three-story apartment building it wants to construct in the wooded lot bordered by Standart Avenue, Grant Avenue, Catlin Street and North Lewis Street.
The company asked for a shorter PILOT period after AIDA unanimously rejected its request for a 20-year-long PILOT on July 31.
During the public hearing, Calamar representatives, local officials and neighbors living on the northeast side of Auburn spoke — almost equally — for and against the project.
Ron Noga, of 124 N. Lewis St., asked the AIDA board to deny Calamar's second request, arguing that the housing complex would only bring more dangerous traffic to the Standart Avenue area, not business.
"I don't think you'd want this in your backyard either," Noga said.
Tom Gabak, of 106 N. Lewis St., agreed, adding that PILOT programs should be reserved for job-creating businesses.
"There will be no increase in jobs," he said. "The only thing they'll be bringing to the table are construction jobs."
As a employee who works with the elderly, Sarah Douglas, of 121 Osborne St., said she believed the Calamar project would give seniors an option for an easier lifestyle while maintaining a social life and retaining their independence.
"I feel like this project is really needed," she said, explaining the senior housing center would appeal to local elderly residents and the aging baby boomer population.
Andrew Fish, interim director of the Cayuga Economic Development Agency, also spoke in support, citing the $1.2 million dollar property tax increase over the 10-year PILOT. He also added that it would keep aging seniors in the Auburn community rather than forcing them into other counties.
"This will keep their dollars in our community, to be spent in our stores," Fish said.
After closing the public hearing, AIDA board members briefly discussed the PILOT before setting a vote for 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10.
Before adjourning the meeting, James Dacey, AIDA chair, told the crowd that he believed that through the $250,000 to $1 million in repairs Calamar planned to spend on the senior center each year would serve as an additional benefit to the community.
"That's above and beyond the construction," he said. "I think there's some other tangibles in here besides the taxes."