What Were These All About?
Revised: June 10, 2013
There were three of these concrete, above ground manhole structures located along the east side of Bear Trap Creek, between Kirsch Drive and the back end on the school property. From personal experience, I know that these structures had been there since the early 1950s and never served any practical purpose from at least that point on. Whether they had ever served any practical purpose is unknown. It is also unknown who built them, and what was their original purpose. There are a couple clues that both lead to the same speculation that these concrete structures were intended to be part of a sewer system that never came to be.
In 1942 the U.S. Government purchased land, on the northeast side of Mattydale, for the construction and operation of an Army Air Base. The construction of a sewer system was started and $350,000 was expended, but the system was never completed. It was described as “only a pipe buried in the ground,” Near the end of the war and after many months of negotiations, Onondaga County was able to purchase the Bear Trap Creek Sewer from the Federal Works Administration for the sum of $1. The plan was to fix up the sewer so that, “the line will serve the villagers of North Syracuse and Mattydale, whose systems are laid and ready for connecting with the trunk line.” (1) The concrete manholes might have been part of that Air Base sewer, but it was described as only a pipe.
A second possibility was found in the 1927 map of Onondaga County that showed in detail, all the residential development in the area. The Kirsch Tract opened in 1927 and consisted of five streets: Kirsch Drive, Leonard Street, West Molloy Road, Bernard Street and Roxboro Road that curved through all four. No houses were built on Bernard and it stopped at Belmont. According the 1927 maps, two more streets, parallel to Kirsch, were planned: Inglewood Drive and Hoffman Drive. They would have filled up the space between Kirsch and the end of Kirsch’s fields. That land is now occupied by the Roxboro Road Schools and the Salina Free Library.
The three concrete structures are located just about where Bernard, Inglewood and Hoffman would intersect Bear Trap Creek if they had extended that far. And there we have it: Three unused manholes for three streets that were never built.
(1) Sewer Offer Is Accepted, Syracuse Herald Journal, Syracuse, NY, August 17, 1945.