The Outer Comstock Neighborhood Association (OCNA) was formed in the late 1970’s under the leadership of Fern Heckelman who resided on Tejah Avenue. It was primarily organized to oppose the proposed garbage-burning steam plant on Ainsley Drive and the Dome at Skytop. Also, the organization and succeeded in its efforts to keep the Dome out of Skytop. Fern subsequently moved to Skaneateles and is now deceased. With no clear cause to rally the troops, OCNA became inactive in the late 1980s. However, it did succeed in blocking Syracuse University from creating a parking lot on its property bordering Arnold Avenue, Roe Avenue and Vincent Street.
OCNA was incorporated as OCNA Foundation, Inc. under Section 402 of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law of the State of New York on . It is a 501(C)(3) corporation and therefore donations to OCNA are tax-exempt.
In 1989, outrage over the rezoning of property at Jamesville Avenue and Ainsely Drive to “industrial” without neighborhood notification propelled Gloria Sage (Jamesville Avenue) to reactivate the association. Gloria was fortunate to obtain seed money for the reactivation from the former OCNA treasurer, John Hildebrand (Goodrich Avenue).
Gloria was President of OCNA for 5 years, after which Emily Herbst (Tejah Avenue) and David Rogers (Arnold Avenue, recently deceased) took the helm. In 2000, David Rogers moved to Fayetteville and with no one willing to lead the organization, Gloria Sage again assumed the presidency where she served until the end of 2013. In 2014, Romana Lavalas (Remington Avenue) was elected president.
Some of the activities and accomplishments of OCNA since 1990 are:
- Obtained a grant for a new chain-linked fence around Comfort Tyler Park. (1997)
- Built a planter at the northeast corner of the park.
- OCNA opposed a zoning change that would have allowed a car wash, gas station, and convenient store at the corner of East Brighton Avenue and Thurber Street.
- Obtained a Community Foundation Green Grant for 32 Bald Cypress trees, a red maple and a white fringe tree for the park. The Bald Cypress trees were planted at the western border of the park as a screen. (2008)
- Advocated for and participated in the “Safe Route to School” project that obtained safety features for Percy Hughes School/The Latin School.
- Obtained a Community Foundation Green Grant for street trees along the cemetery on Jamesville Avenue south of Thurber Street (2005).
- Obtained a Community Foundation Green Grant for plants to refurbish the park planter (Blue Holly, Virginia Sweet Spire, Blue Angel Hosta, King Tut Hosta) as well as several trees and bushes (Tricolor Beech, Swamp White Oak, London Plane Tree, and Star Magnolias) (2004).
- Obtained an UNSAAC grant for a slide and 2 benches in the park (2009).
- Obtained a bronze plaque honoring Comfort Tyler to replace the original that was installed in 1941 and held a ceremony at its unveiling. The plaque was stolen and we replaced it with a granite one. Obtained a monument around the plaque with pavers, pole and chain fence, bench and flagpole (2011).
- Obtained a Community Foundation grant for four welcoming signs that were placed at the entrances to the neighborhood. Planted scrub roses under the signs (2004).
- Obtained a Greening Grant for 15 fragrant sumac ‘Lo-Gro’ plants that were planted behind the wall at the northwest corner of the park (2014).
- Obtained a TNT Escrow grant for a commemorative sign for the Old Rose Cemetery on Jamesville Avenue (2011). (Attempted to get a grant to fix up the cemetery but it was too costly.)
- Applied for an UNSAAC and CDBG grants for a playscape in the park (2003-2005).
- After the 1998 Labor Day storm that destroyed all the large trees in the park except for a large oak tree, OCNA was instrumental in planning a beautiful park and selecting a variety of trees for it. In the dedication, Mayor Bernardi helped plant a European Beech tree.
- OCNA took over the planting and maintenance of the traffic triangle at the corner of Comstock Avenue and East Colvin Streets.
- Held neighborhood informational meetings for the Xavier Woods and “Save the Rain” projects.
- Obtained a memorial bench and Elm tree in memory of Martin Sage, a long time OCNA officer and stalwart worker in the park.
- Obtained funding for a bike rack to be placed at Comfort Tyler Park (2015).