By: Joseph Massaro
Sometimes when you live in an area with different towns and villages surrounding it, it’s hard to tell what area you are in at times. In Monroe County, it’s hard for people, even residents who have been living there for years to spot the differences amongst the boundaries between the Town of Sweden and the Village of Brockport.
It might make it even more confusing if you live in the Student Townhomes down on the Townhome Terrace near 350 New Campus Dr., near The College at Brockport. If you live in the townhomes, you’re technically living in the Town of Sweden, not the Village. This is odd because you would think living right near The College at Brockport, would make you located in the Village of Brockport like some of the college buildings including the various residential halls, the A.W. Brown Building, and Holmes Hall. However, the train tracks is what makes the difference between the Town of Sweden and the Village of Brockport. To be perfectly clear, the entire Village of Brockport is in the Town of Sweden, while a chunk of it is in the Town of Clarkson.
Knowing the two areas well may take a while, especially for incoming college students.
Jared Rosenberg, a student at the College at Brockport, who works at the college’s radio station, 89.1 the Point, has been attending the college for two and a half years.
“The biggest difference between the Town of Sweden and the Village of Brockport is that the village is largely a college town because of the university there, which brings in a lot more wealth with the shops there like the KFC that got recently built and the Taco Bell that was newly renovated last year. There’s a great upgrade due to the amount of the people coming to the village whereas in Sweden, not so much.”
However like many, Rosenberg just mixed up the two areas. Yes, Brockport attracts a lot more people mostly due to the college, but the commercial restaurants Rosenberg mentions are actually in Sweden, not Brockport.
You wouldn’t think, but the Sweden Town Hall is located on State St., which is right off the Main St. located in the village, which includes local shops and the classic Brockport Strand Theater. And it’s ironic because Sweden’s town hall is closer to Brockport, while the village’s town hall is closer to the commercial buildings in Sweden. Brockport has its own building code, enforcement laws, its own police department and since 2015, its own court.
Karen Sweeting, the Sweden Town Clerk, said, “The residents of the Village of Brockport want to be their own entity. They want to be separate from the town.”
Developed in 1814, 15 years prior the development of the village, Sweden is mostly known for its rural appeal, agricultural farming spaces, long country roads, commercial stores and restaurants and its quick access to the Erie Canal. It has more traffic due to its road when compared to the village, thus a person sitting in rush hour traffic can be attracted to the various commercial businesses on both sides of them, whether it’s Wegmans or some fast food restaurant. The big retailers and commercial stores also would rather develop in Sweden than the Brockport because the taxes are much higher in the village. Logically speaking, it is just easier to develop commercial structures with a high assessment in a lower taxed area. Between the traffic and the taxes, these corporations would rather develop in Sweden than Brockport.
Brockport is great with its walkability to the canal, local shops and of course its easy access to college parties. However with those attributes comes a cost; a heavy tax burden on Brockport locals.
Brockport’s village tax rate is the highest in Monroe County. Here is a breakdown of the taxes in Brockport. Also Brockport is more populated than Sweden, with 60% of people living in the village, while 40% live in the town.
Kevin Johnson, the Town Supervisor of Sweden said, “When people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m from Brockport.”
Even though Johnson is the Town Supervisor of Sweden, he doesn’t want to cause confusion because some people outside the Monroe County area have never heard of Sweden.
However because Brockport is much smaller than Sweden, there have been motions to dissolve the village, which has been divisive amongst the locals of both Sweden and Brockport.
“Historically speaking, the relationship between the village and town has always been good, but there has been some tension within the the decade,” said Johnson.
Some may think this tension is due to the two dissolution votes were held in 2010 and 2016, to dissolve the village in favor of lower taxes. In 2016, it was shot down by a vote of 832 to 617. In 2010 when residents had their first shot of the dissolution, the vote was 959 nays to 662 yeas. During the dissolution many wondered jokingly if the college was going to be changed from the College at Brockport to the College of Sweden.
“This dissolution might’ve been the product of this tension, however the village is run differently than the town, with political differences and people wanting to live in different settings. Beyond this, I have a very good relationship with the Mayor [Margaret Blackman]. The town and the village appeal to their constituents and address their issues differently. Neither is considered right or wrong, they’re just different,” said Johnson.
The culture may be different in both areas, however beyond the differences, you can call Sweden “Brockport” or Brockport “Sweden.” No matter the differences in geographically, politically, and economically, it’s all one big community.
Margaret Blackman, the Mayor of the Village of Brockport, said, “The people who live both in Sweden and Clarkson think of themselves as the Brockport community. Brockport is the urban center, so I think everybody has that connection.”
There are some major projects Johnson is working on at the Sweden Town Park. There will be a large inclusive playground to provide active play for children in wheelchairs and those who have differing abilities, which is currently under construction. Also, the Town plans to install a splash park in the spring, which seems to be widely supported by residents. Since there have been issues with the water in the Sweden for many years, Johnson and his team plan on expanding water supply lines throughout the town. Some people who live out further in the countryside of Sweden, have water wells which can be problematic, thus hopefully that changes.
Yes, these two areas may differ politically, economically, and most importantly geographically, but if you realize it, Sweden and Brockport are very close together. Who knows if there will be another dissolution vote in the future, but for now both areas manage to coexist.