Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Anti-Utica Bias is Evident . . .

No sooner than the suggestion is made of putting the SUNYIT sportsplex in downtown Utica, the O-D weighs in to shut down even the thought of this possibility.

While the O-D tells us how "excited" Rome, New Hartford and Whitestown are at the prospect of some ice availability at a SUNYIT campus sportsplex, it offers no explanation why a downtown Utica location would be any less exciting.

While the O-D claims that Mayor Julian's points in favor of a downtown location "are well taken," without missing a beat the editors go on to say "but this facility needs to go at SUNYIT. Such amenities are needed to attract students and grow the college's four-year program, keeping it competitive with other SUNY schools. That's in the best interest of this entire community. Besides, it's highly unlikely state officials would agree to an off-campus site, since the $20 million comes from the state university."

Why would locating the SUNYIT facility downtown be any less of an attraction for students to that institution? Why would locating the facility downtown make SUNYIT less competitive? These are points that should be rationally discussed, pro and con, with further study taken if needed -- not summarily dismissed because the O-D editorial board says so.

The big lie is to say that state officials would be unlikely to agree to an off campus site, since SUNY has already agreed to an off-campus university facility in downtown Binghamton to aid in that city's revitalization. It is hard to believe that our local editors are unaware of what is going on in another Gannett city.

Compare how the editorial board for Binghamton's Press & Sun-Bulletin treats the concept of an off campus downtown SUNY facility. The idea is embraced there . . . and not only by the press, but by the local community college as well. Why is there no fretting about "regionalization," when Binghamton is surrounded by some sizeable communities? Why don't Endicott or Johnson City or Vestal complain? Could it be that they all recognize that Binghamton is the hub of that region and that what is good for Binghamton is good for all? The Binghamton Press editors say "The busier the center the better. The more people downtown the better — not just for the city but also for the county and for the region."
That is right -- not only in Binghamton, but right here in Greater Utica!

It is an historical fact that Utica is the regional hub, and the O-D publisher knows full well through last fall's commissioned Zogby poll that not only do a majority of area residents still think of Utica as the hub, they WANT it to be the hub.

There is clearly a difference in attitude in how our southern-tier neighbors treats their hub and how we treat ours which can only be explained by Anti-Utica Bias. The bias is obvious on the O-D Editorial Board and, perhaps, on the Boards of some of our other local institutions or organizations such as the mis-renamed "Mohawk Valley" Chamber of Commerce.

We could speculate on the cause of this Bias, but will not because that would focus on our past at a time that we should focus on our future. Suffice it to say the people on these boards need to examine their consciences for the source of their Anti-Utica Bias and do something about it.

Without a change in attitude, this region will continue to work against itself, and will have no-one but itself to blame for its fate.

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