Monday, March 19, 2007

Utica Rising . . .

uticlok Signs of Utica Rising near Oneida Square!

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Utica was truly one of America's important cities. That era produced a lot of imposing structures: the Savings Bank (with the Gold Dome), Union Station, and Rutger Park homes to name a few.

When the weather warms up in a few days (hopefully), take a walk between Downtown and the Oneida County Historical Society on Genesee Street. You will see many examples of this great architecture -- some in good repair, some not, but now, thankfully, some being brought back to life.

In the block south of Oneida Square, there are two old sandstone buildings that show a lot of craftsmanship in the stonework. [Hopefully we'll get some pics up when the weather clears.] Always interesting to view when walking by on a sunny day, they are now being renovated for apartments by a husband and wife team, Gary and Jennifer Wereszynski, along with Jennifer’s mother, Nolita Johnson. According to their website,, one of the buildings is already fully rented, but there is still space in the second. There will be a grand opening on March 30.

The Oneida Square neighborhood has a lot of potential. (Check out the "Comstock Block" just to the west, across from Plymouth-Bethesda Church -- talk about charm -- you would think you were in England.) This new development is much better for Utica than any townhouses at Valley View discussed last week. It does not expand the city's infrastructure, nor does it destroy valuable parkland. Rather, it makes more intensive use of the infrastructure already in place.

We would like to see more of this. Rather than giveaway programs, developments like this can be nurtured by the city taking better care of and maybe upgrading its own facilities ... How about getting rid of the spaghetti around Oneida Sq. and putting the utilities underground ? .. maybe new period lighting? ... cobblestones? If the city can't afford these, how about more plantings? Just keeping things clean and neat, and well policed, can do so much.

Regardless, we applaud the vision of the Wereszynski-Johnson team, and wish them the best of luck.

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