Monday, June 18, 2007

Promoting Pedestrian Plazas

Utica city fathers are promoting another pedestrian plaza, this time for Oneida Square. As with the Varick Street proposal last week, the city's desire to make key locations more appealing and pedestrian-friendly is heartening. It almost seems as though the current leadership is finally -- after 7 years -- picking up on the Hanna administration's direction: make Utica look good. People will be interested in coming to Utica again if Utica shows an interest in itself.

But as with the Varick proposal, the idea of closing a street must be approached conservatively. Traffic in certain directions will be blocked. Closures are unnecessary to make streets pedestrian-friendly. The long term impact of a closure has not been assessed. Whether the inconvenience of the blockage is worth the additional of square footage in pedestrian space must be carefully assessed.

Before making permanent street closures, the city could attempt temporary closures for a month or two. In that manner, the public and the city leaders will have a better idea of what should be done.

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