O-D: What are some cooperative efforts you can be involved in with the Rome Chamber of Commerce?Isn't it odd that when a question is asked about cooperation with the Rome Chamber, Mr. Elias starts to spout the Mohawk Valley Water Authority's propaganda on how wonderful it would be to share Herkimer County water with western Oneida County. We have heard nothing of the sort from the Rome Chamber. In fact, Rome is completely capable of taking care of its own needs AND Rome is willing to supply water to parts of western Oneida County as well. If Mr. Elias wants other chambers to cooperate with him, he needs to demonstrate that he knows what he is talking about.
Elias: Well, right now, water issues. I'm getting into these things now and right now water seems to be an opportunity. The Hinckley Reservoir in Herkimer County is the water supply for much of Herkimer and Oneida counties, and there seems to be a need for water in the western part of Oneida County, so there is a terrific opportunity for us to work together to make some good things happen.
The alternative is that water comes in from Onondaga County, from the western side and the thought process is that economic development will follow the waterline — there is a tremendous opportunity for us to further economic development in both Herkimer and Oneida counties by ensuring that we work together in water issues.
Frank Elias: Regionalization, cooperation and working with groups from outside of the area. There's often a perception of the local area not having a regional approach, not being able to work together, not having a vision. Knowing the people that are here and knowing some of the projects that we're working on, there is plenty of potential, and there is a lot going on that people are not fully aware of.There is the catch: We are not a regional entity. We are carved up into many little municipalities that duplicate services and work in opposing directions. Municipalities lacking certain assets insist that others share what they have -- but they don't want to share their assets in return. The prime example is the water supply. The suburban areas around Utica insisted that Utica share its water -- Utica did -- but the suburban areas that used Utica water to grow their tax base refuse to share that tax base with Utica. New Hartford insisted on turning itself into the "regional" shopping district displacing Utica from that role, requiring expensive expansions in infrastructure and its police force, and wasting the infrastructure and human resources that Utica already had in place to support it. As a result, taxpayers have paid twice for the same thing . . . and we now have urban sprawl to add to the misery.
We often see Utica as separate from Rome, but when people from outside the area look at our area, we stand to benefit by regionalization by saying "Utica-Rome." I mean look at the population difference between Utica and Rome separate and Utica-Rome combined. We will be viewed much more positively if we were to act regionally and portray ourselves as a cooperative regional entity.
As long as we remain carved up into pieces and talk of "regionalization" in the abstract, there will always be one municipality using the "regionalization" label to take advantage of another.
If Mr. Elias wants to accomplish something that benefits the people of the region, he will advocate the creation of a true regional entity -- by erasure of existing municipal boundaries and merger.