Thursday, May 29, 2008

Planning . . .

Two stories from today's OD relate to planning, one showing a "good" direction, the other "not quite sure."

In New Hartford: Consideration is being given to increasing the size of land parcels. This is good news -- New Hartford is finally thinking about the consequences of development before it happens -- here in the context of grappling with its storm-water problems. If lot sizes are increased, less impervious surfaces will be created that cause runoff. However, New Hartford should not be too quick to jump at what seems to be an obvious solution. Larger lots also increase the cost (per capita) of services such as maintaining water and sewer lines, sidewalks, policing, etc., because development is spread out. Clustering development on smaller lots, but with surrounding buffer zones, may be an option that addresses runoff, but also reduces infrastructure costs. Look to see what has been done elsewhere - - e.g., Europe where fuel is expensive and agricultural land is at a premium (because that is what our future is starting to look like), or suburban Montreal.

In Utica: Mayor Roefaro is planning on moving Oneida Square's Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument to the center of Genesee Street, and creating a traffic roundabout. Five or 6 traffic lights would be eliminated.
“People don’t like change, but change is good,” Roefaro said Wednesday. “Putting the roundabout there and bringing the statue into the middle of the street — now you’re giving Utica a whole different look.”
The objective here really is not clear. There is no traffic problem to speak of. If traffic lights are eliminated and cars will be going in circles, the area will likely become unfriendly to pedestrians -- which is exactly opposite what is needed if a city renaissance is expected.

If a "new look" is the objective, how about something less intrusive: cobble the pavement in the street, eliminate the overhead "spaghetti" of power/phone lines, put in "period" street lighting, redo the sidewalks, increase police patrols (preferably on foot), and encourage the cafe use of sidewalks where they are wide enough (e.g., near the antique store). Oneida Square's current street layout is not that bad, but some well-planned environmental changes could give it that "sense of place" that would make it a destination. Regardless . . .

Planning is something we would like to see more of . . . because creating an atmosphere of predictability makes it easier for people/businesses to make their own investment plans.

But planning, to be effective, must be well thought out. It should be directed to solve specific problems, but also be done in a way that invites the public to look for flaws . . . We want to avoid trading old problems in for new ones.


Anonymous said...

I agree 100% and have written a letter to the editor of the OD of my own. I have dealt with the roundabout on Griffiss 10 times a week for the last three years, and I still dread driving through there. I've been in more near-misses there than I care to count. A roundabout at Oneida Square will not solve the traffic problems - it will make them measurably worse, given local drivers' unfamiliarity with traffic circles.

Anonymous said...

What about the severe water problems that have been occurring in the Sherman Hills area of New Hartford, (i.e. Pleasant Street, Sylvan Glen and Narla Lane to name just a few.)

Also, what about the $11,000 the Town of New Hartford paid the City of Utica due to severe flooding crossing over Pleasant Street (near Sylvan Glen Road) onto the property of people living on Parkway East, City of Utica?

It does appear that the Town Highway Supervisor is cherry picking inconsequential areas and spending the $2,000,000 for their political cronies?