Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bossert Brownfield Bonanza . . .

Finally . . . some good news to wake up to: Former Bossert site removed from Superfund list (WKTV); Bossert site attracting developers (OD); Bossert site can now be redeveloped (News 10 Now).

Redevelopment of the Bossert brownfield site will not only be good for Utica, but good for the entire region. . . . especially when you think about what people are going through to develop a greenfield in New Hartford.

  1. The taxpayers benefit. They will not have to pay to extend services and infrastructure to support development because such are already present.
  2. The environment benefits. No destruction of animal habitat, wetlands, etc. will occur. The street grid is already present to handle traffic.
  3. The neighborhood benefits. The neighborhood originally grew up around the former tenant of the site, and, to some extent, depended upon it. After the tenant left, the neighborhood went into decline. Redevelopment of the right type could give a reason for the neighborhood to revive. . . . Meanwhile, greenfield development in a suburb will drive some people out.
  4. Businesses benefit. They will be more conveniently located, being closer to the center of the region's population.
  5. Both city and suburb benefit. Cities are intended and designed to be the centers of economic activity. Suburbs are where people go to live and get away from the commotion. Brownfield development reinforces this arrangement. Greenfield development simultaneously saps cities of their vitality while destroying the peace and quiet and the landscapes of the suburbs.
Now, city, state, county, EDGE and industrial development officials need to get their heads together to make this happen.

The city needs to develop -- with its citizens -- and with expert advice -- a vision for the area and stick to it, to enable potential investors to determine consistency with their business plans.

The state needs to ensure that redevelopment of the Arterial does not disrupt the street grid any more than it already has -- and to consider re-establishing more of the grid. Land-locking parcels or making them difficult to get to is contrary to what a city is supposed to be.

The county needs to revise its policies to encourage more development in Utica, Rome, and the villages instead of cheer-leading sprawl. Incentives should be confined to developments where infrastructure and services are already in place and are under-utilized.

EDGE and industrial development officials need to spend more time crafting 'deals' that address the practical concerns of developing on a brownfield (eg. who will be liable for cleanup if contamination is discovered) and less on 'deals' that transfer wealth from taxpayers to developers.

If the Bossert site is redeveloped, it can be a win for everyone.

1 comment:

clipper said...

There are many sites in the city that can be remarketed to industry, much cheaper and more efficiently than developing new sites and adding to the sprawl. It seems that there is a very large area from the Patio Drive-in to the Dunlop plant between Erie St and Oriskany St That could be redeveloped to accomodate small industry.

It seems that EDGE and our regional leaders are interested in promoting the Marcy site for the chip plant, and the Griffiss Industrial Park, while ignoring the Utica area and it's citizens and workers.

Instead of tax incentives for hotels, we should be looking at luring business back to the city from suburban areas such as NH, by offering a better deal than they do, and insuring that they comply with the tax deal requiremnt to maintain a level of employment, and to pay applicable payments on government loans etc. No more Hotel Utica deals with taxpayer money.

As far as the OD concern with the drugstore situation, the citizens in the downtown towers manage to use the pharmacies on Mohawk and South, and on Court St in W Utica.

I don't think any company is going to build a store to serve hotel and motel guests in bustling downtown Utica, with it's TWO hotels, that already have little areas that sell sundries such as asprin and tums.

A good choice to court for occupation of the Bossert site would be a discount grocery chain such as Save-a-lot, or Aldi's. An inner city neighborhood would really benefit from such a store, and the arterial access would make it feasible for other areas of the city to find it convenient to patronize.

The economic status and income level of a majority of the inner city residents would make such a store a goldmine for the company as well as the customers. We need a store that sells low priced, generic brand groceries, and has a no frills atmosphere that fosters low prices and caters to the less wealthy.