Sunday, December 14, 2008

Feeding Frenzy . . .

The feeding frenzy has begun, and all our local politicos are making up their shopping lists on how to spend the billions of dollars expected to flow from Washington during the new administration. Some of the ideas are good, but others represent more of the wrong-headed thinking that has ruined this region:
Everything from tax credits to incentives for green jobs, from alternative energy projects to direct assistance for local governments, is being considered, elected officials said.
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong on all of these. . . These just give money away. We need infrastructure, baby, infrastructure!
State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, suggested New York state and its counties could benefit from federal assistance with the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, which would “allow us to spend less and hopefully reduce taxes as a result.”
Wrong! First, no problem is solved. New York State's Medicaid problem is self-created with the state determining benefits and passing half its share of the costs to the counties. The state either needs to pick up the entire state share or let the counties have control over benefits. Second, its not infrastructure!

One of the first projects officials at every level point to is Oneida County’s $66 million sewer problem.

“It’s without a doubt the biggest infrastructure project we’ve had probably in the past 50 years,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said.
Wrong . . . Because it rewards bad behavior. The County violated the law and the Town of New Hartford was its biggest accomplice and beneficiary of the illegality. Both should pay.

I propose an alternative project: Utica will be under orders to do something about its combined sewer overflows, the remediation of which could bankrupt the city -- or its citizens when the cost shows up in the city sewer fees. I presume other munis in the region are in the same boat. There was no wrong doing here. Let the Federal Government pick up the tab for separating the old combined storm and sanitary sewers that we find in the older sections of Utica and our villages and/or otherwise bring them into compliance with new standards.

Picente said he’d like to see state Route 840 extend all the way to Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome.

Excellent Idea . . . But I would go farther . . . We need what was dreamed of 40 years ago as the "NuWay" - - - an Interestate highway going south to the southern tier and north to the border. If it were to pass by Griffiss, Griffiss would be that much better positioned to be an inland port.

Improvements to the North/South Arterial in Utica.
Excellent Idea . . . as long as they are nicely landscaped, create no visual barriers, and they reestablish the street grid in West Utica.
Improvements to the state’s rail system are also important, Arcuri said.

“We should be looking statewide to improve rail from Buffalo to New York City through Utica,” he said.
Excellent Idea . . . But let's be sure that when the rail improvements go through Utica, there is still a STOP in Utica!

As far as extending Broadband internet goes, there is clearly some wrongheaded thinking on this:
Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce President Frank Elias said he agreed. More individuals or businesses that want fast Internet service could move to outlying areas, he said.

“There could be a migration of tech workers into rural regions and that could spur economic activity,” he said.
Just what we do NOT need to do: encourage more people to leave the cities and plop themselves in the stix where they will demand costly services and expect everyone else to pay for them. We need to encourage people to locate themselves in compact communities where services can be provided at a reasonable cost.

Missing from the list: Cleanup of contaminated sites. This needs to be a #1 priority.


Anonymous said...

ASusual, all great points, Strrike. I have just A FEW words to add:


Infrastructure improvements, contamination cleanup and historic enhancements will bring potential heritage tourism dollars into the area, a multi-million dollar industry just waiting to be tapped into. (Do you realize that the Adirondack Scenic Railroad brings in over ten thousand riders annually during its Polar Express event, most from out of town?) This helps restaurants, hotels, antiques shops, retail, etc.

And who want to come to Utica? A LOT OF PEOPLE who appreciate great architecture, great food, history, art, culture and heritage. Maybe soon we will have a FUNCTIONAL AND WORTHWHILE TOURISM AGENCY that actually promotes the area, not just some shooks own private agenda.

We can no longer be the dumping ground for all of the state's social service needs. We have enough of our own problems, MANY of which have been relocated from downstate; WE DO NOT NEED TO IMPORT MORE.

We have a lot to offer, and we are some of the last ones to realize it. That MUST change!

Strikeslip said...

yes, Yes and YES!!!

Anonymous said...

Wrong, wrong wrong.

First of all Griffo must have a screw loose to even make that suggestion.

Heritage tourism??? You mean like all the money spent on Fort Stanwix and its new $6 million visitor center that brings in 14 people a month? Yea, that sure went well. Families and kids would rather go to a waterpark.

I laugh at any idea that mentions the arts or heritage in the same sentence with economic development. Again, families don't want to take the kids to visit the outright boring. Fort Stanwix is boring. Same goes for the Stanley and the zoo. How much pork is going into these money loosing pigs?

Harbor Point? Have you ever been to the wonderful empty waterfront park in the City of Amsterdam? Baggs Square - what? A tourist attraction for who? - maybe for the the freaks mentioned on this weeks Saturday night live. Rutger Park - can't wait to bring the children to visit this wonderful attraction. Sounds like a freakin' porkfest for special interest groups.

Lets use the money for what it is should be intended for - infrastructure improvements. There could be no bigger and better improvement for the City of Utica, than to pave all its streets, replace the sidewalks, repair the waterlines and fix the sewer problems. Clean the place up and outsiders won't think that it is the dump that it is today. Extend 840 (without traffic lights), cleanup the north/south arterial, cleanup the contamination and when we're done with that, then, and only then, should we consider wasting money on the special interest group projects.

.... and lets not discriminate against our rural friends. They deserve high speed internet just as much as the city slickers.Elias made his comment because he is looking for someplace, heck anyplace, for his chamber to represent.