A couple days ago I thought the OD finally "got it" with its editorial "Revive the hearts of our communities" . . .
If we continue to sprawl without growth, we will continue to dilute the strength of our communities and force services to be provided over a wider area. That’s a recipe for higher taxes, not progress.Wow . . . I could have written that!
But then we read this the next day: "Tear down walls that separate us". . . .
While our individual towns and villages have many good qualities and can stand alone, we lack the cohesiveness — those little pegs — necessary to build one single, strong community . . .There is a fallacy in this statement. The individual towns and villages -- at least those in the Greater Utica area -- can NOT stand alone. With modern rules and regulations, these jurisdictions require public water and sewer facilities to support their current growth -- facilities that depend upon the population base in Utica to be economically feasible.
Could New Hartford exist without water and sanitary sewer services? Not in its present form. Could New Hartford afford its own separate water treatment plant and sewer systems? No. New Hartford depends on the population base in Utica to make those services, and it's very existence as a populated area, possible.
The shared water and sewer systems should have been the "little pegs" of cohesiveness to bring New Hartford (and other suburban jurisdictions) together with Utica. Instead, two separate units of government for two separate municipal services (the water authority and part county sewer district) were created to avoid the necessity of the suburban communities merging with Utica.
It is interesting to note that these two "regionalized" systems (one that the OD actively pushed for) are the very ones that now are about to bring the entire Greater Utica region down, the first via a Consent Order that the communities cannot afford, the second via a cap on the water that may be drawn from Hinckley reservoir that will hinder regional regrowth.
We must tear down the walls that separate us and build a sense of region. While many good ideas have been floated through the years by many bright people, we haven’t quite managed to find that one unifying element to knit us together.
We now have the unifying element (thanks to "regionalization"): fiscal ruin.
Now is time for the OD to recognize what is under its nose, and to eliminate its own "parochialism."
Happy New Year.