Monday, April 20, 2009

Renewing Rutger St.

There is an interesting article in the Utica Daily News that reveals that a Rescue Mission program brings released prison inmates into a Utica neighborhood.

The neighborhood is the area abutting Rutger Park -- a place of historically significant structures, the center of a an ambitious renovation project by the Landmarks Society, and the hope of many in the region as the beginning of a revival of the City of Utica itself.

How will the Rescue Mission's program affect the success of a revival? Apparently significantly. The UDN article reports that there has been a "disinvestment of the neighborhood" and a lot of "transient activity."

What is happening is exactly the opposite of what we want for Utica.

While most would understand the need for halfway houses and facilities to transition former prisoners back into society, there are too many questions in the UDN article that have yet to be answered by public officials. Because of the secretiveness of those responsible, one is left with the impression that the local facility is being used to transition dangerous prisoners who are not from Utica into our local society. This does not benefit Utica.

Who benefits? The Rescue Mission's Form 990 tells us about the organization. It is a good organization, and a needed one. However, it is also one that is run primarily by people who do not live in Utica and are not directly impacted by the organization's activities. The five corporate officers are ALL from New Hartford. The highest paid employees are from Washington Mills (New Hartford), Barneveld, and Deerfield. Of the 7 addresses listed for Board Members, only 3 are in Utica, 2 of which appear to be office addresses rather than residential ones. Perhaps the residences of those running the organization explain the lack of sensitivity to the negative impact that is being caused to Utica.

Those that do public good must also acknowledge when their activities may cause public harm, and either refrain from or relocate those activities that cause harm.


Anonymous said...

... and we are supposed to be surprised by this news?

Strikeslip said...

Maybe no surprise -- but more of a lack of recognition on the part of the general public -- and a refusal by public officials and charities to acknowledge -- the bad that sometimes comes with doing good.

Putting the situation out in the open and talking about it is the first step toward reaching an accommodation that works for everyone.

clipper said...

I see no good to come from a program that encourages any of the inmates being released from the area prisons to stay in the area. I would rather see them get the old parting gifts of a pair of cheap shoes, a cheap suit of clothes, and a bus ticket back to where they came from. It should be a condition of release. If they find their way BACK to Utica and Rome, that is something we have no control over, but to dump them on us from the day they get out is not fair, and should be discouraged by all of the area's citizens.

Tim Julian spoke out against it, and he was correct in doing so, although he stated that he didn't want it within 3 blocks of "HIS" downtown. I don't think it was HIS downtown.

It is strictly my own opinion that we house them in Central NY while they are incarcerated, and their families may migrate to the area, but I think it only fair to send them back to where they were convicted and tried, and let the families migrate back there also.

Anonymous said...

I cant seem to open the From 990

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised, why would the Rescue Mission do this?
Why should we be "accommodating" released prison inmates three blocks from the center of downtown is wrong.

Where is the main media on this?

Is the current mayor of the city of Utica supporting this program?

This story is almost unbelievable, I find myself outraged and sick to my stomach.

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone surprised? This is one of several institutions that import social problems into the City and area. The fact that they exist here is not the question.The fact that the community is by and large unaware is.This is particularly disturbing given the role public funding plays.Electd officials and the local media should fully air the situation.Only then can there be a reasoned community understanding and community consensus of the situation. Where is the Mayor of Utica? Does he have any grasp of the issue vis a vis the very core of the City he governs?

Anonymous said...

Remember a few years ago when they closed a bunch of mental health facilities and the ex-patients made their way to downtown. It is sure changed the look of downtown in a bad way.

Strikeslip said...

It's interesting that you mention that, Anonymous. Closure of the mental hospitals harmed Downtown -- But it, perhaps even more, contributed to the decline of West Utica because a lot of people who lived there also worked in the mental hospital there.

HOW necessary services are provided may determine if they produce an overall positive or negative for the community.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I think you hit the nail on the head.

The state privatizes the traditional service that it once provided; out sourced them to places like the Rescue Mission, in a part of town that lost any political clout.

Now what is left is a deteriorating mental health campus in west Utica, and the new private service provider, the Rescue Mission, chasing away private property owners in the middle of downtown.

The state destroyed two great neighborhoods and the local politician are to blind or inept to even realize that they have become a dumping ground.

Frankly said...

Yay Utica! Think Positive, people!

Anonymous said...

Utica has been a dumping ground for a long time. Of course, the elected officials realize it. They are dominated by Romans who do not care. The funny part is that Utica voters help elect them.