While it was nice to see recognition given to the new signs of life in the Uptown, Varick, Bleecker-Mohawk areas of Utica, the complaints about Downtown were a reprise of similar complaints last September when the lack of a drug store was seen as a problem.
What downtown Utica needs to create is something similar to downtown New Hartford. A few pubs and restaurants, some women’s clothing stores, a pharmacy and maybe a tailor and a shoe-repair shop. None by itself will draw visitors seven days per week, but in combination, they likely would.Downtown New Hartford???? At best "Downtown NH" is four-and-a-half corners and is really a neighborhood center for the Village of NH and for South Utica -- much like the other areas that the OD identified above. In fact, the entire village of New Hartford could probably fit within the area regarded as Downtown Utica. It is absolutely ridiculous for the OD to try to compare the two.
In the longer run, downtown might need more. A modernized Aud. A youth recreation center with ice and turf similar to one proposed by hockey star Robert Esche a few years back. And, someday, maybe a well-built and modern downtown stadium to serve high school, college and even maybe a pro baseball team. Dreaming for the long term is something Utica needs to do a lot more of.I hate it when the OD preaches to Utica leaders about what they should do, especially when it requires Utica residents to spend money that they do not have. Why should anyone in Utica listen to the OD? It has undermined the health of the city at every possible opportunity. OD has the nerve to tell Utica to dream while it has stomped on Utica's dreams for years.
A modernized Aud? Youth center with ice? Or a Stadium? Where does OD think Utica will get the funds from? The OD didn't write one word in support of then-mayor Julian's idea of SUNYIT putting its new field house downtown, even while other SUNY campuses were locating facilities to revive their nearby downtowns. In fact, it immediately wrote to squelch the idea.
I don't remember hearing any support from the OD for putting the Homeland Security Center or the State Data Center in Utica even though a large tax-exempt state campus sits in West Utica with half the buildings boarded up. Where's the push for Utica? Where's the outrage at the State-Slumlord?
Professional sports? What about professional hockey that the OD discouraged back in 2002, and discouraged again in 2005?
The OD pontificates, preaches, and points fingers at Utica, but, when it comes to Utica needing a hand, it does not lift even a pinky. . . . But it insists that Utica residents have to support regionalized sewer and water systems where Uticans lose more than they get back -- that Uticans must do this to enable the suburbs to grow their tax bases (while it erodes Utica's tax base). Where has OD ever told Uticans that Uticans are supporting through County tax breaks the very suburban developments that only draw more businesses out of Utica?
Over and over when the subject at public meetings turns to what Utica needs most, invariably someone mentions a new newspaper.
Utica's Downtown got the way it is over a period of many years. Downtown Utica's fabric was ripped apart by past 'improvement' projects that only made things worse. Can anyone remember 'Urban Renewal Project #1' 40 years ago and all the buildings that were demolished -- with many properties remaning vacant even today? How about the E-W Arterial, N-S Arterial, and all the 'improvements' to Oriskany Blvd that, to be sure, got traffic to flow better but which (1) ate up valuable land, (2) made some places harder to get to and (3) (poison for any 'Downtown' ) harder to walk to? It's OK to rip a city apart to shave a couple minutes off a suburban commute but what about the people and businesses nearby? They were invisible. Where was the OD when these decisions were made? Was there any analysis? Now the OD seems to think that government can create grocery, retail or drugstores out of thin air -- but it can only create environments that will hopefully lead to these things settling in.
If the OD is not going to contribute to Utica's well being with balanced in-depth analysis and reporting on its news pages, and sincerely advocate for Utica's well-being on its editorial pages (instead of taking cheap shots like the stupid comparison with New Hartford), OD should keep its mouth shut.
Uticans are tired of the OD biting the hands that feed it.