Friday, April 30, 2010

Let's Bulldoze Utica . . . Part Two

The OD's assault on Utica continues . . .

Our view: Improve Utica by changing the mindset
AT ISSUE: No room in Cornell plan for Debbie Downer and Gloomy Gus

Yet for a good half-century, too many Uticans have wallowed in negativity, repeating like a mantra a series of truths, half-truths and mistruths that remain detrimental to the city’s image. You’ve heard them all. It was a mob town. . . .

Who has a fixation on Utica's mob past? Certainly not the people living in Utica, most of whom were not even born when those things happened. Certainly not the new immigrants . . . Oh, I know . . . It is the local newspaper that periodically dredges up 50-year-old mob stories on the thinnest pretext . . .
Cities that have barely half their former population need to downsize — getting rid of empty but once-beloved eyesores and corralling growth and commerce into areas where services are easy to provide.
If mean that, OD, then lets bulldoze Sangertown Mall which is showing signs of age and "corral" retail back into Utica where the services have always been  easy to provide.  And lets bulldoze that arterial too . . . That way we could "corral" Uticans into shopping in their own city.  But, of course, you don't mean that, OD . . . That would require your suburban friends to give up some things. 

Just how does the OD expect Utica to pay for the corralling?  And what about the infrastructure already in place? Should we throw it away (while extending more infrastructure into New Hartford)?  And what about the loss to Utica's tax base that will occur? Is New Hartford offering to make up for the lost tax base?  The OD would have Utica dig its own grave before forcing it to jump in and burying it.   
When your family grows and relocates, it’s still family. Until we embrace a more regional attitude, we’ll continue to sputter in our own little corners.
Why is every OD directive to Utica coupled with a "regional attitude" theme?

Utica has done more than embrace the regional attitude. It ponied up with money and assets.  It gave the suburbs its water system, its sewer system, and paid half the acquisition costs of land for the road that gets people there. Utica residents in their water and sewer rates still subsidize the cost of the extra miles of water and sewer pipes needed to transport water and wastewater to and from the suburbs because the authorities insist that everyone must pay the same rates.  Uticans even pay to pump water uphill to allow development on the hills in New Hartford ... but New Hartfordans don't pay more.  Why is that?   Uticans paid for half of the study to solve the sewer consent order problem -- a problem created by suburban development -- and will pay for a quarter of the 180 million dollar solution.

For years and years, well-heeled people who could well afford to pay Utica taxes took advantage of Utica's offerings but escaped paying by moving across the municipal line. That forced the fewer people left behind to pay more -- and made Utica less affordable to newcomers. If we really are a "family," then the spoiled bratty suburban kids need to grow up and stop hitting grandma up for more while she lies on her deathbed.  The suburbs need to share what they have.

A Regional Attitude is NOT lacking in Utica. It's lacking in the suburbs. . . . and in the editorial board of the Observer-Dispatch.


Anonymous said...

Take a deap breath. Although one may sympathize with the light of Utica, one should not attribute what has happened to a some half baked paranoia aimed at the suburbs.No one forced Utica to sell its water rights. The regionalization effort was spearheaded by an elected Mayor, and elected County Board Leader from Utica and the elected mayor's chief development guy, DiMeo. And, was it not approved by the City Council? And, how about a Utica School board record of poor performance, over spending, bad politcs and constant fighting; allby elected representatives. Then we have city public policy determined by elected leaders to pour hundreds of millions of dollars for decades into an impossible dream of "downtown" redevelopment while allowing its own residential neighborhood infrastructer rot. This included resurecting a hotel that a chimp knew wouldn't work draining tens of millions from CDBG funds that should be invested in neighborhoods. A book could be written describing the suicide of Utica. Blanket condemnation of the suburbs is a very incomplete view as well as counterproductive to the future. Utica has been its own worse enemy. Until that is understood, it will never improve, or grow.

Anonymous said...

The waste of the suburbs and the decline of Utica go hand in hand, and were caused by the same factors. Apathy, corruption, and incompetence. The citizens and leadership of Utica have not shown why they deserve being the hub of Strikeslip's treasured Greater Utica fantasy. I respect Strike's learned opinions, and I find many beautiful things in Utica worth saving. However, there is no reason to believe that the pool of leadership or the citizenry available to direct Utica, Greater or no, would be any more competent or noble. I suspect, though, that perhaps Strike wouldn't mind putting Miss Diana Lenska or Ms. Harris-Lockwood in charge...

Strikeslip said...

For Anonymous 1 above

"No one forced Utica to sell its water rights."

True . . . But it does not change the fact that Utica did so at the prodding of the OD, and that by doing so, Utica subsidizes the suburbs to its detriment . . . and that Utica continues to subsidize the suburbs in the several areas that I discussed. But the subsidy is never reported upon in the OD, so suburban residents don't recognize it.

I am not condemning the suburbs, I am condemning the OD for being incomplete. My view here is not intended to be "complete" . . . it is to supplement what you are not being told in the newspaper.

What is "counterproductive" is the press' failure to explain to suburban residents how they depend on Utica, and that unless THEY do something about helping Utica (because Utica has long been beyond helping itself) THEY and the rest of the region are going to fail when Utica fails.

For Anonymous 2

"The citizens and leadership of Utica have not shown why they deserve being the hub . . .". I agree, the leadership has been terrible--for decades. But I would not blame the citizens... They are more the innocent victims rather than the perpetrators of Utica's nonsense.

"there is no reason to believe that the pool of leadership or the citizenry available to direct Utica, Greater or no, would be any more competent or noble" I agree there too. One only has to look at the Town of New Hartford's recent history and Village of Whitesboro's recent financial fiasco to see that the suburbs really are little different that Utica.

A "Greater Utica fantasy" would not make leaders more competent or honest. However, it would change the perspective among those making the decisions. It would become impossible to decide, eg, on what is "best" for New Hartford without determining how it will affect Utica or Whitestown. Bulldozing Utica neighborhoods might make sense in a consolidated city if the impact on the tax base is neutral. But the consolidated city would first have to decide just how much sprawl it wants to tolerate . . . and how much it can afford. At least with a consolidated city everyone would share the costs, the benefits, and the decision making. That is why I feel so strongly about this. A single regional municipality -- one centered on our common infrastructure -- is what Utica and its suburbs need to be moving toward.

Regarding Princess Lenska and Ms. Harris-Lockwood: I have yet to meet the former, and she is so new to the scene that she must be given a chance to prove herself -- I like what I see so far. I have been honored to work with the latter over the past many months while writing for the Phoenix, and I appreciate the opportunity given to me to put my thoughts in print. Even if one does not agree with her viewpoints, she works extremely hard to help make Utica a better place ... and that is the most important thing in my book!

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the OD references. But, my major complaint relative to Utica is that the OD has basically championed and promoted one issue, that of downtown redevelopment. Part of the rational realtes to Donovan's stint in Burlington, the other to the fact that the OD's parent companies have and do own their downtown property. But, the OD can't "force" anybody to do anything. If politicians do not have the courage to stand up to the paper, we are in more trouble than we think. Another fact of life is that Uticans elect County Executives and County Board members. Why do they not articulate the City/ suburban issues and urged to do so constantly by Utica officials? Why does Utica not pas a commututer tax law to wake everyone up? The bottum line is that the OD paranoia goes only so far in explaining Utica's decline.

Anonymous said...

Adding the proverbial two cents, their are two down side to the self proclaimed princess.The first involves money.One is highly suspect of charges for knighthood. But,most important this whole idea of royalty in America is foreign,although the self proclaimed princess is not.I have spoken with some of her disciples including Mrs.Lockwood and am not pleased. The mere idea that someone from new Jersey who refers to herself as HRH and professes to reform and enhance our American society and its values is rugnant, or at least should be to most. We have no plave fior class distinction in America. Our liberal foundation is the opposite. Poland is now as well as a budding democracy being built on classical western liberal traditions. Neither we nor they need,the "titled", fake or not to scold is and tell us how to live. Madame Lenska and her supporters should stick strictly to history and promotion of Polish contributions. They from what I can tell now border on the foolish.It is interesting that they do share in the OD paranoia trait. I can understand Mrs.Lockwood since she runs a competing enterptise. But, those who knock the OD for simply doinf its job in fact checking the Lenska claims are way out of bounds. One can't have it both ways, the OD is either to be an investigative news organ or not.

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous - Why is Princess Lenska relevant to the conversation about bulldozing Utica? That said . . .

Assuming that there are "charges for knighthood" (I haven't seen that yet) how would that be different from the Stanley charging people to be designated a "Founder" ($10K+), "Patron" ($5-10K) or "Star" ($2.5K - $5K)? Or from a church putting your name on a stained glass window when you make a particular level of contribution?

What exactly is it about Ms. Lenska or what she has done thus far that is "repugnant?"

Ms. Lenska has as much right to call herself "Princess" as that musical artist that formerly called himself "Prince" -- or me calling myself "Strikeslip." How does this become "class distinction?"

You said she "professes to reform and enhance our American society and its values." I'm not sure what you are trying to say by that. There is nothing to suggest that she wants to install a monarchy either here or in Poland . . . if that is what you were trying to say.

When did she ever "scold is (sic) and tell us how to live"?

My understanding is that she wants to promote Polish culture . . . and has taken a step with the Montecassino exhibit. What ever could be wrong with that? Perhaps it is because "someone from new Jersey" took the initiative to do it first, before one of our other local organizations?

This is just like the 20th century when the local mill owners got together to keep Ford out . . . because they did not want to have to compete with Ford for our local "cheap labor."

The real issue with Ms Lenska is that she is an outsider . . . She is seen as a threat to the local power base.


Anonymous said...

Strikeslip. If to help make Utica a better place is the most important thing in your book, it is less than apparent in your writing's. You come across as a very negative, rebel against all leadership, the sky is always falling and here's the only way to fix it pidgeon holed same ol' same ol' type. If making Utica a better place is REALLY the most important thing in your book then why don't you stop re-writing the same few chapters over and over and move on to the chapter where you make a difference instead of just complaining?

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous -- Maybe the truth hurts. Sorry.

I'll let my readers judge whether I just complain or if I point out where our leaders are wrong and what they need to do to make things right.

As far as doing things other than blogging . . . I do what I can ... in my own way, on my own time and within my limitations and responsibilities.

If you don't like reading the "same few chapters" no one is forcing you.

Anonymous said...

The answer is that the HRH name was mentioned as a bit of a jest to Strikeslip and I just used it as an entre to a larger sense of the topic. I'm astounded that any sensible person would view someone as near comical as HRH as a threat to the power base! What a strange reference to, "keeping her out." Last I knew, she was here. Keeping out and being aware of false enterprises, bogus titles, etc., are very different matters. I agree that what this lady wants to call herself is her business. But, the whole royalty, HRH, anti- Americanism pitch is repulsive to me.But, I guess we'd be all be better off if we just recognized high camp when we see it.Sorry, I was wrong to reintroduce HRH in any depth but recent discussions with her fans were very upsetting.

Strikeslip said...

All the verbiage used to attack Ms Lenska (what she does, says, calls herself) is evidence that at least as to the complaining writers, Ms Lenska is perceived to be a threat to the status quo. . . . whether they admit or not.

onjeesun said...


First I would say that you are critical, not necessarily negative ... you do often, but not always address many of the same topics and/or themes... and you do so with a unique perception and knowledgeability ... plus you are willing to take the time to share those traits. It seems you also offer suggestions and ideas to go along with most of your "complaints". I enjoy your blog.

Having ackowledged that, I was up to Hinckley at my camp today and it appears to me that the water is about the same level now as it was the 3rd week of June back in '07 when we had the big shortage. I don't know if there are records available to the public to look at the previous years levels but I'd be curious. I realize we can't predict long term rainfull amounts but I'm really surprised it's not at least being talked about. It's pretty low. There was at one point a daily "water watch" in the paper but....

Has it been so long that people have become complacent already?

onjeesun said...

...and just like that there's an article in todays paper. Maybe people ARE paying attention.