At his “State of the City” address in May, Mayor David Roefaro called plans for a downtown parking garage his “most ambitious project for the city.”The "prohibitive cost" claim does not add up. The garage was supposed to be funded by grants which were already in hand. There is nothing in the story that even suggests that any of these grants may have been lost. In fact, it seems to reaffirm that they still are there when it states that half of the money will still be used for a Centro transfer facility at the same Bleecker/Charlotte location and that the other half can now be available for surface parking.
While it’s still a possibility, Roefaro said for the first time this week that it’s now likely the city will move in a different direction entirely.
The reason, he said, is that the $10 million cost of building the garage is prohibitive, and some of the money could possibly be better spent on a series of surface parking lots.
This sudden change in City direction coincides with the City's appointment of a new economic development director. Simultaneously, per the article's side bar we learn . . .
Oneida County [Executive] Anthony Picente said the city’s plans to explore all options for downtown parking are an opportunity to renew his call to close Park Avenue near the Oneida County Office Building and build more parking there.
Picente said the only thing the county would need from the city for the project – estimated at $2 million when the Common Council voted it down in 2007 – is to convey the street to the county. But he said some of the roughly $4.5 million the city has in grant money for downtown parking could be used to help.Are the appointment of a new ED director and Mr. Picente's call connected? We seem to remember the same plays at the end of the Julian administration when buildings couldn't come down fast enough to create more parking. (In fact, the destruction was one of the reasons why people voted for Mr. Roefaro, who appeared sensitive to what was happening.) Is the mayor a semi-figurehead? Allowed to do things his way just "so far" until the regional "powers that be" behind the scenes decide to step in?
The "change in direction" makes no sense unless regional politics is considered. The grant money was intended to solve a downtown Utica parking problem for buildings along Genesee, not to solve the County's parking problem on Park Ave.
But now, apparently, the County expects Utica residents to give up the grant, give up the downtown garage, give up more buildings to the bulldozer, and give up a street, to cater to the needs of those in the County's court/office complex. It sounds like more Oneida County trashing Utica. And the current Democrat mayor's going along with it is just like the prior Republican mayor's going along with it.
The County "powers that be" in the courthouse spent $40 million renovating the interior of the courthouse for their own comfort and aesthetic pleasure, but left the exterior a pig sty and didn't bother to address parking. That's the regard they have for their hosts. Now they want the citizens of Utica to fix parking for them.
Enough is enough.