The plan to close Park Avenue for parking gained serious consideration in 2007 before the Common Council decided not to vote on it. It requires the approval of the Common Council and Oneida County Legislature to move forward.
Some of the concerns from four years ago have not changed – including that Park Avenue connects two of the city’s most historic parks: Chancellor Square Park and Rutger-Steuben Park. “Why the push for all this stuff now?” said Michael Bosak, president of the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica. “Why not wait for a new administration to come in rather than make decisions that can’t be turned around.”
Bosak also expressed concern about the traffic flow on John and Rutger streets if Park Avenue is closed.
The plans call for a walking trail where the road once was to keep the connectivity between the parks, Soggs said. It would result in about 90 new spaces, up from the roughly 500 currently there.Park Avenue is important to Utica's well being for both its function and form.
The 1950 Utica Master Plan's transportation section identifies Park Avenue as an important distributor street. Park Ave. performs this function by channeling traffic coming from the east around the Central Business District and moving it down to Oneida Square. The new Roundabout at Oneida Square will only improve this function. It is counterproductive to improve traffic functioning at one end of Park Ave. while completely blocking traffic at the other.
Park Ave. also serves as a visual axis, connecting Oneida Square, Steuben Park, and Chancellor Park (and, formerly, the site of Old Fort Schuyler before the E-W Arterial disrupted it). This is historic urban design. It is part of what gives Utica its distinctive character. It made Utica attractive at one point and can do so again if the design elements are reinforced with things as simple as plantings of street trees. The street width is an essential part of the design. People will not want to set up shop in Utica if it is unattractive. This old design needs to be dusted off and re-polished. Footpath "connectivity" simply does not do it.
“Nothing will work for us unless we have Park Avenue,” [County Executive Picente] said. “I don’t even want to talk about Charlotte Street unless we can do the Park Avenue plan.”Excuse me, Mr. County Executive, but why should Utica have to give up a traffic artery merely to provide parking for the County Buildings? Creating parking on Park Avenue will not make Downtown more attractive to private development. Did not the County just spend 40 million dollars renovating the interior of the Courthouse (while leaving the exterior as ugly as ever)? Has not the county spent over $100 million on its airport in Rome? Why can not the County spend $10 million and build a County parking garage in Utica?
Oh, I get it. It's because it's in Utica.