Thursday, December 01, 2011

Arterial: Regionalism and Expertise . . .

The OD has an interview in today's paper with Mayor-elect Palmieri: City workers need more active role . His comments on the Arterial project are troubling:
He also said that while he understands the concerns from some officials and community members over the state’s proposed $62 million North-South Arterial project, he believes it will benefit the region.
"Region?" Here we go again!   I thought Mr. Palmieri was elected to be mayor of UTICA!
“Those are the professionals,” he said of the state Department of Transportation. “Those are the engineers and planners. You’ve got to have confidence in them.”
One should have confidence in DOT's engineers and planners in designing a highway . . . but they are not the experts in the lives of everyday Uticans. Decisions that may make sense from a regional perspective are horribly disruptive when taken down to the city level.

Case in point: If you were driving from S. Utica to Varick St. you would probably get on Sunset Avenue and go straight to Varick. No turns needed . . . . That's today. After the proposed Arterial project, the northern end of Sunset would be cut off from you. If you were proceeding north on Sunset, you would have to turn Right on Lincoln (where Sunset is blocked), turn Right on Roberts (because the N end of Lincoln will be blocked), turn Left on State, turn Left on Court, then Right onto Varick. Five turns required.

DOT officials tout the proposed ability to make lefts onto Court St coming off the future arterial from north or south as improving access to Varick and Downtown. Yes, that will be a good thing for people coming from New Hartford or Marcy. But S. Uticans will be seriously inconvenienced as above. N Uticans trying to reach Varick have ALREADY been inconvenienced by the State's cut-off of Whitesboro St. -- which was their most direct route to Varick St.

Simply put, the convenience of Uticans is being sacrificed for the convenience of suburban commuters. You do not need to be a traffic engineer to see this. Perhaps you need to NOT be a traffic engineer to see this because the traffic engineers don't seem to comprehend the disruptions they are causing within the city.

It's more than Uticans' convenience that is being sacrificed for suburban commuters. Utica's economic potential is also being sacrificed.

Another case in point:  Utica's economic development area on Whitesboro St. north of the Auditorium.  A beautiful piece of property, formerly the site of the Washington Courts housing project, all is now cleared, and infrastructure is in place including new sidewalks. Try getting there!  The cut-off of Whitesboro Street makes this site less accessible . . . and less likely to be developed.

Sunset Avenue will become the new Whitesboro Street after the Arterial project is completed. Existing businesses will wither . . . new businesses will be few . . . crime will increase . . . residents will suffer.

Utica leaders need to wake up!


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Mayor elect is recognizing Utica's decline within the region. After all, it is a shadow of its former self in all ways. Plus, your depiction of Varick St. and the economic development site is inflated. Varick is basically a drinking center while the former Washington Courts site is tiny by development standards.Utica is not a regional center in any sense of the concept. That distinction was lost generations ago. Palmieri would best concentrate on neighborhood/ housing related issues.

Keith said...

A few days ago you wrote that New Hartford leaders should be forced (perhaps in court) to think regionally. Now you write that Utica leaders should not think regionally.

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous - If "Utica is not a regional center in any sense of the concept" then what jurisdiction in this area is the regional center?

Keith - You are very perceptive! Utica leaders have thought regionally for well over 50 years: (1) When Utica was full to capacity Utica political leaders used their then-considerable clout to bring Griffis AFB to Rome to keep the region growing. (2) Utica taxpayers paid half of the acquisition cost for the property needed by the original N-S Arterial which literally paved the way for New Hartford's growth. (3) Utica agreed to a part county sewer district -- now controlled by suburbs ganging up with non-participating municipalities -- where lines, un-needed by city residents, were extended into the suburbs with city residents paying most of the cost. This allowed both New Hartford and Whitestown to grow. (4) Utica agreed to a "regional" take over of its water system where "everyone" pays the same rates even though suburban water service requires water to be transported further -- and to areas with fewer customers per square mile -- meaning that city residents are subsidizing lower suburban water rates.

Utica has thought "regionally" so much that it has become the "regional doormat."

Utica needs to think about its own survival at this point. THAT IS WHAT IS BEST FOR THE REGION. If Utica goes down, the Region goes down with it.

Anonymous said...

The business center of the region is Rome; the commercial center is New Hartford. The arts center is Utica. There is no regional center in the sense of the word, which really is your point as you ticked off what has been lost to or misguided in Utica.

Strikeslip said...

Interesting response... No doubt about the arts and commercial centers if we are going to have to hyphenate definitions of regional center. I'm interested in how you reached the conclusion about Rome being the "business" center?

I like looking at population. Utica is clearly the regional population center, with Rome and Herkimer being secondary population centers. ...

The population centers should be the foundations on which to restructure local governments ... since municipal services are only affordable with population density.

Utica is also the educational center with Utica College, MVCC, U School of Commerce, MWP-Pratt, St E School of Nursing in city and SUNYIT just across the border.

Utica is also the government center being the county seat and with the State offices.

Utica is also the region's media center.

So I guess its not the regional center of old. Just a bunch of qualified centers.

Anonymous said...

Rome the "business center"? Gimme a break. The city's glory days are long gone & it has a worse drug abuse problem then Utica does. This shows how inept local leadership is. Destito, Griffo & Picente are all from Rome & the city is in worse shape then Utica is.

Anonymous said...

Look at a map - Utica is the center with New Hartford, Whitesboro, New York Mills and Frankfort in its direct orbit. NH and Whitestown combined population is 2/3 total of Utica's. Ridiculous assertion that Rome is the regional center.

The arterial should be a boulevard with center left lanes - like the Seneca Turnpike. Then easy access east and west, Bosserts site could be developed as a shopping area etc.

Utica needs an expressway no more than Clinton does.


Anonymous said...

I guess all of you guys should visit the former Griffiss Air Base and now business center. It is located in the city of Rome. The only area that comes close to it as a business center is the old airport park because of BNY Mellon, Met Life and the bus company. The central point is that their is no one regional center in our area which is probably part of our problem. That characteristic is the result of the sprawl often mentioned here. A smart Mayor of Utica will recognize the realty and therefore stress what he can accomplish and not tilt at windmills trying to live up to a condition long gone.

Anonymous said...

Griffo, Destito, Picenti, all voted to be regional political leaders. What does that say? The answer is pretty obviuos by the numbers; they have presided over severe economic and population decline while they keep winning elections. it would be very interesting for a study to be done illustrating why fewer and fewer vote at all here and why the few who do vote vote as they do. An honest study of this nature would pretty much sum up the area.