Twenty Eighteen kicks off with another forward looking editorial from the OD that is heavy with excitement but light on facts: "Nexus Center good way to begin new year."
The planned development of the Nexus Center -- a tournament-based sports and recreation hub -- on the a 1.9-acre site just east of the Aud will be one more thing to keep the downtown renaissance moving forward. . . .That is all we are told about the financing. What we are not told is (1) that the Aud Authority has a limitation on bonded indebtedness of no more than $2,000,000 meaning the project will likely require County taxpayers to back the venture much like they did with the Aud expansion; (2) that the Aud Authority is still being involuntarily subsidized by the customers of the Mohawk Valley Water Authority (MVWA) to the tune of $732,000 annually as a matter of state law with mandated increases into the 2030s; and (3) that ownership by the Aud Authority means that another 1.9 acres of prime Downtown Utica property will be permanently removed from Utica's tax rolls.
. . . It’s likely be funded through public and private funds. . . .
The editorial cites Utica's central location and alleges a "need" for such venues to conclude that the center could "play a major role in economic development."
Utica Comets President Robert Esche has said that revenue would be based on out-of-towners coming here. The planned three sheets of ice could also be converted into lacrosse and soccer fields, he said earlier, so the complex could be capturing all sports, truly built around recreation, tournament-based play. He estimated it would mean roughly 300,000 to 350,000 out-of-towners coming to the area per year.If this is true, then why isn't the Comets organization building this facility with its own money, and keeping the property on the tax rolls? It seem that, again, money from MVWA customers and the credit of county taxpayers are being lent to a private venture.
In addition to creating an enterprising new venture in the city, this project also will eliminate a major downtown eyesore next to the vibrant Adirondack Bank Center auditorium. Demolition of Tartan has been scheduled, and depending on the weather, Annese said, it could be gone by the AHL All-Star Classic later this month. Previous asbestos contamination was abated when Bowers Development acquired the property last year -- and Bowers will pay for the demolition, Annese said.What are we to make of the fact that Bowers acquired the property and performed asbestos abatement just to sell it to the Aud Authority and pay for demolition a year later? It is doubtful that Bowers is being an altruistic angel. There is a story there that the OD is not telling us. Regardless, elimination of a Downtown "eyesore" is again an excuse for government to get in bed with a private enterprise.
The center is a key component of the proposed U District, first mentioned by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente in his 2017 State of the County message.Maybe we should start calling it the "Screw-U District?"