November 21st 2011 · 0 Comments
BY JIM ZECCA, COUNCILMAN
City of Utica
The Observer-Dispatch’s recent editorials promoting the current plans to develop the North/South Arterial into a highway that will cut-off downtown Utica and divide West Utica from the rest of the city is troubling, but not surprising.
I recently proposed a resolution calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step in and have the NYS DOT reconsider its current plan, and alternatively consider the more popular and less expensive multi-way boulevard. This is an approach that’s being taken by cities across the country. From Milwaukee, Providence, New Haven, Seattle, Akron, Buffalo, Oklahoma City, and all across the U.S. — cities are realizing that the model created roughly 40 years ago has destroyed the fabric of their inner-cities.
It has become clear that the “modern” roadway slicing through the heart of downtown would not bring the hoped-for suburban shoppers and revitalization. All this has accomplished is to encourage urban sprawl and allow people to fly through Utica without stopping to appreciate our fine culture and history, not to mention wonderful small businesses. It has wreaked havoc across the country.
However, as the rest of the nation works to fix this problem, we are being told to make the same mistake again. Once finished, it will be another 40-50 years before we get a chance to address it again. Why can’t we learn from our mistakes around here instead of repeating them? This is our chance.
The O-D maintains that we made a mistake decades ago when the arterial was built. They’re right, but the mistake was not in avoiding a elevated highway, it was in dividing this city. The real mistake was in the lack of clout and ability to secure that I-81 came through Utica. This would have been a real boom to the area, while still maintaining that the North/South Arterial remained a vital component to economic development and downtown attraction.
As a councilman, the people have entrusted me to stand up for their interests. I take that responsibility very serious. That means looking to the future, and not just what may be popular at the moment, or what the local newspaper says is right.
I find it suspect that this paper, who’s publisher is a resident of New Hartford, decided to write a prominent editorial about my proposal before even writing the news article. They say you should never pick a fight with someone that buys ink by the barrel. That’s not my intention. I intend to stand up for the residents of Utica and the future of our city.
—Councilman Jim Zecca
By Mark Ziobro