Broadway Utica


by Natalie Williams


bamboozle | bamˈbo͞ozəl |

verb [with object] informal

fool or cheat (someone): Tom Sawyer bamboozled the neighborhood boys into doing it for him.

• confound or perplex: bamboozled by the number of savings plans being offered.

ORIGIN  early 18th century: of unknown origin.

I went the ’open to the public’ meeting for the Utica DRI on Wednesday,  February 19, 2020. DRI stands for Downtown Reinvestment Initiative. I had previously attended a league of Women’s voters event at the Utica Public Library, were the community representative from the City of Utica had talked about how the 10 million dollar award by the state would be used for the betterment of the downtown Utica area; with the goal of making it more accessible, beautiful and functional for businesses and shoppers alike. I was interviewed commenting that ‘I think that the city already knows which projects it wants”. This was posted on WKTV, and the reporter stressed that the City claimed that ‘this is not the case’. I was not convinced that the ‘open call for projects’ would indeed be fair, and as expected; my attendance at the meeting confirmed this.

The open call for projects resulted in $15 million in requests for the $10 million that the City of Utica will receive. The public was allowed to witness a presentation by a firm; Elan – which had speaker Laura Nash explain the projects under consideration. Elan had made some posters of the nearly thirty projects under consideration. All of the art projects were clustered under one poster; “Project E”, and these had a total ‘ask’ of $150,000. There were $15 million in Utica DRI ‘asks’; one percent of which was for ‘arts projects’. One percent… That’s just one penny for ‘the arts projects’ if you only had a dollar to spend – on everything asked for.

The projects that the City of Utica wanted to fund were on the low number posters – and had the highest costs. These posters called for the repair of parking city and privately owned parking lots, and for providing financial assistance to various businesses which owned buildings in the designated ‘downtown map area’ for renovations.

As a fun exercise, the public was asked to ‘participate in the process’ of whittling down the $15 million in ‘asks’ to only $10 million; by getting $10 million in fake miniature money, to divvy up among the projects which they would favor approval of. After really considering what I personally wanted – I chose to put my ‘monopoly money’ into community projects and arts projects.

It is hard to wrap your mind around how much money ten million dollars is.

Given that; I suggest that you use this analogy. If 10 million dollars was represented as 10 dollars, then $150 thousand would be represented as almost 67 cents. [ That is because the proportion 10000000 dollars / 150000 dollars = 66.66 cents. ]. That’s a really unbalanced distribution of funds. – I mean how cheap and unfair is it to have ten dollars to spend, and only offer to possibly pay 67 cents for the things that make the city a better place? I feel that I am far better served supporting community activities and artistic endeavors. And, why should the public be paying the other $9.33 for the city to fix up their parking lots and help pay for businesses to fix up their buildings? Again, it appears that yet another con game is being presented as a public service; and the needed funds for improvement of the City of Utica’s downtown will be subsumed into paying for hand-picked projects ‘that the City wants’; not ones that feed projects that the people of Utica want. I chose to put my ’monopoly money’ into the top slotted cans as a ‘vote’ to indicate my support of the repairs of community centers, and funding for community services & activities, and art projects.

In an effort to claim ‘transparency’; all of the information regarding the projects chosen for consideration of the $10 million New York State grant money are to be posted to I encourage you, dear Utica public, to examine the choices and consider what you might choose to spend the ten million dollars on.

There have been changes to the original meeting schedule.  The next local planning meeting is on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 from 2 – 4 pm at the ThINCubator located at 326 Broad Street. The last public meeting will be on Wednesday April 8, 2020.

For more information; Please visit the New York State website on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Program at the following link:   and

UTICA Downtown ReInvestment Initiative UPCOMING EVENTS


*Date Change: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 2:00 – 4:00 pm




*Date Change: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

All events located at the thINCubator, 326 Broad Street, Utica


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