Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Merry Christmas, Downtown Utica Style

Well the decorations are up-yeah, I know pretty sad, huh?

Now before I am accused of being negative, a "hater,"I love Downtown. Even though we have allowed so much of our history and architectural heritage to be swept away by irresponsible property owners and short sighted politicians, downtown still crackles with the urban energy that all cities possess.

So, while driving down Genesee St. the other night, I was once again subjected to the yearly unveiling of the tattered and threadbare "decorations" that should have long ago been sent to the landfill.

Why can't we do better? I always go back to the Utica as corporation theory. See, we are a 64 million dollar business and we present ourselves as some bankrupt, has been city.

Certainly, if the maintenance of the infrastructure of our downtown is any example of what to expect, I guess I should not be surprised by the pathetic holiday display that city hall is responsible for trotting out each year. Many of the street lamps that the half-lit wreaths adorn do not work either. And that's it. Nothing more.

Take a ride 40 minutes west to Syracuse. That is a city government that is self-aware enough that they have the dedication to give their citizens a reason to come downtown for the holidays. Oh, the mayor of Utica will wax on about how "we are broke," that we, "have to do less with more." Tired excuses from an exhausting parade of fools wasting time at 1 kennedy Plaza.

When will someone that is responsible for allocating our tax dollars realize that the City of Utica is a product that needs promotion. We need to polish up our "brand." In fact, we need to have a brand!

What do we want to be? A broken-down city with its better days well behind us? Today, the Mayor of Watertown attacked Utica on a radio show in that quickly went viral. So, Roefaro to the rescue. He was actually in city hall, sans tie, grabbing a soundbite defending "his" town. He is going to make it right. A little late, I think.

Too bad we are so busy defending ourselves that we refuse to see what may be wrong with our city. The mayor only talks about how great we are when we are attacked. City government celebrates the status quo and does nothing to change the narrative. And the debate continues. The lights stay broken. The Christmas decorations get put up yet another year and they still don't work.

Mayor-elect Rob Palmieri used the slogan during his campaign, "Utica deserves better." Let's hope that means better downtown maintenance and Christmas decorations that actually work!


  1. Bob

    I couldn't agree more with this. That said, I think that people like you and I, who are totally familiar with the failings of government, need to stop waiting around for City Hall to do what's right. If the private sector wants better Christmas lights, the private sector should get better Christmas lights. Don't want to start the dreaded BID conversation again? Then why can't the Community Foundation come up with a challenge grant and let people like you and I raise the money to match it?

  2. Great Idea. as a new downtown resident, I have walked up and down Genesee St seeing what could be done. We have to take it upon ourselves to get things going. Since there are so few businesses right now, I think a BID is still premature - but I am hopeful that this time next year will be the right time!