Mayor Rob Palmieri has been in office 8 months. In that time, we have been patiently waiting for the vision of the man at the top to be articulated to the populace. What economic development initiatives are in the works? What neighborhood development plans are being discussed? How will the budget deficit be addressed? What does our future hold?
Who's to know? There are no press releases. No media briefings. Communication out of city hall has ceased.
But, we have sweeps! Yes folks, the weekly ritual of taking City Hall "on the road."The trouble is, it's window dressing, lipstick on a pig. The weekly photo-ops have now begun to include higher ranking officials. It seems that everyone wants to get in on it!
But the question continues to be: get in on what? What is actually being accomplished? None of the afore mentioned questions have been answered. It makes one wonder if anything will actually happen.
Syracuse vs. Utica
I am fortunate to have found a job in Syracuse. Going to work everyday, I get to experience the day to day excitement of the initiatives that abound in downtown Syracuse. Mayor Stephanie Miner is a smart, articulate and deeply involved leader in a city that desperately needed one when she took office. The relationship that she immediately forged with SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has resulted in an exciting and game changing project-The Connective Corridor.
With funding from Senator Chuck Schumer, Empire State Development Corporation and The NYS Dormitory Authority, the connection between University Hill and downtown Syracuse is a signature strip of cutting edge, cultural development. It will encompass the University community, city museums, theaters and galleries and shopping destinations such as Armory Square.
Lighted pedestrian pathways, outdoor seating, signage and landscaping will soon be complete and provide the Corridor with a distinct look. Bicyclists will soon find designated bike lanes in a bright kelly green along some parts of the corridor.
How did Syracuse become fortunate enough to obtain the funding for this project? The answer is simple-they asked for it. It was as easy as that. In response to their request, they received 10 million dollars from the federal TIGER discretionary grant.
What did Utica receive? Nothing. Not a dime. And, if you are wondering why, the answer is simple-we didn't ask for any.
The Palmieri administration let millions of dollars slip through their fingers. And, apparently there are no plans to request any money any time soon, despite the fact that Utica has one of it's own, Angelo Roefaro, in a top position in Senator Schumer's Syracuse office.
Palmieri has said that, "We've done everything in our power to put the brakes on spending. I can't stop a train that's been on the tracks over the last six or seven years." Unfortunately, that must also mean that we are also not able to ask for money in order to stop the bleeding. Former Mayor Roefaro said he would have pursued the TIGER funding if he was still in office. That could have been applied to the yearly 2 million dollar street paving mandate that Utica must adhere to. And, I believe if he was, we would have gotten that grant.
But the Palmieri team keeps going on sweeps. Municipalities across the state are tapping into sources of funding to help turn their communities around while our leaders pick up gum wrappers and cigarette butts.
Way to go Mayor!