Oneida City Center trail construction halted until spring, officials say

Published Dec 5, 2017 at 4:00pm

ONEIDA — Construction on the City Center section of the Oneida Rail Trail has been delayed until spring because the end of construction season has coincided with a delay in the review process for construction bids.

“We have received bids on the project, and we are reviewing them,” Madison County Planning Department Director Scott Ingmire said. “There was some discrepancy between money made available to the project through state funding and the terms of the bids, and we’re also reviewing that. We will begin construction in the spring.”

The City Center is a pedestrian rest area along the trail located in Clinch Park, the small park between Oneida and Railroad Streets perpendicular to city hall. It will be part of the Oneida Rail Trail, a multi-use trail placed on three railroad beds that organizers say will promote exercise and tourism in the city. The trail when completed will run for 11.3 miles around the City of Oneida and extend towards the Village of Wampsville and the City of Sherrill.

The center is also expected to combine with a renovated historical district and the reduction of abandoned and nuisance properties to improve the city’s business climate. Oneida city officials believe these improvements will attract tourists and also businesses to the area. The city has welcomed five new businesses in 2017, and five more are considering locating in the city.

“This delay won’t impact the progress we’ve been making to improve Oneida,” Mayor Leo N. Matzke said.

Reduced parking concerns

The City Center’s design has been modified to address concerns by local business owners that a reduction in parking caused by its construction would effect their customer base.

Members of the county planning department had researched the city’s parking needs and concluded the reduction would not impact current business needs. The study found that on an average day 149 out of the 207 spots in the downtown business district are empty. The original design would have reduced the parking spaces in the city’s downtown from 207 to 155.

Several building and business owners disagreed with the findings. They asked the Common Council in May why an improved downtown, which would attract more people, would have less parking spaces. Matzke said the issue has been resolved.

“The Rail Trail planners have modified the design, and the city has spoken with local business owners, and it’s not an issue anymore,” he said.