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Councilors discuss pizza, parking and police

Thomas Caputo
Staff writer
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Posted 8/6/22

From pizza, to police, to parking and properties, the Utica Common Council had a full list of legislation to vote on during Wednesday’s meeting. Proclamation to honor O’Scugnizzo Pizzeria …

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Councilors discuss pizza, parking and police

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UTICA — From pizza, to police, to parking and properties, the Utica Common Council had a full list of legislation to vote on during Wednesday’s meeting.

Proclamation to honor O’Scugnizzo Pizzeria

The councilors unanimously voted for a proclamation to honor O’Scugnizzo Pizzeria, 614 Bleecker St., for 108 years of service in the city.

O’Scugnizzo Pizzeria opened in 1914 and is the second oldest pizzeria in the country. The pizzeria began by selling tomato pies for a nickel and has since grown into an iconic establishment.

“I just wanted to say thank you so much on behalf of me and my whole family,” said Jessica Burline, daughter of Steven Burline, owner and president of O’Scugnizzo Pizzeria. “Four generations in one business, 108 years in the same city and we couldn’t do it without this community, so thank you so much everybody and thank you for the recognition. We really appreciate it.”

Sale of properties

The councilors unanimously voted to allow the sale and development of the properties located at 1226 Whitesboro St., 101 Matthews Ave. and 1102 and 1104 Howard Ave.

Public hearing

Julia Fernandez, a new Utica resident, spoke to the council requesting if the city’s blue bags used for garbage collection could be composed of biodegradable plastic and if there could be an additional smaller size to accommodate households of one to two people.

Utica resident Ron Vincent spoke in support of waiving the residency requirement for police officers transferring in to the Utica Police Department. Vincent, who said he was a former supporter of the residency requirement, now believes the need for more police officers is greater than the desire to hire residents who are familiar with the area.

“We do need policemen and what difference does it make if they come in from another area,” Vincent said. “I think this residency law should all be changed and have a little bit more leniency to bring eligible people with knowledge of the program that they’re going to be instituting, not just where things are in the city of Utica.”

“The only department, I think, should not ever, ever be tampered with, as far as the residency, is the nine seats in front of us,” Vincent said, gesturing to the council. “That’s your job, to represent the area you are in and you better be living in it.”

Residency requirement for police officers

During the pre-meeting, councilors spoke with Utica Police Chief Mark Williams in regards to the necessity of amending the current residency requirement for police officers who transfer in to work with the Utica Police Department.

“As most of us should know, there’s a national hiring crisis for police officers and it’s also affecting us locally,” Williams said. “What we’re finding is that we’ve exhausted our current police list, we’re now advertising and recruiting for a new police test. The numbers have been low. In the past part of the pandemic, we were getting as many as 300 to 600 candidates signed up for our police test. Now, with only two weeks to go, despite our robust efforts to recruit, we only had 37 people signed up for our test with two weeks to go. That’s not enough for the anticipated vacancies that we are gonna have.”

Williams also mentioned that potential transfers have expressed interest in joining the Utica Police Department, however, once they find out about the residency requirement, they are no longer interested.

“We can not rely just on the civil service test to fill our vacancies, we have to do what other police agencies are doing which is accepting lateral transfers,” he added.

The councilors unanimously voted to allow police officers who transfer in to the Utica Police Department to continue to reside outside of the city of Utica.

Off-street parking facilities

The councilors unanimously voted to amend the Utica City Code and designate the following lots and garages as off-street parking facilities:

  • Utica Place Garage, located on Burnet St.
  • Washington Street Garage, located on Washington St.
  • Union Street Parking Lot, located on Union St.
  • Car Park Parking Lot, located on 265 Genesee St.

The rates for parking at any of the lots or garages are as follows:

  • Short term rates: $2 per hour.
  • Maximum daily charge: $18.
  • Monthly rates: $50.
  • Downtown living rate: $25.
  • Group or reduced rates: to be determined by the Division of Off-Street Parking.

The amendment also establishes regulations and penalties for violations, including establishing a $50 fine for parking without a valid permit, increasing the fine to $100 should the fine not be paid within the first 72 hours and increasing the fine to $125 should the fine not be paid within the first 10 days.

Public hearing for sale of properties

The councilors unanimously voted to conduct a public hearing to take place on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. to allow the public an opportunity to speak on the potential sale and development of the properties located at 1710 Whitesboro St., 2160 Broad St., 1220 Neilson St., 1407 Taylor Ave., 816 Catherine St., 408 Blandina St.,

Irish Cultural Center Cornhole Tournament and Fundraiser

The councilors unanimously voted to allow the Irish Cultural Center to provide wine and beer for the Cornhole Tournament and Fundraiser event scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Street parking changes

The councilors unanimously voted to not allow parking on the north side of Welshbush Rd. from Culver Ave to South Park Dr. and that proper signage will be erected where necessary.

The councilors unanimously voted to rescind two hour parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the west side of State St., from Cottage Pl. to Williams St. and that proper signage will be erected where necessary.

The councilors unanimously voted to rescind no parking on the west side of State St. between Henry St. and Williams St. and that proper signage will be erected where necessary.

Residency requirement for assistant engineer

The councilors unanimously voted to waive the residency requirement for the city’s assistant engineer Austin Cornacchia. Officials say the city has conducted an extensive search over the last four years for the assistant engineer position but yielded only one qualified candidate, which was Cornaccia. The waiver is exclusive to Cornacchia and would not apply to future applicants.

Shared services agreement

The councilors unanimously voted to approve a shared services agreement between the city of Utica and the New York State Department of Transportation to allow the NYSDOT to provide maintenance and traffic protection for Oriskany St. and North Genesee St. while crews work on median planting beds. The agreement will be in effect from 2022 to 2026.

Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation

The councilors unanimously voted to grant temporary and permanent easements to Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, now known as National Grid, to replace an exposed section of a natural gas main alongside Nail Creek and to replace the exposed section with an underground section behind the creek.

Transfer of funds

The councilors unanimously voted to authorize and direct the City Comptroller to make budget transfers to reallocate ARPA funding, re-class salaries, reallocate electrical expenses, to adjust for unexpected increases due to sewer damage, to make interdepartmental transfers and to adjust for previous contract settlements and unexpected cost increases.

St. Anthony and St. Agnes Church St. Cosmas and Damian Feast

The councilors unanimously voted to allow the St. Anthony and St. Agnes Church to provide wine and beer for the St. Cosmas and Damian Feast event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

St. Rosalia Society St. Rosalia Feast

The councilors unanimously voted to allow the St. Rosalia Society to provide wine and beer for the St. Rosalia Feast event scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Speed limits

The councilors unanimously voted to amend the speed limit on State St from Mandeville St. to Plant St. to 20 miles per hour. and that proper signage will be erected where necessary.

Solid waste service charge

The councilors unanimously voted to approve the applications for adjustment to the solid waste service charge for the fiscal year 2022 through 2023.

Memorial for Jaedon Jarosz

The councilors unanimously voted to approve a memorial for Jaedon Jarosz, who passed away on Nov. 20, 2021 due to a fatal car crash. The memorial will be erected on the Parkway in dedication of Jarosz’s memory.

Next meeting

The next Utica Common Council meeting will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. with a pre-meeting at 6 p.m.

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