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GUEST COLUMN: Challenges represent opportunities for growth

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri
Posted 12/21/22

During the next few weeks, the Daily Sentinel, in partnership with the Genesis Group, will publish articles written by area elected officials and business and community leaders. 

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GUEST COLUMN: Challenges represent opportunities for growth


During the next few weeks, the Daily Sentinel, in partnership with the Genesis Group, will publish articles written by area elected officials and business and community leaders. In addition to the Sentinel’s Editorial Page, the articles will appear in the Genesis Group’s weekly newsletters and social media pages. This is the fifth column in the series:

In the city of Utica, 2022 was a year to recover and rebuild after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind us. 

We were faced to both handle the challenges the pandemic left and continue the exciting growth that has taken place over the last decade. 

To fuel the future, my administration developed the Utica Prosperity Initiative – a way to use federal recovery funds and other sources to build a more sustainable, more exciting future.

Downtown has continued to thrive with the addition of the Nexus Center and anticipation of the Wynn Hospital. We continue to see new businesses pop up, old buildings restored and more activity throughout the corridor.

The city has rebuilt Hanna Park, is rebuilding Chancellor Park and restored the fountain and the wall at Liberty Bell Park. As the state finished the Route 5S project, the city added parking and continues to see businesses grow around Harbor Point.

The future of the Harbor is exciting, and it will build upon unprecedented investment all along Genesee Street.  

The rebirth of Utica starts in its neighborhoods and with the homes of our residents. We know that homeowners had to put off costly maintenance and smaller construction companies had difficulty finding work with pandemic-related restrictions in place. so, we committed nearly $4 million to help residents who needed to fix porches, roofs, water lines, replace windows or siding. 

We also realize the need for healthy spaces for all of our residents to enjoy our city. Utica has the state’s third-largest park system, and it is the crown jewel of our city.

Still, the pandemic showed us that we can still improve on our great parks to make the activities more diverse and engage more residents.

There have been several investments in new ways to exercise and socialize – two critical needs the pandemic exposed. Utica is now home to two new dog parks, a new inclusive playground area, grills in Kemble Park and is finalizing plans for a splashpad, a waterslide, two skateparks, a zipline, disc golf and pickleball courts.

Also, all of our parks are being converted to be more accessible so that people of all abilities can use them.

Only a safe city can prosper, and Utica saw the same spike in gun violence during the pandemic as many communities across America.

We invested in new cameras, more police, better equipment and engaged our community. We hired a social worker to assist police, and established a Civilian Public Safety Board to help with communication and oversight.  Police and fire have partnered to create a  Junior Public Safety Academy to encourage children to be part of the solution.

As a result of this hard work, Utica has seen gun violence go down, while many communities have seen it continue to rise. There’s still a long way to go, but Utica is on the right track. As the pandemic exposed the need for housing, my administration is committed to having a city where every resident has affordable, quality housing.

We have partnered to help fund more than 350 new units of housing to come to market including the rehabilitation of the Olbiston, a new innovative project in Artspace, housing for seniors at Johnson Park Center and
two monumental projects in “Impact Cornhill”.  

In its tradition, Utica continued to welcome those fleeing violence in search of a better life. With the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, Utica opened its doors to two new groups of refugees who will now be a part of our promising future. 

There’s more good news coming every day, and the best is still yet to come. It has been an incredibly challenging time, but also an incredibly rewarding one.

Utica will be better for the lessons it learned during adverse circumstances and the city is growing and thriving at a rate that seemed impossible for generations.


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