ONEIDA — Members of Oneida’s City Center Committee (OC3) presented an idea for community and business growth to the Common Council Tuesday evening.
They proposed an expanded weekly farmers market along Farrier Avenue between Higinbotham Park and the proposed City Center in Clinch Park. The market would take place between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays between the months of May and October.
“We want more than a polka band playing for three people in lawn chairs,” Dr. John Costello said. “We’d like to make it a smaller version of Armory Square in Syracuse. We would like to give visitors the entire experience of the city.”
OC3 members admitted it could take up to two years to fully realize their vision. They also asked for the city’s cooperation toward the project.
“We can’t do anything without your approval,” Costello said.
These markets, the committee said, would attract the Millennial-aged workers specializing in technology-centered jobs at Marcy Nanocenter to the city.
“Utica is doing things to attract this group east of the center, and Oneida is the only one working to attract them west of the center,” Costello said.
Costello suggested buildings in Oneida’s historic district could be converted into apartments.
“These younger workers are looking for apartments, not homes. We could let them know that the city is more than just a place to visit,” he said.
Costello said he and others had contacted 35 vendors based in Oneida about the idea. “We want to find ways to attract people to Oneida’s downtown.”
Those vendors include microbreweries and other alcohol vendors. “We won’t let young people into areas of Higinbotham Park where alcohol is being served. We want to attract a wholesome crowd,” Costello said.
Fifth Ward Councilman Jim Chamberlain asked about parking. The Oneida Post Office, he said, is located on Farrier Avenue and is open until 5:30 p.m. Costello said parking would be available at the Oneida Dispatch building, which he had recently purchased.
“I don’t think it will be a problem. I know the owner,” he said.