Utica mayor lists projects in $12M phase of initiative

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UTICA — Mayor Robert Palmieri presented Phase I of the city’s allocation of funding through the Utica Prosperity Initiative to the city’s Board of Estimate & Apportionment on Monday.

The funding totals $12 million in community investment, Palmieri’s announcement said, adding the city solicited public input to determine the community’s top priorities, projects and programs. Dozens of projects are still being reviewed as there will be announcements of additional phases of funding in the coming weeks and months.

The majority of Phase I projects and initiatives will be funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Phase I projects include (but are not limited to) the following:

Additional street paving & sewer infrastructure improvements;

Enhancements of city parks;

Small Business Assistance
Programs;

Child-care expansion;

Residential Rehabilitation Program;

Gun violence prevention and law enforcement career recruiting efforts

New James Street Marketplace with Loft Apartments

Upgrade of city’s website & electronic services

Necessary repairs to public facilities (including police and fire stations)

A specific breakdown of each amount to be allocated to the individual programs was not released with Palmieri’s announcement; however, the city said more information about each project will be announced as implementation of the plan begins.

“The Utica Prosperity Initiative is a unique opportunity to transform our community and enhance the quality of life for our residents,” Palmieri said. “This announcement is the first phase of the city’s investment. We will continue to review and evaluate projects as more exciting announcements will be forthcoming.”

Phase I enhancements of city parks will include the installation of a splash pad for youth, as well as a dog park at T.R. Proctor Park. In addition, Phase I includes improvements to Chancellor Park. These efforts are in coordination with the city’s Park Master Plan, Palmieri said.

Criteria and qualifications are being developed for the Small Business Assistance and Residential Rehabilitation programs. The city will coordinate the Residential Rehabilitation program in partnership with the HomeOwnershipCenter.

The city’s investment in child-care will expand upon Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI), in which the community overwhelming supported child-care as its top poverty reduction initiative. Phase I funding will allow the ESPRI program to provide child care until 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

To combat the recent trends of increased gun violence throughout the state and country, the city’s police department will work with the community and allocate resources towards efforts to reduce gun violence. This funding will also help the city implement several items outlined in its comprehensive police reform action plan such as supporting recruitment for careers in law enforcement.

The city is working with several business and community partners to construct a new facility at the former Cornhill Senior Center on James Street. The former Senior Center was recently demolished with the utilization of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to enable development of the site. This partnership will include a grocery market, business incubators, as well as loft style housing.

While the city has the necessary infrastructure in place for all residents to have broadband, there are accessibility gaps due to affordability and lack of individual resources. The new James Street Marketplace, as well as other forthcoming projects, will serve as a community-based center for low to moderate income families to access broadband.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., touted the plan and the funding that made the projects possible.

“As majority leader, I made funding state and local governments my top priority in the American Rescue Plan and fought so hard to ensure that places like Utica would get the resources needed to both defeat COVID and revive our local economies,” Schumer said. “This plan – which invests in children and families, small businesses, housing and other critical infrastructure — is a first step towards a more prosperous Utica.”

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