Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Traveler's Tale, Redux

Another traveler, another negative reaction to Utica. Although in this case, the writer is a former resident of the area:

I grew up in a small town outside of Utica. In the 50's it was incredibly vibrant, young, and prosperous as WWII and Korean Vets settled and raised their families. There were several GE plants (light military and household appliances), Bendix (military parts and washing machines), Bosherts (heating systems), and a lot of small manufacturer's. Everyone had 3 to 4 kids so the schools were growing. For the most part, all this is gone. Utica's once bustling downtown area is empty now. Large department stores are gone, replaced by Dollar General, Walmart, and chain drug stores in the strip malls on the outskirts. People my age left for college and didn't come back and the population aged.

Click through and read the rest of this post, as well as the followup.

Stories like this make me incredibly depressed. What other reaction can you have? No one likes to live in a place people describe with words like "dirty", "empty", "rundown", and "hardscrabble", but what makes it even worse is that things never seem to change for the better. Even projects that should improve how the city looks end up being disasters because of the pervasive "Eh. Good enough for Utica" attitude.

Case in point- the area around the Memorial Auditorium. How many millions of dollars have we spent building state-of-the-art public safety buildings down there? The new buildings themselves are beautiful, but their siting is a nightmare. Everything seems cramped and shoved together because of the lack of green space or open areas, a problem compounded by the fact that the rest of the neighborhood looks like Berlin after WW II.

Move more than a few feet beyond the new construction and you're confronted by empty, boarded up buildings surrounded by waist high weeds and shattered, pothole filled streets. Walk around the block and you'll find sidewalks in disrepair, unraked gravel parking corrals, wrecked police cars, rubble strewn empty lots, vacant industrial's a veritable picture-book of urban decay, despite the expenditure of piles of taxpayer money.

Who approved this embarrassment? Who amongst our local leadership can look at that and say "Great job boys, you should be proud"? Why does everything in Utica, every single public works project in recent memory, have to be so shoddy and ugly?