Utica's mayor unveiled a new plan Tuesday, which he says will be the rebirth of the downtown district. Our Andrew Sorensen explains how the city's new parking plan could turn downtown Utica into a bustling and popular scene once again.
UTICA, N.Y.-- Trying to find parking in downtown Utica is just about impossible, making it also impossible to reinvigorate the district.
"When developers look at those buildings, or prospective tenants look at those buildings, the first question they ask is, 'Where are my employees going to park? Where are my customers or my clients going to park?'" said Urban and Economic Development Acting Commissioner Brian Thomas.
Mayor Robert Palmieri unveiled a massive overhaul of Genesee Street Tuesday he says will change all that by adding hundreds of new spots through five surface lots and a yet to be determined site for a parking deck. The plan includes upgrading Genesee Street to four lanes from Oneida Square to Oriskany Boulevard with large pedestrian areas and medians. Palmieri also says they will turn the free 90 minute parking to paid parking, but the added cost should be worth it when they're done.
"The worst thing to is to come to the downtown area and become frustrated because there is no parking whatsoever. The cost that we're talking is a very modest, of the convenience and the signage," Palmieri said.
The city hopes the plan will update and rejuvenate the city in many ways, including jumping into the 21st century by allowing you to pay for your parking with your smart phone. They hope to employ an app which allows you to register your car, pay and then add more money to the meter if you run low on time.
Beyond appealing to the millennial generation, Palmieri believes the infrastructure and business bonuses will make downtown an attractive and popular place to be.
"I think this is a golden opportunity for the young to invest into the downtown area and more importantly the City of Utica, because you know what? We're up and running, we're open for business," he said.
The mayor is submitting his plan for two different grants. If they are able to secure the funding, he says the city should be able to start construction as soon as next spring.
City officials say construction on the new downtown initiative should avoid major inconveniences and will likely not coincide with construction on the Arterial project.