New life breathed into former Kemble Elementary School in Utica


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A transformation is underway in Utica's Cornhill section and children and families will be the ones to benefit from it, officials say.

According to Oneida County Officials, there will once again be children at the former Kemble Elementary School on Kemble Street near James Street in the CIty of Utica.

This time, however, the children will be there to play basketball, tend a community garden, enjoy a butterfly garden path and play on a natural playground.

The Oneida County Health Department has obtained a $197,000 grant to get the project rolling with soil sampling and testing, which is expected to be complete in the Spring.

Utica School Superintendent Bruce Karam said he is thrilled that so much time, effort and money are being invested into giving inner city kids a place to play.

"This is a very important venture," Karam said. "We're always focusing on operational things, school district things, education, all of that, but it's important for them to have this release and have an area where they can go out and play."

Cornhill Neighborhood Association members say they believe the plan will be a success because people in the neighborhood were brought on board at the planning stage and asked what they'd like to see in the former Kemble School space.

The Oneida County Health Department will re-apply for another $197,000 grant in 2014 to further the project.

Artist renderings show a mixed-use athletic field, butterfly garden walk, natural playground area, community garden and pavilion.

It's expected to take roughly five years to complete the project.

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