Residents get first look, give input for Utica's master plan

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Mayor David Roefaro ran his mayoral campaign on having a "master plan" for the city. Now, three years into his term, the public is getting a chance to view an early draft of and give some input to the plan.

It is on display from Noon until 8 p.m. Thursday at the Utica Public Library on Genesee Street.

City of Utica Senior Planner Dana Crisino said that she has been doing a lot of work on the master plan, which has been three years in the making.

Utica residents have been hearing about the plan for quite some time, and wanted to see it. Crisino said that Thursday is now their chance.

"This is really open house today," Crisino said. "We're inviting the public to come down. The steering committee has been working for years on this and has been working very hard for the past year. This is really the committee coming out to the public, and saying 'these are our draft goals, our vision statement, come see what we've done.'"

Crisino said that Thursday marked the opportunity for residents to weigh in on if this plan is representative of how they want their city to progress. If not, Crisino said they were open to suggestions.

"We're open to feedback," she said. "We have feedback forms setup, our steering committee members will be here throughout the day to talk with people, as will staff from the city, and the consultants the city hired will be here. Really, this is the open house. Think of it as buying a piece of property and you want to find out everything about it, that's what this is for."

Crisino said that the elements that are on display throughout the library make up the contents of the plan, with written layouts as well as design drawings as to the future of the city, as envisioned by the plan developers.

"What you see here will make up the contents of the plan," Crisino said. "So, next time you hear from us, will be the release of the draft plan. But these are all the pieces that are a part of the draft plan."

A lot of people have been critical because they haven't seen a master plan since Roefaro took office, but Crisino said it's taken this much time to put it all together.

"It's been over 50 years since we've had a master plan in the city," Crisino said. "Typically, you do one of these plans every ten years. So, we started from scratch. We had to go back and get the data - the census data, trends, everything - and review it. So, that's why it's taken the time. We want it to be by the people for the people. And that's why we're coming out to the public today."

One drawing labeled "Boulevard Genesee Street" showed off ideas of islands and trees added along the middle of Downtown Utica's Genesee Street, along with pedestrian walkways and other aesthetic appeal.

Another, written chart was called "infrastructure and Water Development," outlining goals for each thing the city would like to do with a strategy on how to accomplish that written just underneath it.

Cards along the table displays read "join the Effort, let your voice be heard" encouraged residents viewing the plan to give their comments, complaints, and suggestions.

City Spokesperson Angelo Roefaro said Mayor David Roefaro could not be at the Open House for the Master Plan during the day, as he was out of town.

However, Angelo Roefaro called the master plan "all about the people, and that's why the mayor, the staff, and those working on the master plan want the people's input."

Angelo Roefaro said the mayor will return to town later in the evening and will attend the open house later Thursday night.

A website has also been setup for the master plan project at: www.uticamasterplan.org

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