The Utica tower went dark for good, overnight Monday into Tuesday. The dream that area businessman Frank Giotto willed into reality, to the tune of seven years and $250,000, was erected in 2013 on the canal trail, in north Utica, alongside the NYS Thruway and Rt. 49.
"It was years ago that I thought that a sign as people pass through north Utica on the Thruway, could show the location of our beautiful city and would be beneficial to our area," said Giotto, at the time. "The idea turned into a reality."
But this week, the Utica Landmark Tower Commission Board announced the tower would go dark and be dismantled, after a man climbed the barbed-wire-enclosed tower twice this year, raising concerns about future liability. Board member, Mark Cushman, says the NYS Canal Corporation, on whose land the sign sits, has made onerous demands on the board.
"Review of indemnification to the state, review of liability, reveiw of the insurance limits and one of the things that really bafles me is a review of the structural intebrity of the tower of they gave us the permit with initially," said Cushman.
But a spokesperson for the Canal Corporation says they made no such demands.
"Under the terms of its permit with the Canal Corporation , the Utica Landmark Tower Corporation agreed to inspect the 12-story tower every five years. This inspection is overdue. The Canal Corporation is willing to discuss different ways to carry out the inspection so long as public safety is not compromised. Contrary to comments made by the ULTC, at no point has the Canal Corporation required the ULTC to carry additional insurance or grant additional indemnification beyond what is specified in the original 2011 permit. In addition, claims that the state has requested additional studies regarding the soil cover at the site are not true," said a statement from the Canal Corporation.
Both sides say they want to see the tower remain standing. For now, the tower board is looking for contractors to dismantle it. They say they've received an overwhelming amount of calls and emails, in support of the sign remaining.
"Our studies showed that there were over 300,000 passer bys that took notice of our Utica tower and went to our website over the past five years," said Cushman.