Thursday, February 17, 2011

Utica's Master Plan...

Last Wednesday evening, February 9, 2011, Concerned Citizens videotaped the Utica Common Council's Economic Development Committee at which the "recommendations" of the "Infrastructure and Waterfront Development" subcommittee (which Frank Montecalvo chaired) of the Utica Master Plan steering committee were presented.

We asked Mr. Montecalvo if he would mind giving us an overview of the presentation to go along with our videotape. Mr. Montecalvo's comments are as follows:

When viewing this presentation, note where it is pointed out that in several places the language of the draft of the Master Plan has been changed from that originally proposed by the subcommittee. Unless one was paying close attention, the changes would be easy to miss. The changes, however, are significant.

For example:

"Acknowledge and follow the 1968 Comprehensive Water Supply Study as the official regional planning policy for meeting water supply needs."

became---

"Formally request that the MVWA update the 1968 Comprehensive Water Supply Study so as to provide a new regional planning policy for meeting water supply needs."

While updating the Study might be a good idea (the locations of water resources and municipalities have not changed) , having the MVWA do this is putting the "fox in charge of the hen house" and was never recommended by the subcommittee. MVWA is only one of a multitude of water purveyors in the Oneida, Herkimer and part of Madison Counties covered by the state-sponsored Study. It would be illegal to give MVWA the power to reallocate the state's water resources in this region because the power of allocation belongs to the state. It also would not be fair to other parts of the region. It should be noted that the 1968 Study was done at a time when Oneida County was one of the fastest growing places in the nation and there was a real fear that the Greater Utica area (primarily Utica's suburbs because they were growing the fastest) would run out of water. Recent MVWA proposals to extend service to Verona and other places in central and western Oneida County run counter to that Study's recommendations and could conceivably lead to a water shortage if prior growth rates were to resume.

Several of the Master Plan's changes which are objectionable involve the Water Authority, Sewer District, and new "regionalization" efforts which, essentially, preserve and extend the policies that have encouraged "urban sprawl" -- which raises taxes in Utica and suburbs alike -- as well as preserve a "power structure" that is insulated from voter control.

A number of the subcommittee's recommendations were left out, while things that we had not discussed were inserted. It was enough to make one think "Who's Master Plan is this?"

Frank Montecalvo


Below is the video of the meeting:

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