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Candidates Speak to South Utica Residents

Not mentioned in Ms Roth's story below, but another questions was asked of five candidates tonight...

Five votes not to bulldoze downtown for the Destructive Hospital Concept... Wow, such great wisdom! Many others agree, see Voices Saying "No!"

September 9, 2019 - Local politicians speak to South Utica residents, by Amy Neff Roth...

UTICA — Residents of South Utica questioned local political candidates about climate change, term limits, consolidation and the proposed Sunset Avenue apartment project at a neighborhood association meeting Monday evening.

Third Ward Common Council candidates Celeste Friend, Richard Tomaino, Jr. and Bob DeSanctis, the incumbent, and Oneida County Board of Legislators District 19 candidates Tim Julian, former Mayor of Utica, and Steve Roefaro, a former legislator, attended the meeting at Notre Dame Elementary School.

The meeting was attended by more than 50 residents, many neighbors who oppose the Kelberman Center’s plans to build a 60-unit apartment building for people on the autism spectrum, their employees and moderate income tenants at the former Sunset School in their neighborhood.

Jamie Weber asked the candidates how they would have handled the situation differently, referring to the fact that the project was approved by the City of Utica Planning Board without neighbors realizing it was in the works. She also asked if they would help neighbors once elected if it weren’t already too late. All five candidates expressed sympathy with the situation and dismay that the project went so far without the neighbors being notified. If a project of interest to a neighborhood comes up if she’s elected, Friend said, “I’m going to be out knocking on your door. … I’m going to solicit very heavily your opinion.”

DeSanctis apologized for not doing more and said he’s backing an ordinance to require neighbor notification in the future. “I really wish when they were proposing this, I had knocked on all your doors,” he said.

Tomaino said the Kelberman Center should go back to the drawing board, giving up grant money and using the money it has to build a smaller project.

Although the county does not have any say in the project, Julian and Roefaro both disparaged it.

Julian warned Dr. Michael Kelberman to consider his legacy. “He should think twice about what his name means in the city of Utica,” he said.

“It’s too big. … It’s not fair; it’s being shoved down your throats,” Roefaro said.

All five candidates expressed interest in climate change mitigation; interest in, but strong awareness of the pitfalls and problems of governmental consolidation; and support for term limits.

You can help, please join us on Facebook #NoHospitalDowntown. Also consider adding your voice to Hundreds of People Saying, "No Hospital Downtown". Get to know BUD, that's the future of the Columbia Lafayette Neighborhood!

No Studies, No Reports, thus we remain #NoHospitalDowntown