Utica parks, police to receive a boost thanks to additional $27 million in federal funds

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The City of Utica is preparing to spend an additional $27 million in federal funds, with most of the money going to police, fire and parks.

All of the funds in the latest round of the Utica Prosperity Initiative come from the American Rescue Plan Act. The initiative, which represents more than $60 million in local, state and federal funding.

The city already announced funding for child care expansion, residential rehabilitation and investment in community assets like the Utica Zoo and Uptown Theatre, among others.

The Utica Prosperity Initiative is providing our community a unique opportunity to enhance the quality of life for our residents,” Mayor Robert Palmieri said in a statement. “Through strategic investment, we are promoting Utica’s existing assets; with a mission to make our community an attraction and a destination.”

Money for public safety

A part of the third phase of the prosperity initiative will be to hire five additional police officers. The Common Council recently approved the increase to the police complement, proposed by the administration in January.

The City of Utica intends to use $1.5 million in federal funds for an additional five police officer positions, as well as $1 million for body-worn cameras and Tasers.
The City of Utica intends to use $1.5 million in federal funds for an additional five police officer positions, as well as $1 million for body-worn cameras and Tasers.

The additional officers are intended to combat gun violence in the city, with $1.5 million earmarked toward the effort. Another $1 million is included for body-worn cameras and Tasers.

The Utica Fire Department will also receive funds for equipment in the third phase. It includes $1 million for a new fire truck and $550,000 for two fire truck refurbishment, as well as $275,000 for an exhaust system.

Money for parks

The bulk of this round of funding will go toward parks, with $11.6 million set aside to improve the city’s infrastructure.

Of that, the largest chunk, $7.8 million, will go toward improvements at Roscoe Conkling Park, which contains many of the city’s attractions: the Parkway Recreation Center, Val Bialas Ski Center and Valley View Golf Course.

Another $2 million is earmarked for the Bertolini Clubhouse at Valley View Golf Course. The third phase includes $1.4 million for American with Disabilities Act compliance at city parks.

The final $400,000 is set to fund remediation at Chancellor Park.

Other funds

Each of the city’s six council districts will receive $200,000 in discretionary spending. The Common Council will determine how the funds will be allocated, but all projects must meet federal guidelines attached to the money.

Story: Here is what's in the $12 million first phase of the Utica Prosperity Initiative

Story: What's in the second phase of the Utica Prosperity Initiative? See where $20M assigned

The $27 million third phase sets aside $2 million for paving and $1.2 million for four new snowplows.

There will be $1 million for improved streetscapes in the Varick Street neighborhood and $1.5 million for brownfield remediation around the city. Funds also will be earmarked for the Westside Senior Center, Johnson Park Center and Renaissance Center, as well as Anita's Stevens-Swan for pet population control and to cover COVID-19 related expenses.

Steve Howe is the city reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at showe@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Utica outlines $27 million in projects with federal funds