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Mayor Makes Final Roundabout Pitch

Utica, NY (WIBX) – In what was likely the final public meeting about the Oneida Square roundabout the full gamut of concerns were addressed: public safety, traffic flows, cost, business impacts, parking and pedestrians was a

Voices were raised several times in the basement of the Pylmouth Bethesda Church on Plant Street as as more than 40 city officials, council members, residents and business owners all had a chance to ask questions about the more than $2-million dollar project to re-shape the second busiest intersection in Utica.

But, by the time the meeting was over, nearly 3 hours after it began, most seemed to be satifisied that a roundabout is the right way to go.

City resident Tom Schmidt lives in the neighborhood and says he doesn’t like to walk through the busy intersection because cars come in every direction. Schmidt believes the roundabout allows the city to get the most bang for its buck and allows pedestrians to safely walk through.

“You will, if it passes, and I hope the council [does pass it],” Schmidt said.

Business owners, who were surprised that no one from the city’s administration or Department of Transportation bothered to ask their opinions, had a chance to have their concerns addressed as well.

Roger Palek, owner of Puff N’ Stuff, says he is for anthing to make the city looker better and safer, but had concerns about parking availability in front of his store, especially if a UPS truck is parking out front making a delivery.

“If it’s going to be what the mayor says it’s going to be, then, yeah I’m satifisied,” Palek said.

The mayor’s explaination was that parking spots would still exist as they do today. While there would be just one lane of traiffic in each direction, there would also be a middle lane allowing vehicles to go around a delivery truck if it were parked in the traffic lane.

Joann Gerace, the owner of Tiny’s on State Street, said her concerns involved area businesses and overall safety.

“Information wise it was termendous. A lot of the answers I got were positive in that respect,” she said.

But, regarding public safety, the city’s former Deputy Public Safety Commissioner believes the response time from fire trucks at the Park Avenue fire station could increase.

Robert Palmeiri said instead of going directly from Park Ave. to Oneida Street, trucks would have to go around the roundabout.

“I’m looking for a way to keep the same response time, not adding to the response time, if it’s possible.”

The DOT presentation included a video of residents from Glens Falls, New York showing a stark contrast in public opinion before and after their roundabout was built. DOT officials, and Mayor David Roefaro, believe skepticism in Utica will turn to overwhelming support, as depicted in the video below.

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