UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – On Monday, September 26th, the restoration of a key part of Utica’s downtown was added to the growing list of improvements happening in and around the city.

“It’s going to be vested for people walking, biking, using the great downtown area,” said Mayor Robert Palmieri, “And you’re going to see much more as we start unveiling our downtown.

“This is just the beginning of it, this is just the first phase, but I think it’s an important phase.”

The fountain at Liberty Bell Park has been inoperable for over a decade, but after the concrete was resurfaced, and the plumbing was restored, it’s now back up and running.

And the iconic “sun mural” behind it will also get a makeover, and there are talks of possibly adding an ice-skating rink to the west of the fountain, as well.

“The easiest thing that has been done in the past is: can’t fix it, let it go, and then people drive by here and say, ‘Why isn’t the fountain working?’” said Palmieri. “And we had to say, we don’t know.”

“Well, we found out, and did it cost some money? Absolutely it did, but I think the benefit at this point is a quality of life.”

This funding will also be used to restore the Mini Hanna Park next to Pizza Classic, as well as Franklin Square Alley.

At Mini Hanna Park, the city has redesigned the landscaping, resodded the grass, and removed the rusted sculptures that were once on display so that they can be refurbished to their original condition.

And Councilwoman Katie Aiello explained that she chose to use her district’s share of the ARPA funding specifically at Franklin Square Alley, after several meetings with constituents, whom she says, asked that this district’s share of the fund be used on a community-minded project that would enhance the family-friendly aspects.

“What we’ll be doing in the alleyway is an artistic but functional space that will be family-friendly, and just kind of a little escape of that downtown feel for families, and anybody coming to town,” said Councilwoman Katie Aiello of the 1st Ward of Utica.

The total cost of these projects is still unknown but is projected to cost most than $1 million, so be sure to stay up to date with Eyewitness News for updates on these projects.