Utica councilwoman introduces legislation to bring more transparency


UTICA, NY (WUTR-TV) — Since March, Utica Common Council meetings have been conducted via video conference. During Wednesday’s council meeting, Third Ward City Councilwoman Celeste Friend introduced a ordinance ‘To enact a neighborhood notification and meeting clause to city code projects‘. Friend says this would create greater transparency between city officials and residents. On Wednesday, the council voted unanimously 8-0 to put this into committee. If later passed, this would be effective city wide, not just in the Third District.

“We are making sure when there are big projects taking place in the neighborhood, that the neighbors get to participate in that decision,” says Friend. “Anything that is at least, $2M or 20-thousand square feet…and there will be a certain way where you define who the neighbors are… they all get a letter that would say there’s a neighborhood meeting, come and hear about it,” says Friend.

This legislation reflects the concerns some South Utica residents have on the Kelberman Center’s project. The Link at the Sunset is a project that will bring 60 housing units to Sunset Ave. The project was originally approved by Utica’s Planning Board in May 2018, before Friend was representing the Third Ward. South Utica neighbors surrounding the footprint expressed and voiced their concerns to local officials about the lack of transparency and possible danger from debris. Neighbors say they support the overall mission of the project, but want a compromise to build it smaller.

The next Utica Common Council meeting is June 17th.

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