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Officials see dredging of Utica Harbor as milestone of revitalization

Source: Dredging Today By DAN MINER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - In two years, you're going to start seeing restaurants, retail shops and possibly a hotel pop up at the Utica Harbor.

Dredging of the harbor started in September and was supposed to continue into the new year. However, the City of Utica and state officials got an early Christmas present on Thursday.

"They did it in record time, folks," said Carmella Mantello, Director of the Canal Corporation. "We had estimated approximately four months to dredge. They did it in less than two months."

"It didn't take a private contract," said Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito. "We put our own public employees to work and they demonstrated that they not only had the professionalism, they had the expertise to get this job done - not only in record time, but quality time."

The Utica Harbor, along North Genesee Street, has not been used in 30 years. Many of you probably recall past Utica mayors talking about the potential the harbor has.

"Over the next couple of years, we are going to see this site transferred to the City of Utica and what we hope is multi-use around this land," Mantello said. "We hope to see the land trail, a promenade, maybe a marina. Some multi-use development, commercial, public recreation and public access points here at the Utica Harbor."

83,000 cubic yards were dredged, and the lock was re-opened. Mayor Roefaro calls this point a milestone.

"This will revitalize Utica," Mayor Roefaro said. "This will make us the renaissance city that we know we can be, and this will put us back on the map. We will be the destination, not only in Oneida County, but upstate New York."

An energy production plant once stood at the site, so National Grid is playing a big role in the clean up process. It's cost was upwards of $100,000,000.

Reprinted from WKTV

Boats now will be able to set sail at the Utica Harbor without fear of bottoming out. And officials hope that means bustling commerce and recreation on the nearby North Utica lots. State Canal Corp. Director Carmella Mantello announced Thursday the dredging of the canal has been completed.

It was the first time in 30 years that accumulated silt has been removed and the latest step in the broader Harbor Point cleanup and redevelopment process.

Though Canal Corp. crews spent the last several months dredging the harbor and its neck, the state-mandated cleanup has been mostly undertaken by National Grid, which is spending an estimated $100 million to do so.

"We are now one step closer to turning into a reality the vision of a bustling harbor, with public and private amenities galore," said Mantello, who was joined by other local and state officials for a news conference Thursday at the harbor.

Harbor Point is the site of ambitious plans for city officials. Under state legislation passed in 2008, the 10-acre Inner Harbor portion of the 140-acre site will be transferred to a city-run development corporation once the cleanup is complete, a step that is likely still about a year-and-a-half away, Mantello said.

In the meantime, National Grid, state Department of Environmental Conservation and Canal Corp. employees will work to finish the cleanup.

Once it's done, the corporation formed by the city will seek out developers that adhere to their vision of a mix of commercial, residential and recreational uses at the site.

"Where there's water, there's commerce and there's economic development," city Mayor David Roefaro said. "Many people don't know how significant this project is."

The site was contaminated by a series of factories located along the Harbor Point peninsula. In the 1920s, the site was the location of the largest energy-producing complex in North America, according to National Grid.

The mayor pointed out projects that already are happening in the surrounding area, including a proposed Holiday Inn Express. Various developers also have purchased properties and plan to demolish old industrial structures to make way for potential developments in the surrounding area.

A Nicky Doodles restaurant will open at 51 N. Genesee St., and Roefaro said a developer plans to put a strip mall where Chenango Import Motors sat until it closed last year.

Thursday's news conference was also attended by state Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, and state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome.

Destito thanked Canal Corp. workers who did the dredging, saying it saved money not having to hire an outside firm for the work.

Excerpted from Dredging Today

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