After years of decontamination efforts and laying unused, Utica could be weeks away from seeing the Bossert site turned into a retail area. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us what new life is expected to be brought to the abandoned property.
UTICA, N.Y. -- It may be hard to believe looking at it now, but the Bossert site used to be the pride of West Utica.
"When the city was vibrant, there's a lot of jobs that were there was a lot of families and traditions," Mayor Robert Palmieri said.
And it could be again soon. Utica's planning board approved United Auto Supply's proposal Wednesday that would include building a Nice 'n' Easy and over 30,000 square feet of retail space at the site.
"Technically it would be an improvement because of, just high grass, an unkempt area of the city," West Utica Common Council member David Testa said of the proposal.
Many in the area hope the project will help improve other parts of West Utica, too.
"I mean, it's going to open up jobs for more people to get jobs going, it's going to open up a lot of stuff, hopefully it will clean up the area," West Utican Braytin Ellsworth.
"Today's a great day to realize it's going to be revitalized and the bad memories of the last ten years will be the future of the City of Utica, New York," said Palmieri.
As you walk through the Bossert site you can still see some remnants of what it used to be. The foundations are still there, just peeking through the grass. But officials say they've been working very hard to make sure the most harmful remnants never return.
The engineering firm on the Bossert project is working extensively with the DEC because of the land's toxic past on the hazardous waste registry.
"The site has a clean slate right now, but should we encounter anything different during construction, there will be a plan in place to remediate it," explained CHA Consulting Civil Engineer Brian Bouchard
With few other concerns, Mayor Robert Palmieri views the deal as a model for future progress.
"We took a tour of the city and he's looking at other sites for maybe development and hopefully we'll have him investing in some other parts of the city," he said.
But to the West Uticans we talked to, it's a relief. Not only because it gets rid of an eyesore and creates jobs, but the Nice 'n' Easy will be the first, although limited, grocery option returning to the troubled neighborhood.
Utica's Common Council is expected to approve the proposal at their meeting in September, but there could be a special meeting before then to get construction started sooner.