UTICA — A reader recently wrote into the Observer-Dispatch asking whether the city of Utica would improve the Welcome to Utica memorial on the corner of Genesee and Lafayette streets.
“It has definitely seen better days,” the reader wrote. “Perhaps with all of the talk of revitalization, this mural could get some attention.”
The mural was completed in 1999 under the direction of then-mayor Edward A. Hanna. The paint caused a condition known as spalling, whereby moisture entered the space between the brick and paint, adding to the erosion process.
The mural is being considered for repairs — though nothing is set in stone.
The decrepit Welcome to Utica brick wall mural on the corner of Genesee and Lafayette streets.
The city of Utica has no concrete plans to change the mural just yet.
Talks between the city and Rust2Green Utica, a University of Cornell-community partnership that revitalizes areas in Utica, have focused on the mural.
“(We) are collectively considering our options,” Department of Urban & Economic Development Commissioner Brian Thomas wrote in an email. “As such, no decision has been made as to how to most appropriately improve this important piece of public art.”
Thomas hopes to have a concrete decision in the “next couple of months.”
A conversation with Rust2Green Utica Founder Paula Horrigan shows her group hopes to paint a new mural entirely.
“It’s an opportunity to redevelop that mural site,” Horrigan said about current design plans. “It would be a new mural, repainting and reusing that particular mural.”
The planned aesthetic comes from the “One World Utica” theme, Horrigan said, “which is really about celebrating the distinctiveness and multi-cultural diversity of Utica and its history and tradition and legacy of being an immigrant and now refugee city.”
Horrigan said they want to focus on the entirety of Liberty Bell park, stating she views updating the mural and the park as related.
Horrigan added they hope to start work this summer or fall. Currently, however, the project is “not at the implementation stage,” Horrigan said.
Reporter Joseph Labernik investigates neighborhood complaints each week and reports the findings. If something is broken or neglected in your neighborhood, tip off Public Eye by sending an email with a thorough description of the firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters also can be sent to Public Eye, Observer-Dispatch, 221 Oriskany Plaza, Utica, NY 13501.