Forces/Drivers: Growing Arts District
Dear Diary, October 5, 2015
I am so frustrated with the path that the city of Utica has surrendered to. A few years back, the economy and the city was booming and the arts were truly flourishing, and now it is the complete opposite. The city has been overcome by its weaknesses and threats, and there is a continuous loss of jobs and economic downturn.
My biggest disappointment in the Utica is the loss of, what use to be, its “growing arts district”. We have lost many of the city’s venues that promoted music and arts due to lack of revenue floating around. The Munson William’s Proctor Institute for the arts has closed down, which means no more art classes for kids and adults, no more music concerts, and no more historic art museum. The F.X. Matt Brewery has stopped their weekly “Saranac Thursdays” because people could not afford to come out and listen to music. This was another huge loss for the city because “Saranac Thursdays” used to be a way to get older and younger people out of the house to listen to local and professional musicians perform while socializing. Perhaps the biggest loss for the arts is the “Music and Arts” Festival which highlighted all local musicians and artists. This was a 4 day event that took place all around the city, promoting the arts.
As a music teacher in the area, it is terribly sad to see that students have no way of expressing themselves, or showing off their talents outside of school. I have noticed that the quality of my band program has diminished over the years because students are not able to purchase, repair, or take private lessons on their instruments to enhance their talents. More and more I am seeing that my students know that music is not as important to society because what are they going to do with music after school?
It worries me that with businesses closing, younger people moving out of the city, and the city possibly on the verge of bankruptcy that crime will soar. We have already lost the arts in the area, how much more can we bear to lose?
See you tomorrow.
Forces/Drivers: Hospital Merger, Brain Drain
Letter to the Editor
When it was announced that talks had begun for a possible merger between St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC) and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare (FSLHC), many people had their reservations. As a Registered Nurse at FSLHC, I myself was skeptical.
After years of talking, planning and implementation of the merger, the decision to close the St. Elizabeth’s campus still comes to a shock to most area residents. SEMC has been a landmark on Genesee St for decades and has served hundreds of thousands of people.
The reasons for closing the campus are stated as both financial and quality; financially it is just more cost effective to offer all services in one location, and the institution claims that this will provide a better quality of care to area residents.
But what about the quality of life of all the employees that will now be with out a job? FSLHC may take on some of the employees as transfers, but many will have to go out of the area to find work. The same pattern of jobs leaving and residents leaving continues. It is with great sadness that this area is losing so many jobs, many good, hard working people and a landmark in the community.
I am currently waiting to hear about the status of my own position. Though if I make it through this round of lay-offs, there is no guarantee of job security for the next few years. If I do lose my job, my family and I may be forced to leave the area. I have already begun looking for positions in Albany and Syracuse. Even if we do manage to stay, I fear for the quality of healthcare that will be available in the community. With only one hospital, residents of the area will have no options for healthcare. So many people already seek treatment outside the area for major issues and I fear that trend will only continue to grow.
This hospital merger has brought the loss of hundreds of jobs, the closing of an iconic healthcare campus and the potential for a dramatic decrease in the quality of health services offered to our community. We are already a depressed area can we handle another blow to the economy such as this? I leaves me wondering, what is next for Utica?