Franklin Square Alley Reimagined

The alley will take on a theme of the Erie Canal, which is a big part of Utica’s history and its Downtown.

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Franklin Square Alley Reimagined

Utica Mayor Robert M. Palmieri and First Ward Councilperson Katie Aiello unveiled plans to beautify and activate the alley at Franklin Square. The project is part of the Utica Prosperity Initiative and is where Councilperson Aiello directed her district’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act money.

The ARPA allocation was originally $200,000, but the project in total has reached closer to $400,000. The mayor agreed to put extra resources into the project because it can be a critical space and distinctive feature in Utica’s Downtown.

The alley will take on a theme of the Erie Canal, which is a big part of Utica’s history and its Downtown. The project features the already-completed restoration of the walls that frame the alley. Also included in the project are:

  • Ribbon-style benches.
  • A winding, to-scale Erie Canal motif laid out in Ruby Lake Glass along the alley floor.
  • Decorative concrete markers depicting each major city along the canal.
  • LED string lighting (contingent on available funding).
  • Benches, bike racks, and decorative elements along Genesee Street (funded by State and Municipal Facilities grant).
  • The city will also look to procure murals from local artists after project competition.

The Erie Canal theme matches that of the theme for Steven Teller’s winning mural design at Liberty Bell Park. This project joins several efforts underway to make downtown more enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing:

  • Liberty Bell Park is undergoing a complete redesign
  • Last summer, the city repaired the fountain at Liberty Bell Park for the first time in decades.
  • Refurbished sculptures and landscape at Ellen Hanna Mini Park.
  • The wall adjacent to Pizza Classic has been restored.
  • The City will be constructing glowing “Utica” letters and a new facade at Utica Place Garage.
  • Hanna Park at City Hall is being completely rebuilt, along with Chancellor Park.

The Franklin Square Alley has been the location of some public art and programming in recent years, and this redesign will enhance residents’ ability to continue those traditions. Construction will start later in the summer and should be finished by the fall.

Mayor Robert M. Palmieri said: “The City of Utica wants to be fun, exciting, and unique. The enhancements of Franklin Square Alley along with all of the other projects going on in our downtown are nothing short of transformational. This is a once-in-a-generation upgrade for the City of Utica and I think residents are going to be proud when it all comes together in the coming weeks.”  

First Ward Councilperson Katie Aiello said: “The goal was to create a gathering space that would be as functional as it is artistic —all while highlighting our city’s unique history. This alleyway will be a vibrant space with fun and bright colors, inviting seating, and open spaces for people to gather in the years to come. Just as the Erie Canal nurtured human connections that helped define the heart and soul of every thriving community along its path, it’s my hope this alleyway will do the same and serve as a reminder to Uticans as we reflect on who we are, where we came from, and where we want to go. I’m beyond grateful Mayor Palmieri and his administration not only believed in our district’s vision, but went above and beyond in bringing this project to life. It’s a testament to our city’s commitment to our people as we value our history, our future, and the places we gather everyday in between.”