The iconic Utica Tower will soon be no more.
The Utica Landmark Tower Corporation’s board of directors has decided to decommission and turn off the tower and the seven-foot red letters spelling “Utica” will be removed.
The 125-foot structure was mounted in 2014. Construction costs were donated by local businessman Frank Giotto to erect the tower and the board of directors has paid for all operating expenses and maintenance of the tower since then.
In the last year, one person has twice cut through the ten-foot barbed wire fence to climb to the top of the tower. Both incidents required first responders and a costly crane. The crane disrupted the top layer of soil in the area, of which lower layers of the soil are considered contaminated.
"There are people who climb the Empire State Building," said board member Mark Cushman. "There are people who climb you name it. There is nothing that is 100-percent fool-proof. We have done the best and the most that we could do to reasonably protect the tower from trespassers."
Cushman said the state's response was to "open up" the agreement, and call for several reviews.
"The state and the bureaucratic red tape that they're so well known for wants to open the doors and just put another stranglehold not only on the tower, but on the donor that being Mr. Giotto and the board that serves to make this tower happen," Cushman said.
A state spokesperson said the tower is overdue for an inspection.
The Canal Corporation owns the land and officials there say the agency is open to discussing ways to maintain public safety.
State Senator Joseph Griffo has been trying to keep the conversation going, in an effort to save the landmark. He has facilitated and mediated discussions.
"That's unfortunate one individual has caused this kind of attention and negativism because of their actions, and in my opinion, there wasn't enough consequence to that individual's actions. So now the community potentially suffers as a result of this," Griffo said.
Griffo also said the City of Utica may have to step in to save the tower.
The plan right now is to take it down by the end of the year.
The tower's lights were turned off today.
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri wants to work with both sides to find a resolution.