6:29am

Mon April 14, 2014
Regional Coverage

Quality of life, infrastructure investment key to urban renewal

Upstate New York’s cities need to make investments in quality of life if they want to recreate their past economic vitality, according to a local expert on cities.

Mildred Warner of Cornell University recently held a conference at the college on the economic state of upstate New York’s largest urban centers.

She says the region’s cities aren’t getting the "full gamut" of rediscovery by younger generations because they’re not investing enough in areas like quality of life and infrastructure.

Basically, that means more people would move back into cities if roads and parks were in better condition.

Warner says in a service-based economy, it’s the quality of life in a city that’s the basis for future economic development.

The professor is critical of policies coming from Albany; curbing property tax rates and investing in glitzy economic projects rather than concentrating on basic infrastructure.

She says cities can only be so innovative without more help from the state.

She says mandates like rising pension and health care costs pose a burden too. As for consolidating services between county and city, Warner says municipalities only see cost savings about half the time, while it will usually result in better services.

Across upstate New York, the cities have higher concentrations of poverty than the suburbs.

Warner does note that counties are recognizing their urban cores are important to the region’s economy.

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