Wankel Park is the only park in South Utica, but if you're not from that part of the city, it might be difficult to find. It has no grand entrance and budget cuts have left parts of it in disrepair. Now county officials are teaming up to spruce it up. As our Sarah Blazonis tells us, it won't cost taxpayers a dime and provides one group of people with the experience they can use to start new lives.
UTICA, N.Y. -- It was after a recent little league game at Wankel Park that Dan Trevisani says someone pointed out to him that the park was missing any kind of entrance.
"Now you just say, Chanatry's Plaza, that's really it. Most people come here and say, 'But where?' They don't really know there's anything behind it," said Trevisani
Work began Monday to change that.
Inmates from the Oneida County Correctional Facility will plant shrubs and other greenery to create a grand entrance to the park. County Legislator Trevisani organized the clean-up along with the city and Sheriff's Office as part of the Inmate Educational Work Program.
"We're building the educational platform of these individuals when they're incarcerated in our facility so that when they leave the Oneida County Jail, they'll have the basis for something to expand on when they get out into the community so hopefully they can get a job," said Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol.
Because the work is being done by inmates, it isn't costing the city.
"We're doing more with less, and I think this is a prime example. It's a team effort of everyone here," said Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri.
The park is also home to South Utica Little League, an all-volunteer group. Organizers say they're grateful for any help in beautifying their home field.
"We have people coming in just this week alone from all over New York State to play a tournament here," said South Utica Little League President Laureen Howard. "It'll be very nice to have the first sign over on French Road and then the second sign here so that when they do get here, they know where to go."
Trevisani says the project will take about 15 hours of work done over several days to complete.