The resistance to change in the Fulton community

OK, I really don’t want to be rude, as I have always been an agreeable fellow in the Fulton community, but this needs to be said. If I offend anyone at any time during the course of this narrative, feel free to discontinue reading and carry on with your day.

There will be no hard feelings.

I am a member of the Fulton Planning Commission and have made it a point to keep people in the community informed (via electronic media) as to new developments that have come across our table.

Over the past week, the majority of people I have spoken to about the plans for the old Vavoline/Express Oil and Lube property on South Second Street (near Empower FCU), have had nothing good to say about the news.

This property was brought in front of the Planning Commission for approval to gain permission for said redevelopment.

The plan is to give the building a drastic facelift and develop a pizzeria/restaurant, and drive thru ATM for Pathfinder Bank as well as compliment the property with lovely green space.

The negative response I have received from the community has been disappointing at best, and teetering on the end of appalling.

So I offer this alternative to the Fulton community. How about we just leave it as an empty garage? Yes, my fellow Fultonians, we can have yet another non-productive and empty rotting property on the main corridor through the city. Is that what is really desired?

Past events would have me believe that at this point. Shall we look at other examples of disapproval?

Every time a business wants to come into this city, people have seemed to taken issue with it.

People had a problem with Aldi’s proposal to take part of the dilapidated and half demolished Nestle factory and building a new store.

People had a problem with Cayuga Community College taking the dead, crumbling, and 3/4-empty River Glen Square property and developing it into a college campus.

People initially had issues when Kinney Drugs announced when they wanted to build on the site of the old Valley News building, even though the Valley News had NO intention of staying there as it was too much building for what their business morphed into.

People plumb blocked the Wilson Farms convenience store that wanted to go on the corner of Oneida and South Seventh streets and what became of that property? We ended up with one of the worst looking properties in the city of Fulton, not to mention a drug and prostitution ring that allegedly operated out of the apartments on said property, until it was busted up by law enforcement.

The best part of this all, these developments (or failed plans) re-purposed existing land and/or properties! No unnecessary sprawl was needed!

If the people of this community really want this city to simply die, then just say it.

Without a stronger tax base (which includes assessments which are directly tied to appearances as well as property specifications) and a reason to be here, you will NEVER attract the good paying jobs back to Fulton and you will NEVER help ease the property tax problems.

To achieve this, as I have said a million times in the past to many people, you need to take baby steps. A strong and vibrant Fulton is the goal. You need to build a foundation BEFORE you can build a structure.

If someone wants to make a go of a business, they have a good business plan and they are paying to make it happen, well so long as it isn’t a pornography shop then I say let them pursue their goal!

I have fought long and hard to try to better this city, from serving on city commissions and committees, to volunteering with civic organizations, to even running for elected office twice.

Perhaps I should simply give up the Planning Commission, give up the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, give up the community activism, and just pack up my things and head out of this town like 80% of the rest of my generation did 20 years ago.

It is painfully obvious that there is a fair portion of this community that appears to want nothing here, want nothing to change, and is content in having their community dying a “slow and comfortable” death.

And please, spare me the “don’t give up” speeches that many have given me in the past.

Save that energy and instead use it to talk to your fellow citizens and convince them to help make a difference, instead of sitting home and complaining about what others are trying to do to actually help this place.

Tell your fellow citizens to join “the resistance.”

Resist apathy. Resist poverty. Resist the bleak future that many have chosen to accept.

Join with those in this community who are fighting the good fight for our little city.

That’s all I have to say.

Now, the choice is yours.

What are YOU going to do?

Ralph E. Stacy Jr.
Fourth Ward Resident – city of Fulton


  1. Well said….but I believe the apathy is so thick in the town you couldn’t cut it with a knife from the old Foster knife works. People apparently have given up and are in their zombie mode!

  2. I left Fulton 17 years ago, and I am sad to say I don’t think it’ll get any better. It will go the way of a run down little town with crumbling houses and buildings. What is there to attract people there? A Walmart? 4 Duncan Donut stores, and a few run down bars? Seems to attract drugs, crime and poverty now. It used to be a gem of a little town, but once Miller, Birds Eye and Nestlé left, forget it. No one wants to come to Fulton. What a sad state of affair Fulton is in.

  3. Feel like I should doff my cap and lay prone on the ground after reading this piece . Nobody really cares what happens in Fulton , fix up the property or don’t . Fulton has been dying for many years , they are just to stupid to realize it .

  4. Ralph,
    I totally agree with everything you have written.. I’m usually not a person to get into any political issues, but for some strong reason I’m compelled to reply to this.. As part of the younger generation of this community, I’m am extremely concerned at how it will be in Fulton raising my children.. I worked for a small business here in Fulton for 8 years.. This business’ main office was based out of Long Island. When they would come to their Fulton office they were getting concerned at how this town was deteriorating.. With the finances to help they offered this city many different proposals to start some different types of businesses here they they felt very strongly would profit here and bring jobs and revenue.. Not once but twice maybe more they were turned down from the city.. They were completely dumb struck at the turn down since they saw this city in financial wreck and not surviving in the next, who knows how long…. In turn they decided they wanted to not have a business in a city like that and moved their business to Baldwinsville.. So I guess my point is same as yours.. My husband and I are trying to buy a house and I really don’t know if Fulton will be it.. Taxes are horrible to try to
    At least be in a part of a city they we feel will be safe enough for our children.. Sad at 36 these are struggles I have to face for my family.. I think we need more of my generation in power of this city.. With more younger ideas and passion to stay in a city where their family is. Maybe it could look and feel like it did when I was a kid

  5. I so agree. Change means growth, which can’t happen overnight, thus the baby steps needed to transition. New businesses are what we need here!

  6. So tell me, what IS the alternative? A planning board is there to make plans to improve the city. If the naysayers want a say then let them get on the planning board. Your job is tough and there are those who believe they know better. Yet those who think they can do a better job sit on their collective asses and let someone else do the work so they can criticize. You do the work, get the pizzaria up and running and I’ll bet they’ll be the first in line to stuff their faces.

  7. Ralph,
    Keep trying to help Fulton grow. I know it’s a hard road but your passion is obvious and we need more team players rather than comments from the couch.
    Have to say that’s why I’ve chose to start a new career in Cape Coral FL as people are so happy to see progress (sure that includes all the snowbirds). It’s amazed me over the last 2o years here how the homes, new restaurants, shopping centers are built and dilapidated downtown’s have improved. Housing market has never been better and service jobs/tourism employees a large sector of the population, don’t see too much manufacturing in this area.
    Good luck!

  8. Ralph…what a well written letter. You are so right! I truly believe that most Fultonians want our community to succeed, The loud voices of the negative ones seem to be what we hear…The silent majority has to open their mouths, and stand up and be heard. Our city needs private development more now than ever before. Don’t give up! The masses are behind you!

  9. If this is indeed the attitude of the residents of Fulton, then the only thing that need be built at this point is the 481 Fulton bypass.

  10. Ralph….I don’t know who you are talking to. The “public” probably wants the advancements and jobs. I understand some businesses did not want Aldi’s but as a consumer I do. The grocery spectrum in Fulton offers me choices. None of them are the same. Just moving one business site to another may improve the dead property, but doesn’t help with job creation. Part time job creation still doesn’t help people to stay here. I have basically always worked in this community. I have three part time jobs and now looking at retirement. My retirement won’t be much as I have chosen to support my hometown through my employment. And for my generation, there isn’t enough senior housing. That strip you are talking about could be used for that. Temp jobs and part time jobs is not expanding our city. We have been kept financially poor. My money goes where I can afford to spend it as much as I would always like to shop in support of local merchants.

  11. I have to say Thank you for saying that you are right on this point we need more business in Fulton I been coming to Fulton since 1975 before I move here 12years ago we need to do something with these old run down buildings and empty lots I like the idea about fixing up the old Valvoline/Express Oil and Lube property on South Second Street and do something with the Nestle If I had a way to help finish tearing it down I would all these empty and buildings it a eye sore.

  12. So I don’t think it’s the fact that people don’t want the change. The question here really is, how many more pizza shops does this city need? We have at least 7 that I can count right off the top of my head, and maybe I am missing some. How about trying to get some attractive businesses in here for potential jobs of some of these people here in this city? I see more people around this city and area that are on welfare, because they have lost their jobs at Millers, Birds Eye, Nestle and so on. And the sad part is they are getting content with being on welfare. Hell some of them have it better than I do, and I work three damn jobs. But no we want another pizza shop, that’s all good for the high school kids looking for part time jobs, but honestly who’s going to travel to Fulton because of a pizza shop. How about the movie theatre we had? Yup closed down and now turned into an eye glass place. How about the bowling alleys? Lake view is a dump, and doesn’t really have any leagues anymore, and the old bowl-o-Rama burnt years ago and was never rebuilt. The old mall is gone, where jamesway use to be, which also took the old arcade away. The high school has expanded, but there is nothing here for the kids to do. So why would they stay in Fulton as grown ups? Everyone looks for the quick fix, not the better fix. So yeah let’s turn it into another pizza shop, it’s just what Fulton needs. Why not invest in the kids like building a skate park, a movie theatre, or have some summer events for the kids. It’s pretty bad that when the town of Volney does something for the kids that you have to sign up for, that it fills up real quick by mostly kids from the city of Fulton, not from the town of Volney. I know that for a fact, as my kids have been left out due to no spots available because of that reason. And while your at it why not invest in something for adults from 25-45 to do, as well as some jobs!!! Work on that for a bit!

  13. Get Aldi’s in Town,The competition will be good for Stupplers and Price Chopper.
    See what Domino’s thinks about moving to the East Side main street, Get business to replace Waby’s and the typewriter Store. The only Family run Business’s left are Raponi’s/Yager’s/ and Bellinger’s

  14. Ralph–You made me get the old Fiddle out–Boo-Hoo–Its going to take more than a Another Pizza Shop to put a Smile on my Face–There`s more Renters than Homeowners–Taxes, Pensions,Retirement,are Sky High–Tear it Down–Thats Whats Wrong With Fulton–They Tore it Down Years Ago–Nobody ncan fix this Broken Town–Fulton is Broke Now–If you want to Borrow My Fiddle and Sing the Blues–Your More Than Welcome–Tear It Down

  15. I think the oil change building would be an ideal place for a branch office of DSS. I wish you well Mr. Stacy, we could sure use more thought and foresight like yours.

  16. If anyone has been resistant to change, its been the mayor and city council. The city needed to eliminate, reduce and combine services years ago such that property taxes would be in line with the property values in Fulton. But instead, the mayor and city council just kept gaming the system(reassessing and raising levies) such that they offered services(police and fire being the biggest) that the city couldn’t afford then and can’t afford now. Anyone who can financially take the hit is getting out of here. Anyone who can’t, is resigned to being trapped and another pizza shop is not going to change that reality.

  17. I do not oppose development of any kind when it would improve Fulton. Fulton with one of the highest property taxes around can not offer its residents anything of quality. When my husband takes me out to a special dinner , we have to go to Liverpool or Syracuse. Sure we have 2 mid priced restaurants but people get bored with the selection. They should put there a higher end restaurant. We have plenty of pizza joints , subways and fast food places.

  18. I agree with building fulton up and trying to make it better. But don’t agree with the idea of another pizza shop, or bank location. We need to put something in that Fulton could actually use, some place for kids to go and hang out, put in some arcade games maybe, and sell something fulton doesn’t sell hot dogs and such, there are at least 13 places to purchase pizza in Fulton put a moratorium on pizza shops. We need something for our youth to do besides The nasty bowling alley and bilou

  19. FULTON TAXES ARE VERY HIGH the older prople are crunched and the younger also. ther is nothing left in fulton for the younger people and there children working 2 and 3 jobs ..and so easy to get assistance … we need industry , new stores . aldies would of been good not so many empty buildings …that raise out taxes yes im old and will go down with the ship ( FULTON ) but for the younger people save money leave here get a better life

  20. I would like to thank everyone who commented on my letter to the editor of this publication. I mean EVERYONE, both the positive and the negative. The fact that you even took the time to read and respond to this shows that at least there is still some dialogue to be had in this community. I would encourage all of you, and anyone who happens to read the letter after this posting, to get in the fight and let your voices be heard. A populous who stays silent is a populous who has already lost. You all have a lot to bring to the table, and if you can find the common ground you might be surprised as to what you can accomplish.

    I would also like to give a very special thank you for Mr. Taylor and his response. You proved my point beautifully, and for that I guess I owe you one. I will keep your offer of the fiddle in reserve, and perhaps get back to you on a later date if it is needed. Yes Mr. Taylor, that means me and “my blues” aren’t going away. :-)

    Thanks all, and see you around town!


  21. A city needs leadership, but it’s been starved of such for over 20 years. The same tired old face and his kangaroo court have led the city into a non-recoverable nosedive. As others have said, city services should have been consolidated many years ago and mutual aid agreements and MOUs put in place to cover gaps for fire and police coverage after-hours. Another pizzeria isn’t much of an economic driver considering the ton of boring pizza and fast food choices already present.

    It’s time to start condemning and razzing Fulton like Detroit. Speaking of Deteoit, I’m surprised Fulton hasn’t claimed bankruptcy yet. Change city code to limit the amount of out of state property owners who are slum kings. Start enforcing code. The Broken Windows Theory isn’t just a theory – it’s a real social phenomena in Fulton.

    The only way people comply these days is when you hit them in the wallet. Most are comfortable living in a place which looks straight out of Appalachia. Instead of digging in and restarting the city from the floor up, the Mayor’s master plan is simply to keep subsisting on menial handouts from the State. It’s great the State wants to dole out $200k for dredging the lake, but has no plan on investing a similar amount to fix the city’s physical, business, and economic structure. It’s time for some Greek austerity measures.

    Many Fultonians still there are simply in denial. Their concern ends at the front door. I saw the writing on the wall and bailed Fulton 23 years ago. Every time I visit Mom, it’s like nothing has changed since I left.

  22. Moving from Fulton was a sweet/bitter experience. Spent all of my 40+married years in Fulton, raising my family. I held part time jobs after the kids were older, hubby worked a great job out of town. But the time had come, to leave the homestead and winter weather and settle down in a warmer climate. When we return for visits, I am stuck by the deterioration of the city. I read the online news of Fulton, Volney and Granby. Drugs and assault seem to be headlining the front page and police reports. Our quiet little neighborhood has gone from 1 family homes to many rentals. The nearby park has nothing and the lake, where my oldest children learned to swim, is still under utilized. Many grandchildren still live in central NY. My hopes when they were born was not to become an expert fast food burger flipper. No job? No car! No travel to get a better job!! Welfare is calling their name just to survive. The sad part is, I run into NE and NY transplants down here all of the time and when we exchange where are you froms? I tell them, north of Syracuse, NY, near Lake Ontario. I am ashamed of being from the City with a Future. The tax base is paid from hard working blue collar, landlords and seniors. Seniors get a deserved break on taxes, landlords pay on 1 property that can house multiple families that don’t pay land taxes which leaves blue collar to bare the brunt. White collar?? For the most part, they live in Onondaga county or Oswego area, not that I blame them. Industry is needed, not pizza. But anything new is a step towards the future and hope for a dying town.

  23. Fulton… “A city with a future”… yeah right. Fulton isn’t even a has been because it never was. It’s sad when a city has a lot of potential and resources to turn things around and doesn’t do anything to help itself.

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