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The Utica Home Ownership Center conducted a community survey that revealed that residents' greatest concern was graffiti. As a result, the City of Utica used the Cities of Service Graffiti Busters Blueprint to engage citizens to remove graffiti and replace graffiti hotspots with community-driven murals.

To develop the community-based murals that were to replace the graffiti, a local artist gathered input from each neighborhood's youth residents and incorporated illustrations of real people from the community to highlight Utica's diversity. These strategies have had a unifying effect on Utica's diverse communities — including the city's significant refugee population — and have targeted community concerns, instilled a sense of pride and accountability among citizens, and have more closely connected city departments with local citizens.

Utica has been a member of the Cities of Service coalition since 2009, when former Mayor David R. Roefaro signed the Declaration of Service. Current Mayor Robert Palmieri reaffirmed the city's commitment to service by signing the Declaration again in 2012.

Mayor Robert Palmieri

Robert Michael Palmieri was elected mayor of the City of Utica in 2011. Prior to being chosen as Utica’s chief executive, Mayor Palmieri served his East Utica neighborhood as a member of the Utica Common Council for fourteen years. He served as weed and seed liaison, deputy public safety commissioner, and codes commissioner.