Mayoral candidate Dan Hall said something at Sunday’s candidates forum that struck me.
It was about various plans and studies that the city conducts from time to time.
“They go up on a shelf. Nothing happens,” Hall said, proceeding to mention that a lot of the initiatives out of study conducted a few years ago have not been implemented.
He was referring to the “Art and Culture Gateway to the Gateway to the Adirondacks” downtown vision and development strategy that was prepared by Peter J. Smith & Company back in 2012.
I spent an hour on Monday looking over a draft copy of the report given to me by my predecessor. Among the interesting ideas were build a new performing arts center at the corner of Broad, South and School streets and build an amphitheater overlooking the water.
Some ideas did happen or are in the pipeline such as creating a public art trail downtown and starting an open air market. That idea is morphing into the year-round farmer’s market as part of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
An idea to create mid-block plazas in the area of South Street, Hudson Avenue and Elm streets has not come to pass.
Some of these ideas won’t happen such as a suggestion to redevelop the former St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church into a theater and performance venue. That obviously won’t happen because that is now the home of Just Water.
I wanted to find out more about what happened with this plan but I couldn’t find any more stories in our archives or information on the city website.
In my short time with this beat, I have learned that the city needs to do some more long-range plans: both financial and for infrastructure. Without an overarching plan, individual are done piecemeal and do not really tie together into a cohesive whole.
It is important the plan be aspirational, but also achievable with short- medium and long-term goals.
Another observation, which has also been mentioned by council candidates, is that the city’s website needs to be revamped and made more user friendly. There are minutes and agendas going back about a year, but no further than that. There also seems to be a dearth of other useful information including the city’s current budget and labor contracts. I have been able to obtain this information through Freedom of Information Law requests, but it would be useful if it were already up on the website.