This community has a grand tradition of rising up to meet challenges.
When Glens Falls Hospital needed a new wing, people dug deep and got it built.
When there was a dream for a downtown theater, a group of local business people turned the old Woolworth store into a state of the art theater and hub of downtown activity.
When the Crandall Public Library was bursting at the seems, voters made sure it became a reality and money was raised.
This community not only dreams big, it get things done.
So, it was exciting to see a group of “can do” community leaders step forward Friday on a mission to rescue the Glens Falls Civic Center from auction, and equally disconcerting to hear Sen. Betty Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec say don’t bother.
Our two local Queensbury legislators have obviously been in Albany too long. They’ve traded the “we can do anything” optimism of our region for a “why bother even try” philosophy of the Legislature.
This all started a week ago when Bill Kenny, a supervisor from Glens Falls, said he was willing to put a proposal to increase the bed tax by 1 percent to a committee vote if one of four supervisors — Lake George’s Dennis Dickinson, Bolton’s Ron Conover, Horicon’s Matt Simpson or Stony Creek’s Edna Frazier — were to call him to say they had changed their mind.
Dickinson made it clear he believes the money Lake George hotels will lose from events like the state basketball tourney is the lesser evil to the $1 bed tax, but we have yet to hear from Conover, Simpson or Frazier.
Before the proposal gained any traction, Sen. Little and Assemblyman Stec were lamenting how “tough” it would be to get a bed tax increase approved by the Legislature.
Sen. Little bluntly said, “My conference, the Senate, is not interested and will not pass any new taxes.”
Translation: Game over. Not worth my time.
It is a sad indictment that either legislator is willing to lead a fight to change that. Don’t we elect them to do the difficult things? Don’t we elect them to stir up trouble if it is for a good cause? Don’t we elect them to do what is in the best interest of our community?
If our local community leaders had that attitude, there would be no new library, no Wood Theater and no cancer center at the hospital.
It was encouraging to see a group of over a dozen community leaders — people with a real track record for getting things done — jump into the fray Friday with a “Save our Civic Center” coalition.
The question is whether it is too late.
You can’t blame Mayor Diamond for not wanting to derail the auction. He has been lobbying for help for years with little support, and it is obvious the city can no longer support the Civic Center.
With an auction scheduled for Aug. 18, and the Civic Center likely to go for a bargain price, the coalition is fighting the clock. It needs to get one of the three supervisors to support the bed tax so that this issue gets the attention of the full board of supervisors.
Even if the auction goes forward as scheduled on Aug. 18, the Common Council still must approve a sale. What Glens Falls needs is another option. What the coalition needs to do is generate public support, build momentum that the Civic Center is worth saving, that it is integral to the quality of life that we all love so much.
It is a tall order, difficult and challenging to be sure, but not impossible.
Ken Tingley is editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.