I was struck by this section in the recent Recorder editorial (here):
Consider how much the Route 30 corridor in the town of Amsterdam has grown since Via Ponte was started in 2006 or how downtown Schenectady has been transformed during that time frame. Numerous buildings have been erected, renovated and filled with new tenants and businesses while not so much as a shovel has broken ground on Bridge Street.
Within a more than a week, the Recorder editors go from proponents of large scale demolition of the city to wondering why nothing is being built. Meanwhile the very mention of demolition draws huge swaths of public support with Chalmers as the rallying point. Then we wonder why everywhere else but here.
It’s actually quite simple. Most communities embrace a vision and then commit to making the vision happen knowing it’s tough and in the end may not work. I heard the director of Proctor’s speak several years ago and his vision of Schenectady and Proctor’s at the time seemed almost unbelievable and unattainable. Yet somehow he made it work when we look at where Proctor’s is today. Here on the other hand, any vision other than one embracing a decline of the city is hardly embraced at all. It’s treated as an abomination of thinking or perhaps a delusion.
Imagine if we had Proctor’s here and Philip Morris, the executive director, laid out his plan and vision. I would wager that he would be readily dismissed by the very people crying the loudest about why nothing is built here. In fact, we’d hear a good case to knock Proctor’s down so we could bring industry and business here.
I’ts just a vision thing.
PS Here’s a challenge if you want to prove me wrong: get Philip Morris here to give a one hour talk on vision and community. See what he has to say and then see the response.