I find myself not following along with the usual narratives yet again. The Sunday Recorder editorial states:
But it’s not all bad. A lot of Amsterdam’s problems aren’t all that different than what other Upstate New York cities are facing. The city has many positives, and it’s time to showcase them.
If I did not know any better that we cannot and should not market, I’d almost believe that the editorial does indeed make a case for promoting and –gasp– marketing the city. After all is not ‘showcasing’ a form of marketing and sales promotion?
Then the editorial states:
Amsterdam is a place with several historic structures, including the mansion that now serves as City Hall and the Lynch Literacy Academy.
I’m amused at the heralding of city hall as a historically significant piece of architecture for showcasing to the outside world while simultaneously a committee looks to unload it so it can move into the mall. I sure hope we do not showcase any of the interior or the rose garden as that is simply trite and meaningless and rather than suggesting an appreciation of history or architecture or pride in our community and public spaces, it shows how remarkably foolish we are in spending our money. Should we not showcase the mall instead as that is truly to what we aspire?
Moving on, we then get to this editorial on Bridge Street:
The improvements can only help to draw customers to the existing businesses on Bridge Street and will hopefully encourage commercial growth in the neighborhood. There is no reason that eventually the South Side couldn’t start drawing folks from western Montgomery County, Fulton County and even Schenectady County.
Who knows, if people like the neighborhood enough, they may even decide to live nearby.
So once again, sounds like the editors are talking marketing. Let me leave it at that.
What most troubles me in the above is the notion of commercial development preceding residential development as the default logic to growth in the city. I simply do not understand. People will not choose to live near commercial growth if it is not the right type of commercial growth and in fact, most commercial growth dissuades people from living nearby. But somehow, residential growth as an engine of growth is not deemed a viable strategy here. This is what drove much of the criticism of repurposing Chalmers as residential. We have tried for decades to foster residential growth via commercial growth rather than vice-versa. It’s simply astounding how long we will embrace a failed strategy and never once question it. Let me go on the record as questioning it (yet again).
What strikes me as particularly odd in this Bridge Street and Chalmers saga is the lack of a vision or future state. While proponents for Chalmers were mocked and criticized at the prospect of river side apartments, the completely null and void vision of ‘commercial growth’ is embraced even with no clearly articulated vision of what exactly it will be. Apparently that is OK; it’s just got to better than what someone is for. Nihilism rules.
I get a lot of flak for being sardonic and sarcastic here; but is it any wonder when reason fails?