Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

In reading about the progress of Amsterdam’s pedestrian bridge over the Mohawk River, I was a little skeptical about the attendance estimates of at least 30,000 per year cited in the Maintenance and Economic Impact report for the project. But recently, a co-worker told me about the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY and it’s reported 500,000 annual visitors.

I had not heard of the bridge before, but after taking a look at the walkway’s web site (which mentions the 500K per year statistic) and seeing some of the pictures of the scenery, I thought it might be fun to take the family on a road trip and see if Poughkeepsie’s “Bridge to Nowhere” lived up to the hype.

You can click through the photos and read the captions to see how the trip went…

So here’s my take –

Poughkeepsie’s Walkway Over the Hudson shows that yes, lots of people will in fact travel to a bridge simply to walk over it and enjoy the view. As it is now, there isn’t much to do on either side of Poughkeepsie’s bridge, save for a few ice cream or refreshment stands, so the people you see walking it are there for scenery alone.  The Mohawk River will not provide quite as grand scenery as the Hudson, however the view will still be quite nice.

As far a numbers go for the Poughkeepsie bridge, I’m having a hard time believing the 500K visitors per year statistic (maybe they had that when the bridge opened four years ago.)  But if I guestimate an average of 1000 people per day over the course of 200 days, then 200K per year seems a reasonable number. So if we get even 15% of that traffic, then 30K per year for Amsterdam’s bridge doesn’t seem out of line.

And I think our bridge will actually have a couple of advantages over Poughkeepsie’s. For one, it will be shorter; it won’t take 1-2 hours to cross both directions, which may appeal to some people. Secondly, there will be actual grass and trees on the bridge which will make it nice to spend time sitting while enjoying the scenery. On Poughkeepsie’s bridge, it’s all concrete; you can stop and sit on benches for a while, but generally the idea is to keep moving.

Looking further down the road, I think that once the bridge is connected to Riverlink and Main St, it will be an even more attractive destination. If you can park one place on a Saturday afternoon, walk the bridge, maybe go shopping (one day?), get dinner and then walk to a show at Riverlink, that will certainly be worth travelling an hour to spend the day here. And with the addition of a decent hotel, it will also certainly make Amsterdam an attractive over-night stop for people travelling north to the Adirondacks.

I’ve been critical of the public process (or lack thereof) by which this project has come about. But I think at this point, the wheels are irreversibly in motion and it’s time to stop complaining about it and just get behind it because there is really no other credible plan to develop the waterfront. This project has the potential to put more money in local business’s cash registers as well as more tax dollars in city coffers which can be put toward infrastructure improvement. And just as importantly, the project will improve the quality of life for those living here, helping to shore up those all-important property values.

Now if you want to comment on this, please let’s not re-hash the old arguments. And please do not ask why we can’t redirect this money to fix infrastructure. The question has been answered hundreds of times – it’s state law, it can’t be changed. I might add, however, that it’s my understanding that state money is coming down the pipe for neighborhood improvements in the East End and the Reid Hill area. So it’s all getting done – eventually.

So anyway, let’s discuss the future. Do you think the apparent success of Poughkeepsie’s pedestrian bridge is a good indicator of what we can expect in Amsterdam?

Grumpy Old Man on Internet News

Posted: January 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m oooooold! And I’m not happy! And I don’t like things now compared to the way they used to be. All this progress — phooey! In my day, we didn’t have these blogs and facebooks and twitters. We got all our local news from the newspaper. You’d have to wait a whole day, or sometimes two, just to find out what happened a block away. And you had ten year old kids throwin’ your paper in your trees and through your windows and you still had to pay ‘em every week. And that’s the way it was and we liked it!

Life was simpler then. There wasn’t all this concern about memes and editorial slants and stuff. It my days, if the paper made a mistake, we didn’t care. They’d run a correction two weeks later, stuck way back on page 10 in small type, and that made everything OK. Back in 1943 we thought Dewey was president for at least a month. When we learnt it wasn’t so, we just said, “Flobble-de-flee!” ’cause we were idiots and we didn’t know what else to say! And that’s the way it was and we liked it!

Life was a carnival! We didn’t need internet web sites for information. In my day, if there was snow outside, you tuned into WGY and listened to Don Weeks read the school closings for a half an hour. If you got distracted and weren’t listening when they got to your county, well too bad! You had to wait through an hour of cheesy 70’s music and then listen to it all over again. And that’s the way it was and we liked it that way!

Word-Press???  Flobble-de-flee! In my day, we believed everything Dan Rather said and never thought for a second he might be biased. We just believed whatever we were told because we were illiterate and ignorant and we didn’t know any better! Just a bunch o’ Cro-Magnons, gettin’ our news two days late, not knowin’ who’s president, listening to the school closings for hours, believin’ everything without question and that’s the way it was and we liked it! Weeeeeeee LOVED IT!

Please note, this was not written to offend any of my friends working in the “old media” industry :  )

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Posted: December 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone reading the Pars Nova blog.

A special thank you to all those who contributed regularly to the discussion this past year:
(Roughly ordered by frequency of posts)

Diane Hatzenbuhler
Robert Purtell
Gerald Skrocki
Karin Hetrick
Ann Thane
Rob Millan
Bill Wills
Charlie Kraebel

Thank you for caring about our community enough to debate the difficult issues in a public forum. I’m looking forward to another year of  challenging conversation!

Our Neighbors to the Northwest

Posted: November 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

I thought readers might enjoy this blog called Res Publica, which is about politics in Gloversville and written by a former councilman. I enjoy checking in on this one every so often to see what’s up. It’s strangely comforting sometimes to know that other cities are struggling with many of the same things that we are.

Awkward Clarification

Posted: September 6, 2011 in Consolidation, Uncategorized

My previous blog post entitled “A Proposal for the Amsterdam Recorder” was, in fact, a satire based on two recent opinion pieces that appeared in the Recorder in regards to consolidation and shared services. I’m not sure how well this idea worked, probably because I did not get completely  over-the-top ridiculous with my suggestions. In fact,  on re-reading what I wrote, some of the ideas actually do make sense! I was amused to learn that the Leader Herald actually did print the Recorder’s papers when their power was knocked out last week. And as Diane commented, I too would be glad to get both paper’s content in the same place.  But if you found my reasoning a bit vague and somewhat patronizing, well, that was the point : )

It’s no secret that local papers everywhere are struggling. The number of people who choose to get their news on “paper” is declining daily.  Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, when newspapers started to become popular, news travelled  slow and therefore, we created newspaper companies  that were small and that provided for the local people’s needs. Some people actually lived their entire lives only getting their news from the local paper.  But today we have radio, television and the internet to get our news. Today’s world is not the same as it was in 1930. Newspapers like the Amsterdam Recorder need to start thinking outside their territorial boundaries if they are to survive.

Inspired by the Amsterdam Recorder’s steadfast advocacy for consolidation and regional collaboration, I believe the best thing for them is to consolidate with The Leader Herald. Now I don’t have any real facts to show that this would be the best thing for them economically or if this would actually serve the needs of the people of Fulton and Montgomery County any better, but to me it just seems like the right thing to do.

Actually, it’s a little ridiculous that this paper has to be reminded of these realities, especially when our neighbor Schenectady County, with a population roughly the same as Fulton and Montgomery combined, has only one paper, the Schenectady Gazette. Now if one paper can cover that many people, why do we need two? I am sure that there are many areas where these papers are duplicating services like advertising, billing, and circulation. I bet that both these paper’s printing presses are being underutilized too. Why not just use one and save money? And I am sure that the combined reporting staff can be downsized and still cover twice the area they once did at the same salaries. I mean it just makes sense, right?

The concept of the neighborhood paper, while a nice one, simply doesn’t work. Competition between papers only hinders progress. The Amsterdam Recorder should adopt a collaborative approach which everyone will benefit from. So what do you say, editors?