Perhaps the state of planning in Schoharie County is best represented by the apparent “get it all done at once” approach to repairing the bridges that move traffic through the county’s most populated and heavily traveled communities. If so, it is not surprising that the county planning department would continue wasting time and resources on an improbable (and unnecessary) expansion of water and sewer infrastructure along the Route 7 corridor in a time of severe public sector retrenchment and almost nonexistent private investment.
The narrow vision is reflective of what happens when the planning process is dominated by those who are either incompetent or self-serving (or perhaps both?). Sadly, it would seem that this is
In previous years, this model of laying new infrastructure to spur costly and unsustainable development was flawed (at best). In 2011, it’s completely asinine and comes with dangerous opportunity costs for ‘undeveloping’ communities that need to be focusing on ways to make life a little more bearable for the remaining residents who are either unable to leave or choose to stay for some inexplicable reason.
Until we as a nation grow the balls to tax the rich (who are doing quite nicely in this economy) ‘economic development’ efforts will continue to be nothing more than an endless waiting game. But there has to be something better than waiting for jobs to magically appear, especially when more jobs are being lost than can possibly be offset by any new ones that might come along.
Instead, county and local planners could be pro-active and leverage the resources that are available to ease some of the pressures faced by
I still think that the Town, Village and County planning/economic development offices should be relocated to Downtown Cobleskill in the
Another priority should be to site several access points in Downtown areas for individuals applying for public assistance (Medicaid, HEAP, food stamps, etc.). There may be many residents who are unaware of the benefits they are entitled to simply because they are unable to get to
County planners should also look to rehabilitating various Downtown sites for use as single-room occupancy dwellings. New housing opportunities that reflect the emerging characteristics of the population (chronically unemployed and rapidly declining in economic status) should be developed in a way that actually leverages the remaining amenities and services in the regions downtown areas. The local housing stock is already moving in this direction (call them rooming houses, flophouses, welfare hotels, SROs…whatever), it’s really just a question of whether or not people will live in campers, barns and sheds in remote areas or in safe, clean and affordable units in downtown areas in walking distance to services and amenities that they could benefit from.
Further, there is no reason that county residents must rely on obscenely inflated food prices at local supermarkets when the region is surrounded by farmland. County planners and local organizations should be building systems for channeling affordable, locally produced food directly into our communities, bypassing the large-scale processors and costly logistics and distribution networks used by retailers. As energy prices continue to soar, the benefits of making these changes becomes plainly obvious and critically necessary.Sadly (or perhaps not) the region cannot sustain or support unlimited development of hotel chains and pharmacies. Whoever told county planners and local officials that this is the case was wrong, and they should stop listening to them. If the Galasso’s believe that new infrastructure will pay for itself, then let them pay for it! While these changes need to happen on a grassroots level, there also needs to be regime change at the county level, or at least a dramatic change in direction.