Friday, August 28, 2009

Is it time for a ‘community plaza’ in Newberry Square?

Now that the Town of Cobleskill has backed out of its plans to relocate its offices downtown, other agencies and municipalities would do well to step up to the plate and take up where the town left off. Though the town’s decision not to move, as well as it’s refusal to seriously consider moving into the Newberry Square building is lamentable, they ought to get credit for at least making the effort. Most importantly, the Town’s recent interest underscores the Village’s own long-term inaction on this issue. For the past ten years there has been talk but little serious movement on bringing the Village offices back into Downtown Cobleskill.

Why not? The current location makes absolutely no sense. It deprives village residents of a user-friendly civic center that they could walk or bike to while also depriving the village’s downtown business district of a stable, long-term anchor tenant that would generate plenty of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The original move to Mineral Springs Road was dumb and the apparent unwillingness to move back is even dumber.

Not to mention the fact that Cobleskill’s Main Street is in desperate need of an upstanding tenant for the Newberry Square building, whose boarded up windows are currently pulling down everything around it. It’s one thing for a community to lack vision when it comes to sustainable long-term growth and development strategies, but it’s quite another when it can’t see the obvious benefits of a simple plan staring it square in the face.

But the village isn’t the only possible agency in a position to help revitalize Downtown Cobleskill by moving there. Virtually right next door to the village offices are the headquarters of Schoharie County’s Department of Planning and Development, Department of Economic Development and the Schoharie County Rural Preservation Corporation which handles Section 8 housing all located at 349 Mineral Springs Road. Imagine this; the folks from planning and economic development themselves helping to develop and revitalize a distressed building which could then serve as a community civic center or ‘community plaza’ drastically raising the stock of Cobleskill’s Main Street!

Even better, how about the village and county (and perhaps the town) go in on it together? I know, I know…obvious benefits…simple plan. Silly me, I guess.


Marfis said...

The group who explored the Newberry building with tourguide Nadeau found it not fit for occupancy. Ioannou, who chose not to have insurance on his property even when he had tenants, and who chooses to make no effort to improve or pay taxes on the property is not a fit landlord for municipal or county offices.

Sean said...

I most certainly agree, which is one reason I think the village or the county (or both) should purchase the property or assume ownership via eminent domain.

Marfis said...

"...the village or the county (or both) should purchase the property or assume ownership via eminent domain."

We are in agreement if there would be funding, apart from increased taxes, available to make the building usable.

Sean said...

I'm actually willing to allow for a small expenditure of our local tax dollars for such a project. I think it could be a very beneficial strategic investment for Main Street.

Additionally, I understand that Mark Nadeau has outlined a vision for the site that is similar to what I mentioned here. Good for him.

More people need to realize that the village offices, the IDA, and the county planning department should not be housed on Mineral Springs road, especially when there are numerous properties along Main Street in need of rehabilitation and anchor tenants.

Friends of the people said...

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Anonymous said...

Just do the "RIGHT THING"!

The Village and Town Boards need to step up to the plate and purchase the Newberry building, make the necessary improvements and lead by example.

The Village and Town Offices would now be a central part of the downtown business area.

What a statement to your community.