Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Editorials. . . .

From "GateHouse News Service" . . . Our view: Be smart about local growth pattern
Continuing suburban sprawl not in our best interests.

The New Hartford Business Park could become a case study in how not to promote growth and development.

It is simply shifting local jobs to a new location, not adding jobs to our region.
This editorial "gets it." All we do in this region in the name of "growth" and "development" is "rearrange the deck chairs" shifting economic activity from the city and villages to the suburbs and one suburban location to another while the regional "ship" sinks, losing business, jobs and people to other parts of the country.

From "Observer Dispatch" and NH Planning Board Chairman Jerome Donovan . . . Guest's view: 840 business park access must be a Town Board priority in new year.
. . . we must work to fulfill the potential of the vision we as a town have invested in for nearly two decades. And we must do so using every economic development tool available in concert with private investment.

The town board’s failure to take up the break-in-access resolution continues to unnecessarily delay:

  • Development of the Business Park.
  • Expansion and diversification our tax base.
  • The easing of congestion at area intersections, including the infamous Jay-K intersection.
  • Improving access to Middle Settlement Road from Park View Estates.
  • The creation of new jobs which will strengthen the local economy and support retail sales which generate critically important revenues for the town.
This editorial does NOT "get it." I won't detail why the current business park was never the town's "vision," but, instead, refer interested readers to the 1999 Environmental Impact Statement for what was then proposed to be a town-owned industrial park. The vision then was entirely different from the vision now. This editorial shows how the regional vision has now been lost in the myopia of looking just at New Hartford.

Why should "expansion" of the tax base be an objective of town government when it carries with it the responsibility of expanding and maintaining public infrastructure? With all of the expansion of tax base in New Hartford has come a need to tax residents even more. . . as its residents will discover when tax bills get opened in January. If town government isn't working for its residents, who is it working for?

While easing congestion increases convenience, isn't congestion what comes with a lot of economic activity? When the congestion along Genesee Street in Utica was relieved by the North-South Arterial in the 1960s, what followed? What happened to the economic activity that was there?

As indicated by the first editorial, hoped-for "new jobs" are an illusion and will come from someplace else in the local economy. . . Hold that thought for a moment.

The first editorial pointed out something else:
. . . The age of the automobile led to the spread of growth into suburban communities . . .
While the automobile changed what is "local," our government which was organized on a pre-automobile concept of "local" has not changed. The result has been (not only here, but elsewhere in New York State) suburbs and the cities they economically depend upon making policy decisions that hurt the city-suburban region as a whole. In Upstate, we have what has been documented by the Brookings Institute as one of the worst cases of sprawl in the nation . . . sprawl without growth in population . . . The result is extremely high levels of taxation which drive more people away and create a need for even higher taxes.

New Hartford, Whitestown, and Utica being separate jurisdictions makes about as much sense as east and west Utica being separately governed. If there was a Municipality of Greater Utica instead, somehow I think we would still have an apple orchard in New Hartford . . . or a business park there reserved for manufacturing.


Anonymous said...

Aside from the constant, completely unrealistic and not to be obtained Municipality of Greater Utica, the commnents of all leave out one salient point. The idea of expanding the tax base is predicated on the goal of minimizing taxes. It will take analysis not present in all three "editorials " to ascertain whether, or not, suburban expansion of a commercial and industrial nature is worth it to New Hartford and the area. It is interesting that so much is being made of a tiny effort in New Hartford while not a peep was heard concerning the suburand sprawl and business checker boarding in suburban Rome. There, a whole new city was financed by government at the expense of both old cities! The New Hartford obsession is getting tiresome.

Greens and Beans said...

After reading both editorials I wondered where Mr. Donovan was coming from. Why is he attempting to influence new Town Board into thinking that the “morphed” New Hartford Business Park agenda was to be service industry based? Why did the Town of New Hartford abandon the original intent for the Park to be originally centered on manufacturing businesses? Did the Hartford’s move to the Park change the entire complexion intent of the Park? Could this impetuous reversal be the reason why the Town failed to file a revised Environmental Impact Statement? Does the fact that the BOCES’ and the New Hartford Central School District’s plans to construct a new bus maintenance facility (incidentally, on the land donated by the Business Park’s Developer) have any influence on the intense pressure placed on the NYS Department of Transportation and several elected State Officials to insert an intersection on the 840 expressway? Even if this additional exit would negate the fact of having Route 840 remain as an expressway? Could this be the reason why the planned access drive emanating from Clark Mills Road, that was included in the original Environmental Impact Statement, was suddenly abandoned? Certainly, an access drive from Clark Mills Road would cost the taxpayers much less than the projected $10 million Route 840 overpass exit is projected to cost. Before the new Town Board should consider any of the “revisionist history” suggestions from those who are attempting to sell them a flimflammed bill of goods, they would do well to partake of a Business Park history lesson before even more taxpayer money is frivolously squandered.

Strikeslip said...

"The idea of expanding the tax base is predicated on the goal of minimizing taxes" . . . But the plain fact is that it has NOT minimized taxes. "Expanding the tax base" only makes sense where the public infrastructure is already in place and is underutilized.

Why is "right-sizing" government an unrealistic goal? Look around you to see what "wrong-sized" government has wrought: A Water Authority that doesn't know its limits; and a Part County Sewer District that is primarily controlled by people living outside its boundaries. Had there been a municipality correctly sized to match the the reality that suburban Utica is just Utica overflowing its banks, neither of these out-of-control and seemingly unanswerable entities would have had to have been created.

New Hartford Voter said...


It is readers such as yourself that make me upset. You obviously are part of the Earle Reed crew?

Quit complaining and do something proactive, if you can.

New Hartford deserves the attention they are getting and will continue to get - as long as they refuse to listen to the majority of town residents who refuse to bow to the "king!"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Donovan, as Planning Board Chairman, has a perfect right as well as a responsibilty to comment on and to try to affect town policy. It is time to halt the constant name calling and conspiracy theories and to make things work. Reed will be gone soon. Hopefully our commentators will not use Reed bashing as many use Bush-- in place of issues and solutions.

Anonymous said...

No one, including Strikeslip, has done a full analysis of the cost/benefit ratio of suburban development. And, the statement that infrastrucure must be in place prior to development is sophmoric at best. It counters both the history of development in this country and sound fiscal planning. Infrastructuire and development should go hand in hand. The tremendous failure of urban renewal in our cities is proof of the folly of building publically financed infrastructure without developers involved.

Strikeslip said...

Mr. Donovan may have a responsibility to try to affect town policy, but he also has a responsibility to educate himself on the facts and be true to them. . . ALL of them.

As Greens & Beans points out above, the history of the Business Park "vision" has been revised...

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous -- you will not get an argument from me on the need for more study of the cost-benefit ratio. Much more study is needed.

The St. Louis area did such a study, and it concluded that development in well-to-do suburban areas accomplished little but hurt the central city. I had a link to it a few months back.

New Hartford Voter said...

Jerome Donovan should not be attempting to push his "Agenda" and the passing of the GEIS. It was not wanted in the Ralph Humphrey's Administration and too, Donald Backman has expressed his strong DISAPPROVAL of the GEIS.

Jerry, for God's sake stop grandstanding and at tonights meeting, vote down the GEIS, if you really care about what the public wants.

Dr. Shaheen does not want the GEIS as proposed nor do hundreds of other town residents affected by the GEIS.

When will you have the courage to do the right thing? Perhaps, never.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's much question that the central cities have been hurt throughout the country. But, could that have been avoided? A very complicated question. To my limited knowledge, areas of a more metro development have fared better. My only problem is that it is both late and unrealistic here. The very idea of an enlightened leadership that could sell and inspire real consolidation is dubious. Look at our political and civic leadership. It doesn't make for confidence. The latest real funny one is a Joe Griffo mailing entitled, Enough is Enough. Didn't he or any on his staff get the humor in that? Back to your original point. A place like New Hartford may actually have gained financilally from its level and type of growth even though the taxes have continued to rise. They may be unrelated in a certain sense. It may be a management and spending issue, for example. I don't know the answer. New Hartford officials and taxpayers should have been analyzing it right along. Or, perhaps that's something an EDGE or a Greater Utica Chamber should have been doing. It all gets back to the leadership point. There are also many ways enlightened Utica leadership could have pioneered true analysis and understanding. Oh, well, one can go on and on. Sorry

Anonymous said...

A planning board chair and member in any municipality is supposed to have and push an agenda. That is why they are appointed in the first place, to plan. It is then up to legislators to pass or not pass legislation implementing "plans." Mr. Donovan is simply carrying out the duties he was appointed to perform.

Larry Chang said...

Mr. Donovan is "pushing" his own Agenda not that of the town residents.

Let's get the facts straight!

We need someone like Elizabetta DeGeronimo who cares about Stormwater issues and how developers should be paying for their mistakes NOT town residents.

I am proud to say we have (finally) a town resident whose concerns lies with common sense.

Anonymous said...

The disconnect here is that a planning board is not a legislative body as Mr. Chang seems to imply. Planning Board members of any municipality of course take the welfare of that municipality as their primary responsibilty but they are selected for a number of reasons including working with and for development. Laws, rules, regulations,etc., that govern the power and discretions of such boards are set by legislatures. And, all planning and zoning board discretionary decisions are subject to legislative change and challange. Finally, one would hope that common sense is not all that rare.

Strikeslip said...

It looks like common sense is rare on the Planning Board given the Board's approval of a project in spite of Ms. DeGeronimo's common sense observation that deforestation now will cause storm water problems later. See today's post.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was against the New Hartford business park from the outset, the fact remains that it was created. It seems obvious now that it should be completed in the best fashion possible for New Hartford residents and the area.The checkerboarding arguement is a valid one. Look at Griffis. But, good, new, modern sites are essential to attract new industry in. The failure of the park thus far and Griffiss is that they take anything and even offer below market land and tax costs to entities already here.