A blog dedicated to the local government, development, and future prospects of the town of Geddes and the Fairmount area.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Took the Christmas Holiday off, now I'm back


(long exposure on the Christmas tree)

Looking forward to 2006 and expanding coverage on geddesblog. Looking forward to getting more exposure and reader input as well. I could spout on for days on end, but it's much more fun and educational with feedback from readers. I would like especially to hear from local business owners big or small, as always my email is geddesblog [at] yahoo [dot] com.

What I am working on for next year:

Interviews with the newly elected councilors to the Geddes Town Board - including what their hopes and visions are for the future of our neighborhood.

More local business reviews and information on what services and products are available to you locally. (Remember to support your neighbors and shop local!)

2006 will provide many tax incentives for switching to renewable sources of energy and hybrid technology for cars on the state and federal level. I will be posting on how you will be able to save money while living a more "green" and sustainable lifestyle.

I will be putting more pressure on the local officials to update the Town of Geddes website, including posting the minutes and agendas of the town board meetings and planning board. This information is public record and should be distributed to the community in a timely manner. The local officials should be encouraging more participation at meetings and letting people know what is up for discussion would do just that. (The last, and only, available meeting agenda is from August 9th, 2005.)

Again any input on what else you would like to see here would be appreciated.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cross posted: Regionalism - a renewal?

York staters has yet another good comment regarding upstate regionalism:
As we attempt to solve Upstate New York’s problems, as long as we think of ourselves and our problems as primarily “American” we will be bound to a tiny number of options promoted by our centralized authorities. However, when we begin to free ourselves from what is an appropriate answer for America and identify ourselves with Upstate New York then we can begin to find new, uniquely Upstate answers.

In addition to an increased ability to flexibly respond to local problems, a regional identity would help to heal many of the psychic wounds that we possess in modern America. We are a rootless people, rarely possessing a sense of “place;” many of us even lack a spot that we can call “home.” How many of our people have no sense of where they are and who they are? How many just want to get away, but are never sure where they want to get to? While a strong regional identity would not solve all of our problems in and of itself, it would provide a solid foundation for communities to grow. As much as it is a physical place, a community is also a state of mind, a shared mental orientation.

[snip]

I feel that there is some hope for regional identities in this age of growing centralization. The last time I drove into Vermont, flying on the first house I passed over the border was the flag of the Green Mountain Boys and the symbol of the rapidly growing Vermont Independence Movement. When I drive through Johnson City, I occasionally spot a JC Wildcat flag. Perhaps someday, here in Upstate New York, locals we see no problem in flying the flags of their town, state and nation as equals in their hearts and minds.
There has been a lack of "regional pride" in the upstate region, as the sons and daughters of those stranded in the "rust belt" with lost manufacturing jobs, and an increasing tax burden as revenues from industry declined. This generation saw parents laid off, a lack of opportunity to follow in their parents footsteps, and difficulty finding work outside of the service industry. Regionalism died. Dispondence and apathy prevailed. There are still a whole group of people that live outside the Syracuse area, that take the time to post negative comments on the region and our local government on the Syracuse.com forums. Think about it, hating upstate so much that they take precious time out of their day, just to make snide remarks and discourage people from living in upstate. In a way, I don't blame them. There has been a severe lack of leadership from local politicians over the past 25 years. There was no foresight as the factories began to close, little investment in boosting technology company development that would help keep higher paying jobs in the area. Local government leadership continues to be questionable, and development while progressing, could be better.

Why do I see a renewal of "regionalism" then? Why am I living with more hope and optimism for upstate NY?

The generation that I grew up in was born into a Syracuse that had already undergone most of the transition from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. I can only barely remember a downtown shopping district with Sibley's and Chappell's. I still had wanderlust in my blood and spent three wonderful years in New York City working and exposing myself to the world outside of upstate NY. I am among a growing group of professionals that have returned to the area, yes, under our own volition. I am also reaching an age where I am beginning to realize the potential as adult citizens, to shape the world around us. Less in the way of complaining, more in the way of discussion that will lead to action - I seem to be finding a growing niche of people that feel the same way, who are proud to live in upstate, who want to be here and make life better for ourselves and our communities.

Now all we need is NYCO to photoshop up a flag for us "regionalists".

Thursday, December 15, 2005

On neighbors... (Round 3)

Since bringing up the topic of neighbors last week, there has been much discussion in the local blogosphere (can't they come up with a better word than that?). If you are just coming in to the discussion, you can:

Start HERE [sound of can of worms opening]

Next HERE [NYCO's blog]

Then go HERE [Racing in the street blog]

Sean Kirst from the Post weighs in HERE

And finally HERE [Round 2 at NYCO's blog]

First of all a touch of background: (the short version) I grew up in the burbs, went to school, moved to NYC (upper manhattan ethnic neighborhood) and then moved back into the town of Geddes.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the discussion that my initial comments brought on. I still stand by the thought that there is more than ample room for improvement in being neighborly to those in our community.

Yes in 2005, we're more bitter and crabby when we get home from the daily sludge, and yes, we seem to have "run out of time" to do anything worth while lately, without it feeling like another chore. We deal with all of those "other" bad drivers on the street and highway - too fast, too slow, too clueless... We deal with an entire generation or two of Americans that feel that they are entitled to whatever they want at that very moment - like a perverse version of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I want the works
I want the whole works
Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes
And now
Don't care how
I want it now
Don't care how
I want it now
But I digress.

NYCO discussed why people left the cities in droves in the 50's and 60's, and it is for the same reason that we left NYC in the 2000's. The schools are better, you want your own yard (even though the parks are beautiful), you want a little vegetable garden, and a space to call your own without annoying neighbors above and below you.

I still want those things, and I don't fault anyone else for wanting them as well.

I also agree that people didn't move to the burbs because they were excited to drive more. What disgusts me is not the suburbs of the 50's and 60's, but the single story, flat-roofed, strip mall laden outgrowths of the 80's and 90's. Our "old-growth" suburbs are in a much better position to weather higher energy costs, and maintain sustainability going forward into the future. Mixed-use redevelopment of the Geddes area and increased walkability is what I am working towards.

I don't want to even try to tackle the issue of the exurbs. In a way, I feel like saying - go ahead and take your gamble on a place 20-30 miles away from where you work, in a 3500 sq. ft. home, with a $300,000 interest only mortgage. I am comfortable in my decision to live where I live, and don't feel I need to tell others how to live their lives, to make me feel like I have made the right decision. There are a huge list of benefits to living in each type of area (city, suburb and exurb), and an equivalent number of negatives as well. No situation is ideal.

I lean towards but would not consider myself a "new urbanist". I don't want to live in downtown Syracuse. If I did, we'd have a incredible loft that we were fixing up in an old factory, and this blog would be all about how Syracuse needs to attract a grocery store and develop businesses that operate outside 9-5 hours, and how the city and county should combine into a more efficient local government and school system. People need to keep fighting for those things, and I'll leave it up to Sean Kirst, and Phil (Racing in the Street) to do that.

My focus is going to be on how we can improve our local situation in Geddes and the surrounding areas.

NYCO wrote:
My point is (and this is not directed at Balogh or Phil), there is often a dangerous amount of idealization of human desires going on when it comes to the suburbia debate. I think there is an honest desire to re-think and adjust the way we are living, and I feel pretty much on board with that.
I agree. I don't want to live on a commune either, with everyone "loving each other in perfect harmony". I don't want to force you to live there either.

I don't want you to give up your car, because I think that it is bad-
I want to give you more public transportation options in case you do want to leave the car home on a Friday night and go out. Or the ability to take a bus to work in the morning, and have a bus to take you home at night after 6 p.m.

I don't want you to give up going to the monstrosity of a mall to shop -
I just want you to have to option to shop locally for goods and services and support your hard working neighbors.

I don't want you to live in my back yard (and "up my nose") -
Because I want to grow a garden and share a few veggies with you (and your tent gets in the way of the good sun.)

I don't want kids to stop eternally playing videogames and going on playdates in Manlius and organized homogenized soccer tournaments in Rochester. (OK maybe I do)
But I am not going to tell you how to raise your kids. I just want to have safe streets and schools, and the opportunity for kids to ride their bike on the street without fear of death. And a few woods to explore and hike through.

More NYCO:
I also think that urban planners would have a much easier time if they concentrated on old growth burbs than on only tackling head-on the huge problems in the cities. The old-growth burbs are the "middle" of the ring system - they border the cities, the population is neither affluent nor destitute, and there are lots of opportunities to make things easier for older residents when you actually HAVE older residents to serve. (I see older people using the new sidewalks on Onondaga Rd. all the time.) So much about urban renewal seems based upon luring young people in, rather than taking care of the people who already live there.
AMEN! Geddes has many opportunities to better itself, not only for the sake of the "young" people we want to attract, but for the convenience of the elderly as well. A percentage of the population that is expected to grow intensely as baby-boomers come of age. Again with no common link in the community, school districts become what the world revolves around, neglecting a large portion of our local population.

Above I mentioned what I don't want people to have to do. Here is what I'd like them to do.

Become more involved in local government
Approx 10 people and myself attended the last town council meeting in Geddes. This is where decisions are made that affect your daily life. Everyone is so concerned about "neo-cons" and "liberals", and will spend hours and days engrossed in that, but will not take the 1 hour a month to attend the local town hall meetings and discuss issues that directly affect the community.

Wonder where your food comes from, and your merchandise that you are buying.
If you think about it, does it really make sense to buy an apple from Washington State, in the fall, when it is apple season in NY? Or milk shipped in from other states, despite the abudance of local dairy farms? All I ask is that you wonder where that new lamp comes from that your buying for Aunt Mabel, or the pocket knife for Uncle John.

And finally [/soapbox] have PATIENCE.
Bite your tongue when grampa cuts you off, or the new teller is ringing up items at a snails pace, or you've waited through 2 changes of the light. They're people just like you and me. They're our neighbors.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Where clouds are made

When I have kids of an impressionable age, I will take them down to Milton Ave on a cold day like today, and tell them that this is where clouds are made...


Solvay Paperboard steam exhaust

From the company website:
Solvay Paperboard was literally raised from the ashes. The company was founded in 1994 on the former site of an abandoned chemical plant that produced soda ash. This “brownfield” site is located in the Village of Solvay, a suburb of Syracuse, New York. This site was deemed ideal for several reasons - it offered low cost hydroelectric power, an existing cogeneration facility was located across the street, and it was strategically located in a major northeastern metropolitan area ensuring a steady source of recycled fiber.
From Siemens:

Teamwork and technology have allowed the plant to produce 320-plus tons of paper per day, using a forest worth of bales made from old corrugated containers bought from companies and communities around neighboring cities. Working closely with its contractors, Solvay began making paper only 14 months after construction began.

Compared to virgin wood facilities, a recycling operation uses far fewer chemicals and so it lacks most of the smells and environmental hazards normally associated with paper production. “It is conservation and environmental sensitivity at its finest. We’re harvesting the urban forest,” says John Telesca, Project Manager for the site and a Vice President for Southern Container Corp. Telesca says that from the outset his company’s primary concern has been for the community and the environment.

From AMEC:
The project ultimately helped our client exceed their production and environmental goals. As a result, Solvay Paperboard’s newly expanded mill in Syracuse, New York is one of the industry’s most efficient consumers of water in North America.”

[snip]

Since start-up, the paper machine was already operating above design production levels at high efficiency with very low off-specification production. AMEC introduced an innovative water recycling facility that allows the effluent from Solvay’s two other machines to be used as process water for the new one. As a result, Solvay is able to reduce its effluent from the overall facility by 400,000 gallons per day. That is 400,000 gallons per day less than when only two paper machines were operating – quite an achievement.
(emphasis mine)

Solvay Paperboard is a company that our community can be proud of. I would like to hear more about the companies environmental practices. Anyone have any connections to the company? Email me at geddesblog [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Monday, December 12, 2005

What is a kilowatt hour in real life terms?

Cross posted from baloghblog:

I thought that some of the residents of the west side and readers of the geddesblog would appreciate this post. As winter is upon us, and we begin to dread the Nimo bill, I mean NatGrid bill. Many of us are looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption (and save a few bucks too!)

Did you ever wonder what that kWh stood for on your bill, or what 1 kwh was the equivalent of? Here is a primer for you: (more ideas HERE and HERE)

Unplugged living has a good post about what that little "kWh" from your energy bill is worth in real terms:
One of the most important steps in making the move to renewable energy resources or even just saving yourself some money by cutting back is to figure out what you’re using now. Once you know that, you’ll know what you can do without and the more you can do without, the less you’ll have to generate on your own (and the less you’ll have to spend to buy the gear).
I have been taking stock of what we have been spending the most money on energy wise in our house lately. Especially after I found out that things running on "stand-by" don't really use that much energy.

Here are some more real-life kilowatt hour examples from unplugged living (from sustainable energy blog):
A kWh of electricity means:
  • 1200 electric shaves (> 3 years)
  • Slice 100 breads
  • Drying your hair 15 times
  • 4 TV evenings
  • Listening to 15 CD's
  • Using a (small) refrigerator for 24 hours
  • 20 microwave meals
  • Drill 250 holes
  • 4 evenings of light with 60 W incandescent lamps
  • 20 evening of light with 11 W compact fluorescent light
Aside: I am hoping that "Santa" leaves me a Kill-a-Watt Meter under the tree. Then I can get to the bottom of what uses the most energy in the house.

Related to energy efficiency, here is a great tool that I found that National Grid, our local energy utility provides to its customers online:


electricity use (click for enlargement) Posted by Picasa

It is a historical view of my electricity use over the last year. A good way to put it all in perspective. There is also a chart view available and the same chart and graph is available for natural gas use. The only complaint I have is that the current month is on the left hand side of the graph running back into your history of usage towards the right side. (Chronological graphs usually run the opposite direction.)

Two things you can quickly surmise from my graph: 1. That central AC unit uses a lot of power in the summer months* (but we already knew that), 2. We are doing a good job at reducing our energy use - November down 32% compared with Nov '04, and December '05 down 26% from the same month last year.

This tool will help positively reinforce the changes that we have been making to our home and in our lifestyles.

*I am of the mind that there are pleasures in life that should be taken advantage of while they are around. If, G-d forbid, peak oil comes quickly, I will have not regretted one day of central AC use in the summer. There will be plenty of sweltering summers to sweat through then... Besides, what this graph doesn't tell you is that all of our energy is from renewable sources - wind and small hydro.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ask Jerry at Syracuse.com

Jerry Rosen from Neighbors West:
Post-Standard

There won't be a 99 Restaurant built at West Genesee Street and Vanida Drive in Camillus.

A covered pile of something sits at the southeast corner of Armstrong Road and State Fair Boulevard.

The old Agway garden store is down at West Genesee Street and Hinsdale Road in Camillus. And the abandoned building at Terry and Fay roads is looking sadder.

I'll tell you about all of those issues in this edition of "Ask Jerry."

And if anyone out there has a tough question about what's going on in the western suburbs nothing about proving there's life on Mars or how to factor a quadratic equation see if you can stump me.

Check out his article (CLICK HERE FOR LINK) for the latest news in what is next for development in the Camillus/Geddes area.

I'd love to hear some development info on the two aforementioned "development opportunities" mentioned HERE or HERE.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Neighbors: A thought.

Just a quick thought today on neighbors.

How many of your neighbors do you know? How often do you speak to them? Do you get along with them? Could you count on them in an emergency? Do the kids in your neighborhood play with each other?

Why do I ask?

I believe that the neighborhood is one of the building blocks of America that has slipped away from us, without us even realizing it. I think that it is why the internet, IM, and blogs are so popular. People are searching for that sense of community that is lacking in our lives. We have built our lives around the comfort and convenience of the automobile, and sacrificed walkable streets, daily interaction with our neighbors, and a sense of community pride. Communities now largely revolve around the local school district, as this is generally one of the only type of events that regularly gets more than 50 members of a neighborhood together for a common purpose. (Yes, for some there is the weekly religious service, but even the sense of local residents coming together has been diluted by the automobile which allows us to travel outside of our immediate area for the service.) Will future development in this area perpetuate this trend? Will new neighborhood development come with 2 acre lots, no sidewalks, and be miles from the nearest conviences? Will we continue to try to build in all of the conveniences of the outside world into our home - movie theatres? home offices? work out rooms? craft and sewing rooms?

Unfortunately... I believe that it will.

A Skidmore Prof has similar thoughts (Post-Star):
For all of the positive attributes that owners of these new, large homes love, though, the trend is troubling for some sociologists, who say it only contributes to environmental damage and further severs ties to the community.

The term "conspicuous consumption" was coined about a century ago by the American sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen to describe how important it was for the wealthy to be in fashion, said Rik Scarce, assistant professor of sociology at Skidmore College.

"One of the amazing things that has happened with the growth of the American middle class is that we all now want to consume conspicuously to show how large we live," Scarce said.

"It translates into the gigantic vehicles that we drive, the enormous homes that we construct for ourselves, our grossly oversized bodies," he said. "We're a society that seems like we're prepared to explode."

Scarce said material consumption can lead to a void in social life.

"A century ago, home entertainment was having a bunch of people over and having someone playing the piano and singing," he said. "Now, it's watching the DVD player, closed off from the rest of the world, and, quite commonly, closed off in our individual rooms."

Scarce also pointed to the environmental burden of spiraling lumber, construction materials, electricity, gas and oil consumption.

"The housing boom is a tragedy for the environment," he said.
How do we turn against the tide? What can you do? Go introduce (or re-introduce yourself) to your neighbor. Maybe you could help him or her out with a little shovelling this winter. Or, if it's your thing, bake a nice tray of Christmas cookies and bring over a plate. Bury the hatchet on old disputes. Stop by your elderly neighbor's home and see if he or she needs anything when you are going out in harsh winter conditions to the store. Welcome new homeowners in a way that you would like to be welcomed.

Love thy neighbor? Let's at least start with a "hello". Maybe we can then start to improve our answers to the questions above.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Local stores visited this weekend. A review.

I posted a sort of challenge to Geddes and Fairmount residents to go to 3 local stores this weekend. My wife and I headed out on Saturday and did just that. Here is a short review of our experience.

#1. The Doust Gallery
This tiny shop on the top of Cogswell Ave in Solvay is packed with great gift items for Christmas. Chock full of ornaments, decorations, Irish gifts, wreaths, and Christmas cards. The owner was working and was very nice and helpful. She told us that she moved to Solvay about 3 years ago, after having her business in the Eckert Plaza in Fairmount for 30+ years. The prices were very reasonable, and we ended up purchasing a present for my mother there, and an ornament for our tree. I think that my wife will be heading back next weekend, having had her eye on a present for our friends and her mother. I highly recommend a stop there next weekend, if you weren't able to make it out there this week.
#2. Eva's European Sweets
I have to admit, we were hungry, so we skipped the bookstore and went straight to lunch at Eva's. They were just unpacking the Christmas decorations, and opening up their doors for the day. We came at the right time, because soon the place was filling up with patrons, coming in out of the cold. We had great service, and the food was prepared quickly. My wife had the ham, cheese and chopped bacon sandwich with a pickle. I opted for the goulash and dumplings, with sauerkraut. Both were delicious. The goulash, authentic and hearty on a cold winter day. Although full, we had to purchase dessert to go, and we both picked a creamy looking chocolate swirled cheesecake - that was delicious later on. It was great to see a true family business with mother in the kitchen and daughter unpacking the ornaments. The one wall filled with newspaper reports and reviews, and a few awards as well. It was nice to go back to Eva's after an extended absence. I have the feeling well be back again soon. (This time for potato pancakes and pierogies!)
#3. The Book Cellar
We didn't end up making any purchases at the book cellar, not for a lack of selection, though. The shelves were stocked in 2 rooms filled with used books of all genres and authors. (We had already splurged on an ornament for ourselves, so we had to keep shopping for others.) There was a huge section of romance novels, so if that is your thing, look no further. The owner was talking to a customer when we came in, so I didn't get the chance to talk to her and get any background on the business. The store is set in an old restaurant in the first floor of what used to be (is?) a old hotel. All of the old fixtures, marble counter tops, even an old cash register were there. Walking into the back room, you could almost imagine the short order cooks serving up their fare thru the window, to the waitress and on to your table. The rooms were magnificent, and we could picture a beautiful coffee shop/reading room supplementing the books there. Stop here before or after the holidays to pick up a used book to snuggle in with in front of the fire.
Anyone else go to these or any other local business worth mentioning? Just click on comments and let us know about your local shopping experience.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Alternative Energy Production for Geddes

What does the public at large think of supplementing the local power grid with sources of alternative energy?

(hill above North Terry Rd. with added windmill tower)


Would this view above West Genesee St. bother you or encourage you? To me it looks like a vision of the future. To others, gaudy? Out of place?

Right now there are a large tower and water reservoir on the top of the hill. There is ample room for a solar panel array and/or a windmill generator, possibly enough to provide a fair portion (1/4? 1/2?) of our power needs in Geddes. This of course would be based on the initial investment made. Projects of this type are scalable, meaning that additional investments could expand the amount energy produced. NYS currently provides generous rebates to help encourage renewable energy production making it more and more competetive with traditional sources of energy.


The local production of renewable energy, would greatly improve the sustainability of the Town of Geddes, lead to lower energy rates for businesses and residents, and would transform Geddes into the model of a sustainable community in Central NY.

Thoughts?

Comment from Neighbors West Forum about buying local

By ResSledder:
Yes, you are right, Geddes and Solvay have some fine local businesses. Keep the profits local. What about Camillus Cutlery as a gift source? You can buy from them over the phone and pick up the merchandise by check or credit at the plant in Camillus. Knives, painters tools, etc., make fine gifts. Keep the message going about keeping money in CNY and spending at local concerns, which do not send their profits out of state.
Another good idea. CLICK HERE for the Camillus Cutlery website.

Blog Update/Idea


Well since an initial blast of people, the daily traffic has slowed to the site. Still, a healthy number of people are returning to geddesblog to check back in. In order for this endeavor to be sucessful we need local residents to come take a look. If you are so inclined, email your friends or relatives in the area, and let them know about us.

I will be writing letters to our local politicians, and emailing our state and federal reps to let them know what we are working on here. I am hoping to get some feedback that can be posted on the blog. But, I don't think that we can rely on politicians to promote this blog... So we need to gain exposure in other ways. Any thoughts on how to do that? (By the way our budget is $0.00).

I have only come up with one good idea so far, let me know what you think. [just press the link that says "0 comments" to make a comment. You don't need to sign in.]

I was thinking of speaking to the owners of local businesses, and proposing highlighting a different business each week. I would introduce the owner of the business, give a brief history of how it was started, and what the business' goals for the future are. For giving that exposure, they would offer a meager discount to patrons living in geddes/fairmount (or all patrons who mention the blog), say 5% up to 8.25% for the week. The next week the process would start over. Initially I would canvas the area, and find willing participants, but if it were a success, the businesses could just email geddesblog to get on the list. This accomplishes 3 things:
  1. geddesblog can gain exposure to the public (who is always looking for a bargain), and help increase public awareness of local issues and increase community participation in government.
  2. local businesses gain exposure and increased traffic, for a meager discount to local residents.
  3. regular readers of the blog can get discounts by shopping locally and supporting local businesses.
Thoughts? Comments? Anyone out there a small local business owner?

In the meantime, email your friends/family/neighbors and have them check us out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Development opportunity #2



Don't even get me started about what used to occupy this space prior to the Pep Boys Automotive that was in and out of their faster than one of their oil changes. I loved the old Genesee Theater, and still can remember the sticky feeling on my shoes to this day. China Pavillion was in the rear of the theater, and dinner and a movie were always a good date. (Hey I was in high school, chinese food and a cheapie movie were a big deal back in those days!) Yeah it was cold in the winter, and the movies were a few weeks past their prime, but the place had character. All you have to do is look to the newly renovated Palace Theatre in Eastwood to see what the Genesee could have become too.

Never-the-less, the Genesee closed it's doors on Sept 16th, 1996. Pep Boys did the same 3 years later in 1999. Can you believe this building has sat here for 6 years without a tenant? Pep Boys should be sued, and as a repayment for the community, have to dig up every brick and sticky floor tile from the landfill and rebuild that theater. (on second thought, maybe someone should just redevelop that area - heh heh)

What would be the best re-use for this building or section of Westvale plaza? Any ideas? I personally believe that there are plenty of car repair shops in Geddes and with 2 other car parts stores up the street, we have our fill of those as well. We need someone to think big on this one and come up with an attractive solution to this problem. I can't take another 6 years of staring at this awful empty big box reminder of the theater that I used to love.

Thoughts?

Next Town Meeting for Geddes - 12/13



According to the Town Supervisor, Bob Czaplicki:
The Town Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 PM from October through April and 6 PM from May through September. Also the Planning Board meets the last Wednesday of the month at 7 PM and the ZBA meets the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7 PM.
This would mean that the next town council meeting is on December 13th at 7:00 pm. I will try to get an agenda for this meeting if possible, and post it on the blog.

The planning board will meet on 12/28 at 7:00 pm.

Does anyone reading this blog attend the town council meetings? I am trying to get a sense for what the meetings are like, structure, discussion, votes, etc. I will try to attend as many meetings as possible, and give my $0.02 on it, but would like to hear other's opinions as well.

Check out York Staters - good post

They have a good post up on what does it mean to be an "Upstate New Yorker".
What does it mean to be an Upstate New Yorker (or a “York Stater”)? This is a bit trickier of a question than it appears at first glance. Some people (like those in St. Lawrence or Hamilton Counties) are quite obviously York Staters, but what about people who identify themselves as “Western New Yorkers” or “Central New Yorkers;” even more problematic, what about folks in the Hudson Valley, an area rapidly becoming a peripheral part of the New York Greater Metropolitan Area?
A good discussion follows. CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 01, 2005

3 local businesses to check out this holiday shopping weekend

I picked 3 of the many small businesses in Geddes, out of the many to choose from, this week from the Solvay side of town. Next week I'll post a few from the West Genesee Corridor.

They are 3 owner operated businesses, that I propose to venture into this weekend or upcoming week.

#1: The Book Cellar
1701 Milton Ave

I love independent bookstores, and the selection that they carry. I like the service and the suggestions, and even the smell of a good bookstore. I am not sure of the exact number of times that I have driven by this corner while heading somewhere else, but I am sure that it was quite a few. Books make a great holiday gift for kids and adults. Sure the plastic toy, or new sweater is a big hit under the tree, but the gift of a book lasts much longer and can be handed down or lent to a family member or friend. Give a book to your friends with children to relax to, after the hustle and bustle of the holiday is over with. Or, just buy yourself that book you've been checking out on Amazon, but buy it from this local store owner and support your neighbor. UPDATE: Just stopped in to the book cellar. It is slightly different then I supposed, when I peered in the window the other morning. It is a used book store, that has plenty (I mean plenty) of used books in paperback form. And, if you are into romance novels, this is the place for you! Not so much a "gift" kind of store, but a wide range of books and a large selection of novels to peruse through. Visit the store just for a glance at the old marble countertops, and behind the scenes look at a 1900's hotel restaurant.



#2: The Doust Gallery
1007 Cogswell Avenue (at Trump St.)

Again another place I pass by, this time 5 days a week. Open on weekends, this place is a great place to buy your gifts. Stop in and find a gift for that person who likes to decorate or find something for your own house. (I have to admit, this is my wife's territory.) Find something unique for the one that you love at the Doust Gallery.




#3. Eva's European Sweets - Polish Restaurant
1305 Milton Avenue

Finish off your shopping with a trip to Eva's. Here you'll find Polish specialties, deserts, and for the more modest eater there is traditional American fare like sandwiches, and burgers. If you're like me, you'll go for the kielbasa and pierogies. Others go for the cabbage rolls. Everyone ends up with desert! Stop by for a snack or a meal. Or if you're in a rush, grab a homemade desert to go. Here is a LINK TO THEIR MENU. (closed Sundays)

Support your local businesses this holiday season. Stop in to these stores and see what they have to offer. Print this page out by clicking HERE and then print on your web browser. Here is a MAP for you as well.

When you come back from shopping, or eating at Eva's, drop back in to geddesblog and let us know how your experience was.

One community, many pieces

The Utica Observer-Dispatch has published a wide-ranging interview with influential pollster John Zogby about upstate New York's bleary vision and its strengths. Some of the topics he brings up have to do a lot with how we think about the shared spaces of the Solvay-Geddes and Fairmount areas. Zogby says:

We really have an outmoded system of government. If you look closely at the maps of Upstate New York or really the Northeast you can see the horse and buggy lines, where they were drawn 150 to 200 years ago. I love to tell this story: My mom — I grew up in East, way East Utica, near Proctor Park — from her driveway to Route 5, to the sign that says 'Welcome to Little Falls', is 18 miles on the nose. You've just passed through six school districts and seven police departments in 18 miles. How do you create a vision?


The Solvay, Geddes and Fairmount areas seem like a historical, economic and demographic unit, and writing and thinking about them in tandem seems natural. However, just within this small area, we're dealing with at least three municipal governments -- four, if you wander too far up Onondaga Road! We take little notice of these borders as we cross over them multiple times daily to work, shop and play, but although they're invisible, they're there and they affect all development decisions that are made. How can area residents, local businesses and developers best work with these governments and each other to create an overall vision for Syracuse's mature western suburbs?

Sustainable community defined



There has been increasing talk, and "buzz" about building sustainable communities, and how DestinyUSA will be "working towards creating a sustainable future."

What does sustainability mean actually? Here is a good definition for those unfamiliar with the term, from the Office of Environment Assistance in Minnesota:

A sustainable community can persist over generations, enjoying a healthy environment, prosperous economy and vibrant civic life. It does not undermine its social or physical systems of support. Rather, it develops in harmony with the ecological patterns it thrives in.

Sustainable development is an ambitious process in which a community develops attitudes and ongoing actions that strengthen its natural environment, economy and social well-being. Benefits include more livable communities, lower costs and an environment safe for future generations.

A growing number of communities across America have begun this process, gathering a number of local initiatives under the umbrella of sustainability. They are bringing preventive, integrative strategies to bear on crime, health, jobs, land use and community values.

Sustainable development means development that maintains or enhances economic opportunity and community well-being while protecting and restoring the natural environment upon which people and economies depend. Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

(emphasis mine)

Let's leave large scale "sustainability" to the dream that is DestinyUSA. For those living in the Fairmount/Geddes area, we need to take care of ourselves and our community first. We need to dream big, but start small. Most of all we need a vision of progress for Geddes that doesn't involve more strip malls and "big box" stores. We need local business, local jobs for our residents, and a more enviromentally secure vision of the future. It is time for people to step up, and shape their community in the image that they would like to see it.

This blog is an attempt to do just that.



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