Sunday, April 20, 2008

Clinton Street’s Split Personality

Renewal or rot?

Clinton Street in downtown Plattsburgh is at odds with itself.

Walk along and you’ll see a renovated storefront. A new façade, clean windows, fresh paint. Gentrification.

But a few steps away you’ll see the opposite: a trashed entrance with litter all over. Slumitis.

So which side is going to win?

Regarding renewal versus rot, both municipal and private entities are in a stupor, as if snorting too much model airplane glue. The city is wasting its time if it only fixes up a few spots and then forgets about them. It has to protect what it has rebuilt. New facades are useless when they’re trashed – windows are busted, fixed with duct tape and plywood - and dogshit creates a delightful obstacle course on the sidewalk.

The streets have to be maintained, cleaned on a regular basis. Whatever happened to violators – especially litterbugs and vandals - who had to do community service? I haven’t seen any sweeping up downtown in a long time.

There’s been talk about surveillance cameras downtown. I’m not fan of Big Brother but if such a system could deter the dogcrappers – the owners who don’t pick up after their mutts – then I could live with such a spy-eye system. Being observed sure beats scraping dogshit off your shoe.

And if the city pols can’t provide spy-eyes, then businesses should install their own. There’s one business with a surveillance camera in the Clinton Street area. It’s used to keep watch over its windows, prime targets for Saturday night berserkers.

Any business with such a system should be entitled to a reduction with its insurance premiums. And since tax dollars are available for many programs, including stupid ones, maybe grant money could be used to reduce the cost of surveillance camera installation by a business.

Whether it’s municipal or private cameras, photographic evidence can help make a case against a vandal. This would improve the overall situation -- assuming that enforcement follows. If no one goes after the violators, then why should they worry?

Steady renewal is Sisyphean if the same old problems are never addressed.

Wake up, Plattsburgh. You’ve been sleepwalking for too long.

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