Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Walk Down Protection Avenue On A Bright Spring Day

Item: When Donald Kasprzak was inaugurated as mayor, WCAX-TV reported that one of his goals was to spruce up downtown Plattsburgh.

Good luck, Mayor Kasprzak.

Red Variations In Glass

Stepping Over Versus Overstepping

The other day I was at the public library and noticed two representatives of the Press-Republican – a reporter and a photographer – with the director. The journalistic duo was working on a story. Maybe, I thought, the PR would address some real issues.

Yesterday the story appeared online and in print, complete with a photograph of the library director. The slant of the article is that usage is up at the library despite budget cuts by the city.

The library director was paraphrased to the effect that the Plattsburgh Public Library “remains one of the city's shining entities.” But as I’ve mentioned before, it appears the city doesn’t share her vision.

I like the director. She’s professional and pleasant. Considered as an entity, the library does do a good job. But there is more to an institution than its organization and services, a point not made in the puff piece masquerading as an article.

The reporter and the photographer apparently entered the library by the front entrance. Apparently a few items didn’t trip them up. Maybe they’re both color-blind, that bright orange just looks like another shade of gray to them.

Or maybe when it comes to news, the newspaper is just blind. For example, right outside the Press-Republican offices on Margaret Street is a mess paid for by taxpayer dollars. Isn’t it obvious that the construction company hired to renovate the streets and sidewalks cut corners when it created beds of muddy gunk where green grass used to be? And as I’ve asked before, what is that crap, what’s in it? And if you don't think the glop between the sidewalks and curbs isn’t that bad, trying stepping in it -- right up to your ankles.

The Press-Republican plays it safe, staying within comfortable boundaries, a sleepy town paper. Maybe such issues as repeatedly patched-up steps and other sloppy fixes are relatively minor, but they reflect on the larger picture. Anyway, who wants to live in a city where parts of it look like a third world country?

Press-Republican: skip the puff pieces. Time for some muck-raking.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What The Muck?!

Beware! Watch your step! Warmer weather means return of the quagmires lurking between the curb and the sidewalk in sections of downtown Plattsburgh that have been “renovated.”

Where did this crap come from? Is it “treated” sewage sludge? Considering its consistency (sticky, semi-liquidized feces), one wonders how environmentally friendly it really is. I would like to see an analysis of this muck’s composition. (Not that there’s ever been a case of someone passing off toxic waste as beneficial.)

At least a couple of businesses have realized there is a problem and have put down plywood sheets or carpet so that customers can safely make it to their destinations.

But not all places have such convenient bridges. So when the crap thaws out, don’t step in it. And if you do, I would advise carefully cleaning off your shoes.

Step One

Step One: Admit there is a problem. (OK, that's been done.)

Step Two: Permanently fix the problem.

With all this orange on the front entrance to the public library, all that is missing is a BIOHAZARD sign.

Uh-oh. One side is blocked off, but the other side is falling apart again. What's the solution? Block the entire entrance?

I'll say it again: Why can't the city spend money to replace the steps instead of patching them up? Or will it say, "Well, there's only so much money in the library budget and we'll have to lay off people if we spend the money to fix the entrance."

Bullshit. Look at the new building at the downtown parking lot. The city spent thousands of dollars to clean up that site, bringing it up to environmental standards, so that a new office complex could be built. Meanwhile, down by the lake, the city cleaned up the old railroad and dock areas, even compacting the ground so that a new hotel could be erected. It even went ahead and built a parking lot -- even though the hotel hasn't materialized.

Yes, there is a budget crisis. But if the city can find funds for to help along both the office complex and hotel projects, it can at least come up with the money - a fraction of what was spent on those other projects - to permanently fix the damn library entrance.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Matter Of Respect

Trinity Park. A pleasant spot in the heart of downtown Plattsburgh, NY. The snow has melted, thanks to the warmer weather. With the white blanket gone, the ground and certain objects strewn over it are now exposed to view.

Right in the center of the park is a memorial for veterans, a tribute to those American soldiers who died in battle, defending freedom for all Americans. But I don’t think those soldiers died to allow inconsiderate dog owners the freedom of letting their pets crap up the park.

Is this how we honor the sacrifice of brave soldiers? A memorial surrounded by lumps of dog shit?

The city should move the memorial to a spot where proper respect can be shown. In its place it can put up a more appropriate monument: a bronze statue of a squatting, defecating canine. The perfect symbol of downtown Plattsburgh.

Or, better yet, downtown can clean up its act.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Plattsy's Public Library Adventure

"La-la-la . . . Walking down the front steps, minding my own business."


"My leg! My f***ing leg is broken. Sue the city! Sue the city!!!"

There’s No Business Like Shoe Business (Same Shoes, Part II)

Here’s some other shots of a pair of shoes that I’m making famous.

Cottony clouds & shoes.

I think that bird on the fire escape is thinking about building a nest but can’t decide on the left or right shoe.

A couple of shots as the shoes dance at night.

Two Feet, Too Much

Sometimes a photograph fails to show scale, especially when there’s no reference to compare relative sizes. So here’s another shot of that public library step with a ruler.

As you can see, at its widest, this gouge is two feet across. So how will patching it up with more compound make any difference? Also, would a building inspector allow this to pass if this wasn’t municipal property?

In the past I’ve talked about The Big Picture. This image of a relatively minor problem reflects the big problem: not enough money has been spent on the city’s infrastructure. If buildings and streets can’t be properly maintained, then the city of Plattsburgh shouldn’t be expanding into other areas. It should fix what it already has instead of spending money on more pipe dream projects.

People judge a community by the upkeep of its infrastructure. What kind of message is the city sending to visitors when the library entrance looks like it belongs in downtown Baghdad?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pipe Dreams Versus Infrastructural Reality

Here’s an image of the parking lot for the new hotel down by the lake. As you can see it hasn’t been plowed clear of snow. Why is that? Look in the background. See the hotel? You don’t?

The city of Plattsburgh is facing a budget crisis. But what else would you expect when the city buys into a project that may never materialize or just turns out to be a white elephant (e.g., the Crete Center)?

So it goes ahead and builds a parking lot for a non-existent hotel. “Build it and they will come.” That works in the movies, but not in real life.

And while the area near the lake does look better – it was overdue for a clean-up – why would someone want to build a hotel-conference center right next to Fecal Bouquet, Inc. (AKA the city sewage treatment plant)?

Now consider this image: a crumbling step at the main entrance to the public library. For too many years these steps have been patched up, gouges filled in with a special compound that can’t hold up to the weather and the foot traffic. Every year the city slaps down some compound and it falls apart before winter is over. Obviously this entrance has to be rebuilt. But that’s infrastructure, not a pipe dream.

Maybe someone will come to town and convince the Burghers that money can be made if the city builds a UFO landing pad. Time passes, the library steps disintegrate into dust, but at least there’s the spanking new Plattsburgh Intergalactic Spaceport. Of course, no aliens have shown up yet. But just give it some time…