Monday, February 23, 2009

Return Of The Urn?

There’s some interesting architecture in downtown Plattsburgh. All you have to do is look up.

But a piece of that architecture is missing. In the above image you can see in the upper right what appears to be an urn sculpture marking one corner of the building. There used to be a matching one on the opposite corner. Where did it go? Did it fall? Was it stolen? Or is it being repaired and then later returned?

Another mystery, like the disappearance of the metalwork faces, Comedy and Tragedy, which once decorated the façade of the Strand Theatre.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Do Editors Still Edit?

Or at least use a spellchecker program while performing various editorial tasks?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Brownfield Study - 1

No, this isn’t another post about “dog fouling” (to use the British term).

The topic of this post is the City of Plattsburgh Pre-Nomination Study Draft Report Brownfield Opportunity Area Program – December 2008. Obviously the title is a mouthful so I’m going to call it the Plattsburgh Brownfield Draft Report or the Draft Report or just PBDR for short.

Brownfield isn’t a person. It’s a term for an area contaminated with low levels of pollution left behind by previous commercial or industrial use. The PBDR was created with the help of an Albany-based group, Barton & Loguidice, P.C, which sought the input of the community.

So why is the PBDR so important? Simple. Money. The study identifies brownfields in a community for cleanup and re-use. Instead of sitting idle, former brownfield land can be returned to commercial and industrial use, creating jobs, adding more funds to the tax base. Or the land could be used to enhance the community with parks, trails and non-profit projects that draw more visitors.

Keeping in mind that the PBDR is a draft report – I’m assuming that it’s subject to change - I want to hit on a couple of key points pertaining to downtown Plattsburgh. But first, let’s get another abbreviation out of the way: PBOA. Plattsburgh Brownfield Opportunity Area. This is the 1,270 acre area designated by the Draft Report that includes 256 combined acres of 22 brownfield sites. The study concerned itself not only with brownfield land but any other issues holding back revitalization.

From what I understand Barton & Loguidice was unaware of the Strand renovation project and the proposed Lake City Arts Corridor until community members brought these items to their attention. As explained in a Press-Republican article dated 10/22/08, Barton & Loguidice wanted to learn what community members thought; B&L wasn’t hired to tell the community what to think. Community members expressed their concerns and ideas during workshops.

Thanks to community input the #1 Priority Project recommended by the PBDR is the establishment of the Lake City Arts Corridor, a project being promoted by the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts (NCCCA). As stated in Recommended Anchor Projects (page 37):

“There was a consensus among the discussion groups that a major attraction, a high profile ‘Destination’, is needed to draw interest in downtown. The Strand Theater and Arts Corridor may be the attraction that can quickly and inexpensively make a major impact and create a buzz downtown.”

A key point in the recommendations: “Acquisition of the Federal Building and associated land in addition to the Strand Theater for administrative and accessory space [for the NCCCA].”

Uh-oh. Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak wants the now empty Federal Building to be used for commercial purposes, putting the property back on the tax rolls. Previous to the PBDR another study, the Hyett Palma 2003 Economic Strategy Enhancement Strategy, was gung ho for the Arts Corridor.

Commerce versus Art: Which side will win?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tracking The Problem 3

The MRI went OK. Unlike the unit from years ago, this one was open on both ends. When I was a kid I suffered from some claustrophobia but I’ve gotten over most of it (but not all). This time my head was sticking out enough so that I can look out into the room (albeit with an upside down POV).

The exposure times with the new unit seemed shorter; I had to lie still on my back for only 4 or 5 minutes. In the “old days” the exposures were around half-an-hour, if I remember correctly.

The new unit was loud like the old one but didn’t sound the same, a different cacophony of noises during each exposure. During the second scan I thought an alarm had gone off and the machine was malfunctioning: it wasn’t the same banging sound I had heard before.

Didn’t notice any sensation in my fillings this time. Must be the new MRI has a magnetic field not as intense.

You can wear headphones during the scan to drown out some of the noise and also listen to a radio station. The tech attendant said one selection was radio station 99 FM. That station is known as The Buzz. During Xmas I would listen to it while in the mall to drown out the insufferable holiday music, earphones firmly in place. But I passed on it this time. I would feel buzzed enough after the MRI.

Today went to the doctor and discussed the results. Nothing new in that one of the discs in my back is still herniated. Other stuff going on; arthritis. Since the numbness doesn’t go away for any considerable time in my left leg, I might need surgery. Have to see a neurosurgeon to discuss that matter.

In the meantime I have to avoid prolonged periods of sitting and just limp along.

The Hit List – Continued

I’ll spare you the images. Actually, I’ll spare myself. I can only control my gag reflex for so long while dealing with this stuff.

Listed below are images taken today while just walking around. Each item has a number referring to the image on file. I keep all such shots filed in case anyone wants to challenge me that there’s no dogshit problem in Plattsburgh, NY.

9. Miller St. near RR crossing. On snowbank. Must have been dropped by a flying dog. 2/12/09 1:36 PM Img#4702

10. Miller St, near Press-Republican parking lot. 2/12/09 1:46 PM. Img#4716

11. Margaret St., near 226 parking lot. On snowbank. Another winged canine? 2/12/09 Img#4744

12. Margaret St, 256 entrance. 2/12/09 2:20 PM Img#4747

13. Margaret & Cornelia, NE corner. 2/12/09 2:55 PM Img#4750

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Hit List

Two days, eight messes. And there’s plenty more out there.

I don’t go looking for them. I just watch out for them.

1. Near 136 Margaret St. 2/9/09 6:29 PM

2. Second mess near 136 Margaret St. 2/9/09 6:28 PM.

3. Miller St. 2/9/09 2:47 PM

4. Margaret St., in front of Press-Republican offices. 2/10/09 2:35 PM

5. Margaret St., near bookstore. 2/10/09 2:47 PM

6. Near 159 Margaret St., sidewalk next to parking lot area. 2/10/09 4:24 PM

7. Margaret St., residential area. 2/10/09 4:28 PM

8. 67 Clinton Street area. 2/10/09 7:58 PM

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tracking The Problem 2

In a previous post I mentioned how my chronic back problem decided to really flare up, resulting in a late night visit to the ER.

The pain is under control but not the numbness. My left leg is numb, right down into my toes. My leg did feel better a few times to the point that I thought the problem was gone. But it keeps coming back. Sometimes I feel weakness in my ankle, causing it to give in and twist, almost resulting in another fall that would aggravate the situation all the more.

So tomorrow evening I’m scheduled for a MRI. I had one done years ago when my back trouble first flared up. Back then you had to go down to the Albany area to get it done. In those steam-engine days the patient was slid inside a narrow torpedo tube, his nose just a few inches away from the cylinder wall. You had to remain still while your body was enveloped by a powerful magnetic field, twenty minutes, half-an-hour, whatever. You could feel the fillings in your teeth resonating.

Talked with the MRI department today and apparently the newer machines are less claustrophobic in design. That’ll help but the exposure time is still long; have to lie still and not move as the machine slowly creates its images.

It’ll be worth it to find out what is causing the numbness or at least rule out other causes.

Polite Society

Today. Late afternoon. I’m walking down a Main Street sidewalk. The sun is still out. In plain daylight some guy lets his dog dump on the edge of the sidewalk. “Good dog,” he comments to his pooch. Then he kicks snow over the mess. Out of sight, out of mind.

I didn’t feel like confronting the guy at that moment. But later on things would change my attitude.

Tonight I’m on my way to the coffeehouse and there are large dog turds all over the sidewalk in front of my bank’s ATM. I notice two girls with big dogs go inside to their upstairs apartment right next to the canine carpet-bombing. After I photographically document the dogshit scattered all over, the girls come out. I politely ask about the crap on the sidewalk but they know nothing about it.

As I walk along, my anger grows. All these dog-owners and none of them are responsible or have seen anything. Apparently anyone who gets around on foot has to watch where he steps and just dodge the dogshit without complaint.

After I entered the coffeehouse, I recognize the dog owner and his dog from earlier in the day sitting at a table with some friends. I look, making sure all the details match, including the owner’s and his pet’s features and clothing. (Doggie sweater.)

I walk over to the table and politely ask the dog-owner if I had seen him earlier that day with this dog. He gets defensive. Why should I want to know? I explain that I saw someone let his dog shit on the sidewalk and then he tried to hide the evidence under some snow. One of his friends at the table says I have no right to bring up that subject while the dog-owner is with his friends.

Oh, my – I had committed a horrendous faux pas. Embarrassing someone too lazy to pick up after his dog is such a vile transgression of etiquette.

But leaving fresh dogshit on a sidewalk – why, that is the height of polite society.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Skat At The Kat: Day 4

Why am I the only media person talking about the dogshit problem in Plattsburgh?

This winter I noticed more sidewalks are shoveled free of snow, due in part to the city making the public aware through the media about the fines for unshoveled sidewalks. Why doesn’t the city start an awareness campaign explaining that dog-owners have to pick up after their pets or be fined? I’d like to post other things at this blog besides the umpteenth image of dogshit on a city sidewalk.

In the meantime, doesn’t the city employ people to clean up downtown? That’s one reason why citizens and businesses pay taxes, to maintain municipal property for the public good.

Beer Blast At City Hall

Repeat Ecchs Times

The observation has been made that there’s a lot of dogshit at this blog. Well, keep in mind that I only show a fraction of what I see around town.

For example, there was a spot near the Press-Republican newspaper offices that I photographed but didn’t post. Now I’m showing the spot because the problem is growing: there are more dog turds there.

Last night I was walking around and noticed someone walking her dog. She was in the same spot by the PR where a couple of canine cannelloni had been sitting for the last couple of days. Today I noticed additional nuggets in the same area (marked by blue x’s, image below). No, I don’t seek out this crap. I’m just wary of stepping in it.

I don’t know if the dog-owner I saw last night is responsible. Maybe an unleashed dog came by and dumped on its own, thinking it was OK because the spot was already dirtied.

Can’t blame the dog. It’s a dumb animal – like some dog-owners.

But let it happen once and it happens again. And again…

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Where’s The Sidewalk?

I’m walking down Robinson Terrace yesterday towards Margaret Street when I’m confronted by a scaled down version of Mount Everest blocking the sidewalk. Apparently someone with a snowplow (and apparently no brain to go with it) decided to create this convenient obstruction.

At the same time, the blocked school crossing on Margaret Street has been fixed. This shot shows how high the bank had been. Props to whoever handled the problem.

Monday, February 02, 2009

“Ecchs” At The Café

I think I’ll stop in at the Koffee Kat, grab a hot cup of coffee and a brownie.

On second thought…

(Gee, with all the red “ecchs” I post, could it possibly mean that Plattsburgh has a dogshit problem?)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

“Ecchs” At City Hall

Even the golden-domed hub of ethereal downtown Plattsburgh doesn’t escape the ubiquitous dog nuggets. Or should this be taken as political commentary by anarchist canines?

Shouldn’t dogs be licensed? Wouldn’t licensing fees pay for enforcement of basic sanitary codes, making sure that owners curb their four-legged fecal factories?

Practical Options For A Snowblocked Crosswalk

As you can see the crossing on Margaret Street for Oak Street Elementary School students is blocked by a mountain range of snow on the east side of the street. This forces the students to walk in the street until they can access the sidewalk via a plowed driveway.

So what is the best way to deal with this problem in pragmatic terms? Especially in the area of safety?

Option One: Shovel away the snow.

Option Two: Issue James Bond Jet Packs to each student so that they can fly up and over the snow pile.

Remember: Safety First!