Letters to the Editor for Aug. 10
Redesign I-890 off-ramp at SCCC or simply close it down
The Aug. 4 Gazette editorial on the danger of students crossing Washington Avenue from the new SCCC student apartments has correctly identified the problem, but missed badly in suggesting the solution.
The danger stems from the state’s decision years ago to convert that stretch of Washington Avenue into a highway off-ramp.
Construction of new student apartments across the street from the main SCCC campus means hundreds of students are potentially at risk crossing this dangerous highway. It’s time to fix that mistake, not stretch a Band-Aid across it.
The city planning commission deliberated at length about this hazard. Requiring a fence along Washington Avenue that extends the length of the property was the best solution that fell within our limited jurisdiction. However, the Gazette is correct in its assertion that students will not walk all the way to the corner to cross this busy street; it’s just human nature to take short-cuts.
The problem was also discussed extensively, with state Department of Transportation input, in the recent Schenectady Gateway Plaza planning meetings, for which I served on the steering committee. DOT dismissed any near-term solution that would involve altering the existing configuration, falling back on the old saws of congestion and cost.
Other solutions that were discussed, including a fence along the median and building a bridge or upper-floor walkway, were determined unfeasible for one reason or another (and a bridge would divert much-needed street traffic away from downtown). The option of directing pedestrian traffic to the corner of State Street with a fence and proper sidewalks and signage was seen as the only practical way to safely channel pedestrian traffic to a signaled intersection. It remains to be seen whether that will be effective.
Reconfiguring Washington Avenue as a human-scaled city street hasn’t been seriously considered, but it should be. A prominent downtown intersection adjacent to the most historic neighborhood in upstate New York is no place for a highway ramp. The city should immediately call on state DOT to remove this hazard. The state should identify funding for the redesign and reconstruction of that intersection as soon as possible. If no other solution can be found, close the intersection until one is developed.
Cassandras will say that the city can’t function without it, that traffic will be a nightmare, and commuters will be inconvenienced. Don’t believe them. Just close it, and drivers will find other ways to travel.
We’re at the beginning of the end of urban interstate highways. Across the country, plans are being made to remove mistakes that killed downtowns a half-century ago. Syracuse is seriously considering removing the I-81 viaduct that divides their downtown from the university and hospital complex. Even in Albany, discussions have begun about ripping out the 14 lanes of concrete that grace the Hudson River waterfront.
Fixing these mistakes will happen here and elsewhere — the only question is when.
The writer is a member of the city planning commission.
Writer wrong to write off an entire generation
Re Karen Church Brooks’ Aug. 6 letter [“Something is seriously wrong with teens today”]: I am utterly offended that someone would claim that the whole of the youth of today consists of lazy, violent, apathetic drug addicts. That blanket statement doesn’t serve to bridge any gap of understanding between the older generations and the younger, and only makes it seem more likely that the older generations don’t understand us and don’t care to.
From what I’ve seen as a teen today, my generation is one of the most caring and motivated. We see a future that is bleak economically, and think of ways to fix it. We see minorities struggling to become equal, and we reach out our hand in the form of petitions and protest. We try to preserve literature through our writing and our reading, try to bring art to the people of the world, calculate infinite theories of how to solve the problems of the world we are going to inherit. Morals and ethics haven’t gone anywhere.
If Ms. Brooks can’t seem to find them, she isn’t looking very hard. Our generation may seem hermetic, but the fact of the matter is that it is not going to be the end-game for morality and ethics. Teen-agers will grow up, their hormones will die down, and the angry teen can turn into the caring adult.
I beseech Ms. Brooks to not lose faith in the next generation simply because she thinks there is no good in us.
Bedford Rd. Speedway back after brief respite
In response to a neighbor’s Aug. 2 letter to the editor, the Schenectady Police Department sent one of their lightly marked cars onto Bedford Road. They hit the mother lode!
Repeatedly, they lay it wait. In no time at all, they would take off in pursuit of another reckless, self-centered motorist. Over the course of several days, the average speed on Bedford Road dropped markedly; the street became a much safer thoroughfare and, in the process, the quality of life for those who live on or near it improved.
If I ended my account here, all would be idyllic, I suppose. However, the police left after less than a week and Bedford Road has returned to its former position of providing an easy and decidedly quick short-cut from Brandywine to Eastern Avenue.
Unless the police department plans on camping out here permanently (who, may I ask, believes that will occur?) or unless the city posts each and every intersection with stop signs (who, may I ask, thinks that has a chance of happening?), then those who are unfortunate enough to live on Bedford Road shall have to bear the burden of dwelling on an unsafe street.
The taxi drivers and speed demons rule the day, once again, on Bedford Road.
High taxes, low property values: a vicious cycle
I received my 2012-2013 school tax bill in today’s [Aug. 1] mail, and it was slightly higher than last year’s tax bill.
I understand that it has something to do with falling property values in the city of Schenectady. The increase works out to be slightly over 3 percent, which is higher than the rate of inflation and, more importantly, greater than what most of our citizens’ personal income increased.
When I examined my records six years ago, school taxes were 36 percent less than the bill I received today. I have always voted in favor of the school budget, I just don’t remember voting for an average 6 percent tax increase each year.
We need to be keenly aware that as our school and property taxes continue to increase, our property values will continue to fall. We must do better. We have to compete with our surrounding communities by providing both a quality education and living environment in a more affordable manner.
Schenectady has so much to offer, we must not let spiraling taxes be our albatross.
‘Thyme’ is not on Middleburgh’s side
I’m heartened by the spirit shown by the village of Middleburgh, a place I have always loved [Aug. 5 Gazette]. But I am confounded by the goofiness of the Old Thyme baseball game.
Why? Why would you call it “old thyme”? “Thyme” is not a cute old-fashioned spelling of time!
As a historian and an archivist, I usually observe silently the way people try to gussy up their business names. “Old” was rarely spelled “olde” after America was settled.
And “time” was rarely, or never, spelled “tyme” in the last 300 or 400 years. But “thyme”? — never!
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