by Mark D, Bowers, Binghamton resident and currently a member of City of Binghamton’s Planning Commission
There has been a lot of discussion and comment recently on the reconstruction of the MetroCenter Plaza in downtown Binghamton. Unfortunately all of this discussion and comment appears a bit late as construction crews have already removed lighting, planters, benches and cut down trees. The administration, having no interest in a collaborative process has Let and Awarded this contract with no input from those groups willing and able to assist. Now the argument has been made that this is a City street (which it is) and this is a “street reconstruction project” so none of the support groups (including CAUD) who normally consult and help inform design decisions were needed.
However, one of the support groups left out of this discussion was the Traffic Board which certainly should have been consulted (and early in the process). Clearly this is well within their purview, their role being to ensure the safety of all users of the city’s street network. This includes signals, pavement markings and the analysis of intersection to name a few. This was not done and only now is their input being sought. The question now will be whether the City can fit this square peg into a round hole, and make it safe for the traveling public.
Now let’s be honest, this is just a bad idea. The City is spending $340,000 to create eight to ten parking spaces. Is this a good use of tax payer dollars? I think not. Worse yet who will benefit from this project? Only a select few will see any benefit. Great cities have great public spaces, and with the resurgence of downtown Binghamton we need better public places for those now being drawn to downtown. If $340,000 (or any portion of that) is going to be spent it should have been spent to make this a better public space that everyone who comes downtown could benefit from.
Another disturbing outcome of this project are comments made by some of the business folks who stand to gain from this ill advised investment. These comments were directed at the “types” of people who were using the plaza. Now this is clearly directed at folks who don’t look like them. People with less economic or social standing, people of a different skin tone etc., you get the point. Now I work downtown and walk around nearly every day and have seen firsthand who uses this space. I am in no way disturbed by what I see in the MetroCenter Plaza. Yes I have been panhandled, yes occasionally I have seen someone sleeping on one of the benches, but I’ve also seen employees from the MetroCenter businesses sitting and talking with each other, downtown workers eating their lunch which was purchased from a street vendor or other downtown food establishment. I’ve seen the space used for July Fest, First Night Binghamton, and a myriad of other community events. So what I see here is a cross-section of Binghamton. Binghamton is a very diverse place and we need to embrace that fact. We need to have better public spaces so that people can interact, get to know each other and create a better since of community even if they don’t look just like me. The arts community has helped us move in this direction with the First Friday Art Walks which draw thousands to downtown. Art is for all people, and everyone can appreciate and enjoy it and this is what we see in the crowds on First Friday’s. So let’s embrace our diversity and make it a strength rather than a weakness.
Now hubris is a noun and is defined as “arrogance caused by too great pride”. This entire project reeks of hubris. You can split hairs about who should have been informed and engaged in the development of this project, but the bottom line is it was done by a select few to benefit a select few. The administration has talked about a possible moratorium on development until the proposed parking study is done, so what was the rush to tear out the MetroCenter Plaza? The space as proposed is nothing more than a glorified parking lot. The people of Binghamton deserve better for their $340,000.
The Dept. of Public Art is celebrating the completion of their mural project at the Water St. Parking Ramp and looking forward to the next public art projects.
A follow up to the successful Third Thursday meeting will be held Tues Dec 2 7pm at Lost Dog Cafe. The brainstorming from the meeting yielded many ideas and new faces and energy. One major focus is the role of public art in blight remediation, using "movable murals." Another idea is to use trees, gardens and landscaping, including an arboretum of mixed species in the flood plain along the river.
More about the Virtual Reality Murals: “Punching In” commemorates the Bundy Time Recorder made by the Bundy Time Recording Co., the first to locate at 183-185 Water St, became IBM and led to the computer. “Punching In” on Level 2 C was painted last summer as part of a Mural Arts Training workshop.
The next business, the Automatic Musical Co., produced player pianos with robotics, another innovation necessary for virtual reality. The complicated robotics are captured in an air brushed mural designed by local artist Zach Wilson and painted by Bruce Greig, also on Level 2 C.
The Link family bought out that company and added organs to the line and Ed Link Jr. invented the flight simulator there and established a flight school on the property. The mural (on the basement level) depicting the tiny “blue box” or flight simulator shows the magnificent flight of a jet with the caption: “On this site Ed Link invented the flight simulator which transformed how pilots learn to fly.”
In the 1980’s, the American Dance Asylum mounted the Parking Ramp Dances which pioneered blending multi media, video feedback, and dance performances. The 4th floor stencil is of ADA choreographer and dancer Lois Welk.
COMPUTERS + ROBOTICS + SIMULATION + VIDEO FEEDBACK =VIRTUAL REALITY!!
The “Welcome to the Birthplace of Virtual Reality” mural greets people at the entrance of the Water St. Parking Ramp and shows a “Matrix” like virtual reality grid with computer code. In addition to the flight simulator mural, it was designed and painted by master mural artist Bruce Greig.
Each level of the ramp represents one of these innovative technologies: time clock, player piano, flight simulator, dancer, and is also a different color, helping people remember where they are parked.
The Dept of Public Art is a group of volunteers, artists and activists who promote public art and execute public art projects. DPA is sponsored by the Center for Gender, Art, and Culture and the Virtual Reality Mural Project was supported by a grant from the Chenango Arts Council and the Hoyt Foundation. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been recovering from this season's election-exhaustion-cold, a form of illness found only in the stuffy quarters of campaign offices nearing the dreaded daylight’s saving’s end. Here, volunteers and experts widdle down the wee hours of the night, gnawing on each passage of talking points, poll results and endless endless walking lists.
Mid term elections are famous for low turnout and all kinds of politicians take advantage of this fact. So Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts are important. Here are two heartening ones that remind anyone who cares about women and reproductive health that elections matter!
This one uses the song "Bad Reputation" and Joan Jett "approves of this message". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQT1jmHEApU&feature=youtu.be
The second one is to "You Don't Own Me" and also approved by Lesley Gore. http://www.upworthy.com/a-bevy-of-famous-ladies-sing-along-to-this-50-year-old-classic-wow-this-song-is-magic?g=2&c=ufb1
Check it out~!!
HEAR YEA, ALL
Call these Broome County legislators and tell them NOT to close the county mental health clinic.
One week to go. Finance committee meets, Thurs, Nov 6 at 5 pm. It all depends on you.
Dist 1 Colesville Stephen Flagg 238-0498
Dist 5 Tn Vestal Daniel J. Reynolds 757-2902
E & W Rt 26
Main St Vestal
Dist 6 Greg W Baldwin 239-0524
W Rt 26 Maine,
Dist 7 Matthew Pasquale 754-7189
E Rt 26 Maine,
Dist 8 Jason E Shaw 444-5712
Tn Union, Taft Ave
E Squires, Endwell,
Struble to Rt 17
Dist 9 Barker
Nanticoke, Triangle Ronald Keibel 692-4461
Dist 2 Kirkwood,
Sanford, E. Windsor Scott Baker 723-7905
W Rt 11Conklin,
E Rt 26, Vestal Kelly Wildoner 296-0609
Dist 10 Fenton,
E Dimmock Hill,
Upper Front St to
Rt 79/Rt 12 Junct Jerry Marinich 648-9903
Dist 12 Bing,
Tn Dickinson, Union,
Johnson City, Port
Dickinson Michael Sopchak, Jr 798-7764
In November, New York voters will be asked to pass judgment on a constitutional amendment that changes the way legislative and congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years based on the U.S. Census. The ballot proposition is wonky and complicated and therefore open to manipulation. And manipulated it was.
The state Board of Elections approved the language of the ballot proposition on Friday. It includes the word "independent'' to describe the 10-member commission that will be formed to redraw the district lines. The commission will be nothing of the sort.
Eight of its members will be appointed by the four leaders of the state Legislature -- the people who have a direct stake in preserving the status quo. The remaining two commission members will be chosen by the eight legislative appointees -- one degree of separation from the leaders.
The commission of 10 is almost guaranteed to deadlock. In the event it does, the proposed constitutional amendment puts redistricting in the hands of -- guess who -- the Legislature. And then we're right back where we started, with legislators drawing lines to stack the deck in favor of incumbents. So much for independence.
If it feels like you've seen this movie before, you have. Last November, voters were asked to approve casino gambling. It was described in ballot language larded with sweetness and light (or its equivalent in jobs, lower taxes and increased school aid). The gambling proposition passed with 57 percent of the vote.
We'll have more to say on the redistricting amendment as Election Day nears. The wording of the ballot proposition is not a good start.
10/28/2014 - 7:00pm
Bundy Museum of History and Art, Main St. Binghamton NY