"Down at the local job site, a couple construction workers sat down to eat lunch.
Opening his lunchpail, one says, 'Damnit, peanut butter sandwiches again. I'm sick of 'em.'
'Why don't you ask your wife to make you something else?' the other replied.
'Whaddya mean wife? I'm not married. I make my own lunches.'
The heavy machinery is in place and ground is breaking in Downtown Elmira to prepare for the new $14 million, 75,000 square foot facility to be built on Water St. as part of the city's Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI ). A lot of conversation has taken place about the future and path for Downtown Elmira, and I've watched it with a good deal of interest not only for the purposes of this site, but also personal interest as well.
Much of that conversation is pretty positive, which is a good thing. We need some good news around here for a change. But there's two sides to every coin.
There's a new crop of people who see the potential that lies within an area like Downtown Elmira. They bring fresh idea and a new positive energy that, frankly, the area could use. They are attempting what many have tried and failed to do; get a foothold and restore the beauty of the place once known as "The Queen City". Some come to the area unencumbered by memories of what once was, they see only what can be. Which is a good thing, of course.
However I think there's too much of an attitude of, "be positive, or be quiet" in response to the people who have lived here for generations that raise questions or doubts about the latest, greatest thing.
Hurricane Agnes gets blamed a lot for the despair many residents of the city feel, but there's more to it than that. should be remembered that residents of the area have been here and heard a lot of pie in the sky promises over the decades. Developers and researchers have come and gone, millions of dollars thrown their way, only to see little or no results in return. "Good 'ol boy" deals and politicians' personal interests or screw ups have slowly chased small businesses out of downtown and to the west of the county or other outlying areas. A giant hockey arena that was supposed to be the savior of the city sits on a corner in the very heart of downtown, largely unused, costing millions while the major players have moved on.
The people of Elmira have always been resilient. They've been through hell, yes, and they stayed. They've earned the right to be skeptical when presented with "the next big thing" if you ask me. To tell them to sit down, shut up when doubts are raised is doing a great disservice to the people who built this community.
Having said that, I also think the people of this area need a paradigm shift.
Folks, the Elmira you remember is gone. Like that last Labrador Duck in Brand Park, it aint coming back. It's sad, yes, but it's also time to stop living in the past.
While I defend the right of every person to be skeptical about the future of the city, I also believe it's time to stop automatically dismissing every new idea that someone proposes. Sure, some of the ideas are blatantly stupid ( **cough, roundabouts... ) but you know, some of the ideas and things I see happening are pretty good!
I've often believed that if you point out problems without offering solutions, you end up becoming part of the problem. Lord knows there's a lot of problems in this area, but truth is, we're still better off than others. People need to remember that. So if someone moves here and gets a glimmer of hope in their eye looking at a run down building in the city, good for them. If they want to invest their time, money and sweat into making something of it, yeah you can be skeptical, but I also think they deserve the chance.