A blog about Hudson, New York

Smart Indeed

Greene and Columbia Counties’ very own radio station, WGXC,  launches this Saturday at 90.7 FM, just a short dial away from WAMC (conveniently located for those in need of a quick break from Alan Chartok every once in a while.) Some of the most promising programing will no doubt be coming from WGXC Newsroom’s Paul Smart, who for months now has been filling up the station’s web site with a dead-tree daily’s worth of relevant stories for the community, either originally reported or gleaned from both known and obscure sources.

An example of the kind of  enlightening and detailed news items that Smart often brings to our attention is the aptly titled (if rather Getrude Stein-ish sounding and punctuated)  “Smart Growth is the law, now”  posting, which got me so excited (in a good way) that I had to stop reading midway,  for fear of not going to sleep that night.

The shift in tone from suburbia to exurbia, and homeowners’ returned wish to be able to walk to stores, libraries and other municipal services, is the subject of an increasingly powerful state agency, Empire State Future, in charge of a new state law, the New York Public Infrastructure Policy Act. Kathy Kahn of HV Biz has a story on how ESF Executive Director Peter Fleischer is now saying that the state’s going to force more municipalities to think twice when it comes to planning infrastructure projects within their borders. Kahn reports how Fleischer recently outlined what the new law will do to help increase municipalities’ desire to think ‘smart’  in order to qualify for funding, directing 10 state agencies, authorities and public corporations – from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Environmental Conservation – to screen infrastructure programs to stop sprawl and to rate, on the basis of benefit, whether a project is considered a smart investment or one that will contribute to the problem.  ‘While Fleischer said some areas of the mid-Hudson region would remain rural by nature, towns and villages that are growing in population must find ways to make those expanding communities more pedestrian and public transportation friendly,’ Kahn writes.  ‘The Public Infrastructure Policy Act will require municipal planners to justify to the state agencies encompassed by the legislation to deem them worthy of funding based on their planning.’ The law was signed in September, 2010. ”

The most exciting thing about this item can be found by searching further at the New York Public Infrastructure Policy Act’s web site, which states that millions of dollars of  quality- of- life  infrastructure grants could be used for the kind of projects I mentioned in the last few posts:  the renovation of the Opera House auditorium, the Seventh Street Park  and various historic properties, perhaps even  the acquisition of waterfront property from heavy industry.  “ The New York Main Street program provides financial resources and technical assistance to communities to strengthen the economic vitality of the State’s traditional Main Streets and neighborhoods….Main Street grants are revitalizing our downtowns through targeted commercial/residential improvements such as facade renovations, interior residential building upgrades and streetscape enhancements. Cultural anchors, such as theatres or museums, have also been renovated with Main Street funds.”

Given the state’s present fiscal situation, money might not be available for any construction, at least for now–but shouldn’t we be trying: i.e. choosing projects, creating architectural renderings, raising private donations, and lobbying to see them expedited?  We need exciting plans, or at least a plan to get a plan. Perhaps this is something that a local radio station such as WGXC could help marshal support for. — Scott Baldinger

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