Press-Republican

January 28, 2013

Vision2Action issues progress report

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Converting vision to action.

That’s the idea behind Vision2Action, an outgrowth of the Partnership for Community Development’s Vision 2040 forums. Vison2Action members recently presented a progress report on ideas that arose during a series of four public forums on the importance of the arts, recreation, transportation and education to community growth and sustainability.

Partnership for Community Development co-Chair Devi Momot of Twin State Voice-Data-Video told a large crowd at the Strand Theatre that Vision2Action is a grassroots group that is working to turn the ideas gathered during the partnership’s Vision 2040 forums into action.

”One of our main goals is to attract 3,000 families to the region by 2040,” she said.

SERVICE GAP

Colin Read, an economics professor at SUNY Plattsburgh, said that during the Vision 2040 forums that led to Vision2Action, it became clear the region’s aging population was likely to increase by 2035-2040, while the number of young and middle-aged are likely to decline. 

That would leave a gap in the number of people able to provide services needed as workers retire.

The question became: “How do we attract those vibrant professionals, those young families to this area?” he said.

That was where the idea for the four public forums arose, Read said.

LIFE OF LEARNING

Clinton Community College President John Jablonski outlined progress made on the THRIVE public/private partnership to improve the cradle through career approach to education. It is an effort to create increased partnerships between education, industry, economic development, and health-care and human-services providers.

He said that while everyone recognized how education affects a community, it has become increasingly apparent how a community can affect education. 

A leadership council has identified six community-level, long-range goals, from making sure every child is prepared to enter school through to encouraging people to remain committed to life-long learning once they have a career.

Before, Jablonski said, the various entities focused on their own goals. The goal is now to have them work toward a common goal.

”We want to reach this point where there is perfect symmetry.”

HEALTHY PURSUITS

Luke Cyphers, a member of the Saranac River Trail Advisory Committee, presented progress in the area of recreation. During the recreation forum, he said, it became clear that the use of recreation resources was important for the health of the community but also for its economic development.

”The best way is the simplest — use what we have,” Cyphers said.

The Plattsburgh City Beach had its best attendance in many years, he noted. There was also continued development of the Saranac Land Trust and increases in programs at the city, town and county recreation departments.

The Saranac River Trail now covers 1.3 miles and has room to expand through the towns of Schuyler Falls, Plattsburgh and Saranac. 

Although 2012 was a big year, 2013 will be even bigger, he said.

SAFER MOTION

Town of Plattsburgh Planning Department head Philip Von Bargen detailed progress on the Complete Streets initiative. It is an effort to make roads safer not only for cars and trucks but also cyclists and pedestrians.

One example is an extension of sidewalks along Rugar Street from the city to the Ampersand Drive intersection. The county has also decreased the speed limit along a portion of Tom Miller road to from 55 to 40 miles per hour, he said.

A number of intersections along Route 3 are slated for crosswalk improvements, Von Bargen said. The Complete Streets Steering Committee will soon release its initial report, he said.

”In the short term, we hope to focus on the three E’s: education, engineering and enforcement.”

BLOSSOMING ARTS

Joshua Kretser of p.o.d. studio focused on ROTA Gallery, the North Country Cultural Center of the Arts and the Strand Theatre in his arts presentation.

ROTA Gallery began as a sole proprietorship in February 2011 and has since grown into a collective organization, a space anyone can use to bring their ideas to fruition. Because of increased participation, the gallery has moved to a larger space at 50 Margaret St.

The Center for the Arts continues to develop new programs, Kretser said, including more offerings for seniors interested in the arts.

The Center for the Arts is preparing to change its name to the Strand Arts Center as theater renovations near completion, expected this summer.

“The Strand Theater is a landmark of historical and cultural importance,” he said.

Kretser said that in addition to its role as the anchor to a downtown arts corridor, it is expected to create about 80 jobs once open.

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com