Jump to content

Jim

TTL Member
  • Content Count

    23
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    1

Jim last won the day on November 22 2023

Jim had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

14 Good

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    There will be a meeting of anyone interested in saving Brand Park Pool today at 5 at the Steele Library in Elmira. Incidentally, my letter was finally published in the Star-Gazette on May 10, 2024.
  2. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    New developments have arisen that should give the city reason to reconsider tearing down Brand Park Pool. First, NYS has agreed to set up a fund of $160 million to build or restore pools in the state, especially in under-served communities. Second, the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has asked the City of Elmira to conduct a study of the condition of the building, undoubtedly because the last study was done in 2010, because they consider the pool of historic value and because the state is establishing this fund. About 4-5 weeks ago, I discovered the news about the state's new grand program and wrote a letter to the Star-Gazette. I sent it 3 times, and each time they refused to publish it. So, I have written the editors asking for a reason, but they refuse to answer me. I have decided to post the letter here, and I ask you to consider writing your City of Elmira council rep and the mayor encouraging them to apply for the state grant and to look for opportunities to restore this magnificent monument to Elmira's past and, hopefully, its future. Letter: Recently Governor Hochul announced that she and the state legislature have agreed to allocate $160 million to build or restore swimming pools throughout our state. This money could prove to be an incredibly advantageous windfall for Elmira, and I urge the city council to consider this opportunity to restore Brand Park Pool. Swimming pools offer great value to cities, and BPP is an especially important asset to Elmira. The value of swimming pools. Like pools throughout the U.S., BPP attracted children and adults in droves. They spent the entire day there, in a safe place. They learned to swim, they socialized and played with their friends, they met and interacted with people of diverse backgrounds, and they stayed out of mischief. I have spoken with lots a people who used to go to BPP. Their experiences are outstanding memories, mostly unforgettable stories of shared moments of joy and friendship, but sometimes of comfort. Some, for example, told me that they went there to get away from life’s troubles, and studies have shown that pools serve to promote mental as well as physical health. They are therapeutic. No other park activities come anywhere near providing the enormous advantages of swimming pools. No other activities strengthen our democracy and build community as do public pools. Historic preservation Cities and towns in America are thriving because of historic restoration. They often work with Main Street America, a subdivision of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has a proven record of reviving the urban fabric of thousands of towns across America. Its fundamental approach is twofold: the restoration of downtowns and historic preservation. Downtowns, which drive the tax base when they flourish, and historic buildings give character and charm to cities. People want to be there, to work and live there. They are walkable, and they create a sense of place that is inviting, attractive and alive with diverse, small businesses. They are diametrical opposites of malls. Elmira has made some wonderful advances in its downtown recently. Entrepreneurs have rehabbed and retrofitted numerous historic buildings that have made a appealing, economic impact on the city, and Elmira has undertaken to restore the clock tower on City Hall, a necessary if only a bit delayed endeavor. These efforts are not enough. We need to pay attention to buildings like Elmira’s Brand Park Pool, which, through its rich history, its unique architecture, its imposing character, and its attraction endows the city with great value. Restoring it will show the Southside that the city cares about it, and it will stimulate further investment and improvement in that part of Elmira. If we get this grant, the benefits will be invaluable to recreation, economic development, the sense of community, and the revitalization of the Southside, as well as to the our great heritage. The state grant New York’s proposal to build and restore more public pools is part of a national trend that acknowledges the importance of swimming lessons to combat deaths by drowning in the U.S., particularly among minority groups, and deaths from excessive heat. It also addresses the need to support and improve underserved communities, communities like Elmira’s 5th district. The state appropriation is particularly relevant to Elmira. It provides money for restoration of our rare, historic pool and architectural gem in an area of the city that needs investment and incentives. In addition, it underwrites lifeguard training and swimming lessons/water safety classes in a program that would partner Elmira with CCC in a win-win endeavor. The swimming lessons could be held either at BPP or at the CCC pool. The appropriation would also help increase the number of lifeguards, which declined significantly throughout the country during the pandemic, not only by underwriting their training but also by paying their wages. And we might consider supplementing the wages with an incentive like the one in Philadelphia, which holds a “Philly Phreeze,” where participants jump in the water in winter to raise bonuses for their lifeguards. That event has substantially helped recruit lifeguards. Finally, the grant would provide transportation for kids to the pool for swimming lessons and promote community swim classes. Today, governments throughout the U.S. are incentivizing the building and restoring of swimming pools. They recognize the great public good that pools bring to our communities, and they are even finding new uses for them. In Philadelphia, for example, which has begun to restore its public pool system, one pool offers Aquatic Zumba exercise for seniors. Let’s save a rare and magnificent treasure in the fabric of Elmira, and let’s make swimming a public good here, not a luxury. This opportunity is too good to let go. For more information on the state grant, check the article of Mar. 28 in the Star-Gazette: https://www.stargazette.com/story/news/ny-news/2024/03/28/will-more-pools-curb-drownings-inside-ny-safe-swimming-sites-push/73094156007/
  3. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    The reason our taxes in Elmira are rising every year is incompetence, lack of vision and planning, and possibly corruption... Under Mandell, our taxes been raised to an excessively high level. We should be paying lower taxes AND taking care of the properties that give value to the city. With the current administration, however, we will continue on the parking lot/Dollar Stores decline and the malling of downtown, our population will continue to declinel, and we will continue to shuffle our feet in the sterile ashes of a dreary, ugly, and uninspiring city. We can do better, a lot better.
  4. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    I sent the following opinion piece to the Star-Gazette, Mar. 6. They refused to publish it: Letter to the Star-Gazette In 2015, when Mr. Mandell was running for mayor, he came by my house to ask for my vote. I told him that I was concerned about the state of the Maxwell Place fire station and asked for his thoughts. His reply was that the city didn’t have the money to repair it; so I suggested that he consider setting aside a certain amount of money for restoration in the city’s budget each year. I proposed $100,000. Had he done that, the city would now have more than a million dollars for such use. Instead, as mayor he did nothing other than neglect it, like many before him, until 2020, when he and the city council gave it away for a song, a mere $1. It confirmed my suspicion that Mr. Mandell had no interest in Elmira’s past grandeur and no understanding of the value that its historical monuments bring to the city. Also, it underscored to me what I have observed in many areas since then, that what has characterized our governments for far too long is neglect and waste, a lack of devotion to duty and a lack of imagination, vision, and stewardship, the willingness to take care of the properties that belong not to these officials, but to the people of Elmira. So with these thoughts in mind, let’s turn our attention to Elmira’s history and to the Brand Park Pool and building. One of the campaign pledges I made to Elmirans last fall was to regain the Maxwell Pl. fire station and purchase buildings used by the fire industry, for the purpose of creating a fire museum to celebrate that glorious part of Elmira’s history. Imagine what returns such a project would bring to the city? It would increase tourism, it would be a source of pride for our city and give Elmira publicity throughout the U.S. It would stimulate growth, improvement and investment throughout Elmira, and especially in the city’s 4th and 5th districts, districts that have been sadly neglected for years, and it would be a signal to the people of those districts that we care about them and to all of Elmira that we want the entire city to thrive. The same can be said of the BPP building. Last year, I talked with lots of Elmirans about the pool. Most told me they would prefer to keep the building, even if the pool could not be included. Nearly all had no interest in a splash pool. Have you seen the small one that’s already in Brand Park? It’s rusted out and hasn’t worked for years. And the park facilities generally? Check out the rusted, vandalized playground equipment. Do you really think a new splash pad will fare any better? And how could it replace the BPP? The people who used and loved the pool spent all day there; they swam and socialized and ate there, and they stayed out of trouble. Will we get the same value or vibes from a splash pad? Instead of making blanket decisions based not on a firm foundation but on their own biases, why doesn’t the City ask the people of Elmira if they’d like to see it rehabilitated; why don’t they investigate current costs of restoration and look into grants for restoration; and why don’t they ask the people what uses they would recommend? I can think of many possibilities for the building: summer and winter skating and other sports activities, arts programs and events, private and public venues, business gatherings, weddings and other celebrations, and on and on... The BPP building, which I like to call Elmira’s Little Roman Coliseum, is designed in a fairly rare and attractive style and is of historic interest. It would also bring tourism to the city, give Elmira another odd, beautiful and useful gem to show off, and, like the Maxwell Pl. Fire station, bring pride and attention to District 5 and to all of Elmira. Given what the mayor stated about the fire station and the way he dealt with it, however, we should not be surprised that he also claims that it would cost too much to repair the BPP building. No one, including him, really knows the cost, either to fully restore pool and building or to rehabilitate only the building. In 2010 the engineering firm hired by the city to assess its state gave an estimate of $1.6 million for repairs. That cost would be higher today, of course, but is it not worth finding out? We know that our city allocates funds in ways that are often mysterious, unjustifiable, and wasteful, like the $2 million of the Covid relief grant it used to replace the sprinkler system at the city’s golf course. I ask you: how much does the sprinkler project benefit the city, the entire city? Can it claim to bring anywhere near the value of what would accrue to Elmira and Elmirans by rehabilitating and using the Maxwell Place fire station or the BPP building? And by the way, they don’t grow back. Historic preservation brings great value to communities: spiritual, economic, aesthetic, and cities and small towns in the U.S. that have recognized this truth are thriving. They know that these structures have character and charm, that they draw our attention and give us a sense of place and beauty, that they recall our past and that they defy the architectural uglification that has plagued city- and landscapes like Elmira’s over the past 70 years. And those towns that don’t value their history simply muddle along in the suffocating mire of an unappealing, decadent status quo; in our case, it’s partly a result of the give-up mentality of ‘72. Corning is certainly not a good example of wise planning, but when the ‘72 flood is mentioned in conversation, many people lament the loss of Elmira’s downtown and praise the wisdom of Corning in maintaining Market Street and its downtown. They recognize the charm, character and value of retaining that scenic historical streetscape. Imagine Corning without it? Would you go there? Do you want to come or live here, when Elmira’s choice, to tear down and abandon our downtown and the buildings that celebrate our past and give character to the city, still rules? How many people have you heard say: “Elmira is a dump.” Maybe you’ve said it too. I don’t like to hear that any more than anyone. But enough people from in and around Elmira say it that we’d better take it seriously. Consider, for example, comparing the Maxwell Pl. Fire station with the fire station, city hall, etc., in Elmira Heights, now the property of the Heights Historic Society. Both these buildings were built in 1897. Drive by and do a comparison. Or ask yourselves about Elmira’s yearly loss of population, many of them young people who see few opportunities here; many others you may know, people who have been established here for years and have vested interests in our community but have moved away to greener pastures like W. Elmira or other nearby locations. Have you asked them why? Don’t these trends speak to you? Don't they say something about the failures of our governments to attend to Elmra's needs and to value its treasures? Did you ever notice the catch phrase that used to pop up on the city’s website? It read: Honoring the past, building the future. Whenever I saw that, I thought: what a joke, what a sham. Well, it’s no longer on the webpage. I wonder if they took it down after I pointed out last year the fraud that it expressed. Actually, I think they should put it back up and be truthful. I suggest: Destroying the past, impoverishing the future. I came to Elmira in 2000. It is my home, and I love this area and the people here. But I can say to you that little has changed in the city since I first arrived. Some things have improved, in part due to the good work, vision and taste of some local entrepreneurs who recognize the value of heritage properties. And some things are worse–the decaying houses throughout the city, for example, and the demolition of properties and their replacement by parking lots–as the city continues on its visionless, undisciplined and piecemeal uglifying and malling (pun intended) of our city, all of which has lead to an increased tax burden on all of us. Finally, my last word is for the people of Elmira. As you all know, nationally we are embroiled in a wrestling match about making America great again. What we all need to realize, however, is this: making America great, or greater, does not start at the Texas-Mexico border. It starts locally, right here in Elmira. If we don’t show an interest in government, if we don’t value our history, if we don’t demand transparency, accountability and stewardship of our government officials, if we don’t vote, and if we don’t demand accountability of ourselves, we get what we have: waste, lack of openness, neglect, lack of imagination and vision, indifference to Elmira’s great heritage, in brief, bad government. We all have a chance to help regenerate a magnificent city, in part by saving the properties that are the kernel of our soul and that will lead us to a grander future. If we fail to stop the mayor's destruction of our heritage, we will impoverish our future and contribute more and more to the decline of our city. Please do what you can to help this effort to save the Brand Park Pool building and the Maxwell Pl. Fire Station. WAKE UP ELMIRA!
  5. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    Would you write to our city officials a letter opposing the demolition of this magnificent building? I offer the following letter that you are welcome to adapt and use, if you wish: Model letter: Mayor Mandell, City Manager Mike Collins, and members of the Elmira City Council: It is my understanding that you have made a unilateral decision to demolish the historic Brand Park Pool. As you know, the last appraisal of the building and pool was done in 2010, and no further professional examinations have taken place since then. Instead, the building has been irresponsibly and disgracefully neglected by our city governments. As a result, we do not know the actual state of the building and pool, as you, Mr. Mandell, pointed out in your recent interview with WETM news. Brand Park Pool belongs to all the people of Elmira. It has meant so much to this city, especially to those (like me) who used to swim, socialize, play and eat there. It is a truly vital and invaluable asset, for both its historic and future value to us, and I would like to ask the city to commission a new appraisal of the cost of repairs that takes into consideration all possibilities of restoration. If, then, it is found that the pool is not able to be restored because of cost, then we should at least consider preserving and repurposing the building for both public and private uses, such as sports activities in winter and summer, tourism, public events, artistic events and activities, and private events, such as business gatherings, weddings, and so on. I also believe that the people of Elmira should be invited to offer their opinions about restoration and re-use of the building. In addition, we should consider applying for grants and conducting a capital funding effort to pay for the restoration, if feasible. Until these efforts are made, in my opinion, the decision to tear down the building is unjustifiable, unacceptable and irresponsible. Sincerely,
  6. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    Here is my complete message to the Elmira City Council at the council meeting, Feb.26. If you have already read the section that appears in Nick Dubina's article, then scroll down and start reading at the paragraph that begins: "Have you noticed the catch phrase..." In 2015, when Mr. Mandell was running for mayor, he came by my house to ask for my vote. I told him that I was concerned about the state of the Maxwell Place fire station and asked for his thoughts. His reply was that the city didn’t have the money to repair it; so I suggested that he might consider setting aside a certain amount of money for restoration in the city’s budget each year. I proposed $100,000. Had he done that, the city would now have more than a million dollars for such use. Instead, as mayor he did nothing other than neglect it, like many before him, until 2020, when he and the city council gave it away for a song, a mere $1. It confirmed my suspicion that Mr. Mandell had no interest in Elmira’s past grandeur and no understanding of the value that its historical monuments bring to the city. Also, it underscored the city officials’ lack of a devotion to duty, the lack of imagination, vision, and stewardship, the willingness to take care of the properties that belong not to these officials, but to the people of Elmira, that has characterized our governments for far too long. Take the city’s failure to maintain our parks, in spite of the false claims this past fall by the mayor that he had, and I quote, “made vast improvements and investments in our City Parks.” After 7 years of our city’s neglect, you can be sure that nothing would have been done about the skate rink at Eldridge Park, for example, had not Andy Patros made a public stink about it. I also recommend you take a stroll through our parks if you want to get a true appraisal of their sick state. This is just one of many examples that typify the state of affairs in Elmira. We have been witness to years of neglect... And that neglect applies to many aspects of the city: we proudly claim to have a large number of Victorian houses in Elmira. So what do about them? Many, if not most, are boarded up. And what about the hundreds of rotting houses in the city? The city might cite you if you let your grass grow too high, but the evidence says that they couldn’t care less about the slumlords and derelict houses? Check this house out, for example, on Grand Central; or this one on W. Second St., about a block from my home; these are just 2 examples of hundreds of similar houses and of the failures of city government, failures by the way, that have contributed to this government’s regularly increasing the tax burden on you and me. So with that in mind, let’s turn our attention to the importance of Elmira’s history and to the Brand Park Pool. First, going back to the Maxwell Pl. fire station, one of the campaign pledges I made to Elmirans was to regain the fire station and purchase buildings used by the fire industry, for the purpose of creating a fire museum to celebrate that glorious part of Elmira’s history. Imagine what such a project would bring to the city? It would increase tourism, it would be a source of pride for our city and give Elmira publicity throughout the U.S. It would stimulate growth, improvement and investment throughout Elmira, and especially in the city’s 4th and 5th districts, districts that have been sadly neglected for years, and it would be a signal to the people of those districts that we care about them, and a signal to all of Elmira that we want the entire city to thrive. (to be a destination, a drive-to, not a drive-through, as I proposed in my campaign.) The same can be said of the BPP building. So, during last year’s campaign, I talked with lots of people in Elmira, either in person or via social media. Most told me they would prefer to keep the building, even if the pool would not be included. Nearly all had no interest in a splash pool. What about the one that’s already there? Go have a look. It hasn’t worked for years. And the park facilities generally? Go by and check out the rusted swings and so on and, in the summer, the 3-4 foot weeds that adorn the playground. Do you really think a new splash pad will fare any better? And how could it replace the BPP? The people who used and loved the pool spent all day there; they swam and socialized and ate there, and they stayed out of trouble. (The city cut me off after “playground.” Why doesn’t the city ask the people of Elmira if they’d like to see it rehabilitated; why don’t they investigate current costs of restoration and look into grants for restoration; and why don’t they ask the people what uses they would recommend instead of making categorical decisions based on their own biases. I can think of many possibilities: summer and winter skating and other sports activities, arts programs and events, private and public gatherings, weddings, and on and on... The BPP building, which I like to call Elmira’s Little Roman Coliseum, is a fairly rare style. It is a period piece that would also bring tourism to the city, give Elmira another odd and beautiful gem to show off, and, like the Maxwell Pl. Fire station, bring pride and attention to District 5 and to all of Elmira. Given what the mayor stated about the fire station, it is no surprise that he also claims that it would cost too much to repair the BPP building. No one really knows the cost, however, either to fully restore or to rehabilitate only the building. In 2010 the engineering firm hired by the city gave an estimate of $1.6 million for repairs. That cost would be higher today, of course, but is it not worth finding out? We know that our city allocates funds in ways that are often mysterious, unjustifiable, and wasteful, like the $2 million of Covid grant money used to replace the sprinkler system at the city’s golf course. I ask you: how much does the sprinkler project benefit the city, the entire city? Can it claim to bring anywhere near the value of what would accrue to Elmira and Elmirans by rehabilitating and using the Maxwell Place fire station or the BPP building? And by the way, they don’t grow back. Historic preservation brings great value to communities: spiritual, economic, aesthetic, and cities and small towns in the U.S. that have recognized this truth are thriving. They know that these structures have character and charm, that they draw our attention and give us a sense of place and beauty, that they recall our past and that they defy the architectural uglification that has plagued city- and landscapes like Elmira’s over the past 70 years. And for those towns that don’t value their history, they muddle along in the suffocating mire of an unappealing status quo; in our case, it’s the give-up mentality of ‘72. Have you noticed the catch phrase that used to pop up on the city’s website? It read: Honoring the past, building the future. Whenever I saw that, I thought: what a joke, what a sham. It’s no longer on the webpage, by the way. I imagine they took it down after I pointed out last year the fraud that it expressed. I think they should put it back up, but with honesty. I suggest: Destroying the past, impoverishing the future. How many people have you heard say: “Elmira is a dump.” Maybe you’ve said it too. I don’t like to hear that any more than anyone. But enough people from in and around Elmira say it that we’d better take it seriously. Consider, for example, comparing the Maxwell Pl. Fire station with the fire station, city hall, etc., in Elmira Heights, now the property of the Heights Historic Society. Both these buildings were built in 1897. Drive by and do a comparison. Or ask yourselves about Elmira’s yearly loss of population, many of them young people who see few opportunities here; many others you may know, people who have been established here for years and have vested interests in our community but have moved away to greener pastures like W. Elmira or other nearby locations. Have you asked them why? Don’t these trends speak to you? Don't they say something about the failures of our governments to attend to the Elmra's needs? I came to Elmira in 2000. It is my home, and I love this area and the people here. But I can say to you that little has changed in the city since I first arrived. Some things have improved, in part due to the good work, vision and taste of some local entrepreneurs who recognize the value of heritage properties. And some things are worse, as the city continues on its visionless, undisciplined and piecemeal uglifying and malling (pun intended) of our city. Finally, my last word is for the people of Elmira. As you all know, nationally we are embroiled in a wrestling match about making America great again. What we all need to realize, however, is this: making America great, or greater, does not start at the Texas-Mexico border. It starts right here in Elmira. If we don’t show an interest in government, if we don’t demand transparency and accountability of our government officials, if we don’t vote, and if we don’t demand accountability of ourselves, we get what we have: wasteful, secretive, unimaginative, neglectful, indifferent to Elmira’s great heritage, in brief, bad government. We all have a chance to help regenerate a magnificent city, by saving the properties that are part of our soul and that will lead us to a grander future. If we fail to stop the mayor's destruction of our heritage, we will impoverish our future and contribute more and more to the decline of our city. Please do what you can to help this effort.
  7. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    Below there is a link to the excellent report by Nick Dubina of the last Elmira City Council's meeting, including video recordings of my remarks and Mr. Mandell's response to me, as well as Mr. Dubina's research on the pool. The last engineering report, which showed that the Brand Park Pool could be restored, was done in 2010. The story of the pool is one of neglect by many mayors, including Mr. Mandell, who in his response to me first claims that the pool is not restorable, Later in his response, he admits that he has no idea what the cost would be to restore it, and he also reveals that he has never considered any other possibilities, such as removing the pool and restoring only the building. Nor has he asked the people of Elmira what they might like for its future. His interest in the history of Elmira is nil, and he has no understanding of the value that would come to city with the care of its historical properties. Look at what he did with the Maxwell Place fire station. Like other mayors, he neglected it for several years, then sold it in 2020 for $1. It is a monument of great importance and value to the city and to the district where it stands, and treating it in this manner is a shameful disgrace and insult to the City of Elmira. In the end, his casual disregard for the fire station and for Brand Park Pool will cost a great deal in tourism, attractiveness, historical value, pride, character, and charm to our city. Consider also his failure to do anything about the Court House in 2016, when the city first learned of the problem with the tower. How much wasted money have those 8 years of neglect meant for the city? As you probably know, we are now up to about $4 million for its restoration. Regarding the mayor's comments about the fire station, the building is an important link to Elmira's fire industry history. Dumping it off to an individual is an insult to Elmira, especially for $1. As for putting it on the tax rolls by selling, that is a joke and a fabricated attempt to hide the real reasons. The value that would come to the city in the future as a historic monument or museum in celebration of the fire industry is far greater. This callous sale is another typical example of the visionless waste of Elmira''s great resources and money. My message to the City Council can be found in Mr. Dubina's article, and I will post a more complete version here later. Please read it and consider acting to stop this senseless destruction of such a valuable asset. The Brand Park Pool building belongs to us, not to the unilateral, whimsical decision of an unimaginative, visionless mayor. The building belongs to all of us. Brand Park Pool could have been "saved and repaired" in 2010, report says (mytwintiers.com)
  8. Jim

    Brand Park Pool

    FYI. I will address the Elmira city council tonight on the topic of the BPP building, at 5:30. If you have the time and interest, please attend.
  9. Jim

    Taxes

    The city also spent nearly $30 million in grant money and is trying to get more. You'd think they could budget a little better. My guess is that they need to raise taxes again because of their waste on frivolous projects and their incompetence.
  10. The city of Elmira raised taxes 1% in 2023, as you all must know. Did you also notice that, right after the recent elections, the mayor and city manager announced another tax increase of 2% for 2024.
  11. Jim

    First Arena

    In the end, if the legislature were to decide to tear the building down, there should be a PLAN to replace that space in an attractive way that complies with the architecture of the downtown and encourages the redevelopment of a downtown that is a true downtown, not a mall. It takes imaginative, visionary, knowledgeable leadership.
  12. Jim

    First Arena

    Use of ARP funds by both the Legislature and the City of Elmira is incredibly wasteful and inappropriate.
  13. Thanks Chris, I feel fine, just very concerned about the future of Elmira. The results do not bode well.
  14. Thanks Karen, I agree. The clock is on city hall, of course. But the issue of neglect and a lack of care for the historic value of our past monuments is especially disgraceful.
×
×
  • Create New...