"BLUEPRINT BINGHAMTON [New York] is a citizen-driven effort to plan for Binghamton’s future and move our city forward together."
We had just returned from a vacation to Northwest Arkansas, an area of our country experiencing rapid growth. It was obvious, in visiting a city (Fayetteville, Arkansas) that we lived in many years ago, that extensive planning was ongoing for the city's growth and future.
Sometimes, living in upstate New York, I feel like I live in the Land that Time Forgot. It's a region that has seen better days, and progress towards an uncertain future sometimes doesn't seem too visible.
And then, last night, on a First Friday Art Walk downtown, I saw a sign for something called "Blueprint Binghamton", and we went into the building.
What was happening in this building has made me more optimistic. In the first room, people posed for a picture holding up a poster showing what their hope/dream for our small city is.
I don't live in Binghamton, but I've worked there for years, and I could write volumes about working in an upstate New York city that saw its "glory days" years ago. (I live just outside another such village, for what that is worth.)
We now struggle to recover and thrive once again.
People have (so to speak) "voted with their feet" in past years. In the 1950's, the population of Binghamton was about 85,000. Now, it's about 47,000. Some beautiful, historic buildings are in ruins. Several have been torn down in recent years. Others have had renovations stalled out due to fire or other reasons. There are success stories (Galaxy Brewing, for example, which finally opened late last month), too. The First Friday Art Walks have done a lot to revitalize downtown, too.
What did I find? May people care about Binghamton, and they showed up to express their support. Last night, they were able to "vote" (using stickers) for various ideas to regenerate Binghamton. (It was nice to see that community gardening and indoor farmers markets received a lot of support from the voters.) Some items addressed were ideas for use of an almost abandoned shopping plaza in a neighborhood of Binghamton that is a food desert, and the use of a former (and torn down) factory complex.
Planning is just a first step. But it's an important step to move our community back into better times.
(Tomorrow, Civil War Sunday remains on hiatus, as I blog about the 2nd anniversary of the flooding that impacted my neighborhood and many other parts of Upstate New York.)
Has your community gone through a planning process? Has it been successful?