As in most political campaigns, issues and performance take a back seat to personalities and sound bites. So it has been with the current mayoral primary, which is why we feel it is important to tell a story that needs to be better known.
We represent a core of small arts-related businesses on Ten Broeck Avenue and Cornell Street. Two and a half years ago, with the Shirt Factory studios down the street and RUPCO beginning its huge Lace Mill project, we realized that we were in fact, if not in name, an arts district.
We brought this to the attention of Mayor Gallo and invited him to take a tour, which we billed as “where no mayor has gone before.” What was meant to be a short one- to two-hour tour lasted six hours as the mayor intensely queried us about our businesses. The result was that he saw what we saw — the potential for an arts district in Midtown that could be the heart of revitalizing the long-neglected Midtown area of Kingston. In short, he got it and in a way that no previous administration ever did.
The Arts District Committee has studied the arts districts of some 15 cities throughout the country and found that there is no question about how important the encouragement from City Hall can be. The mayor’s enthusiasm for the arts has led him to make it a major component of his BEAT (business, education, art, technology) initiative and to set up an arts advisory board, which has now become an official Arts Advisory Commission.
The mayor’s economic development director, Gregg Swanzey, has played an indispensable role in moving the arts district along — a constant presence at all of our meetings and a knowledgeable and wise advisor. This too has been the first time we have ever gotten serious attention from the economic development office.
The support has been a long time coming. In 2007, Businessweek Online named Kingston one of the 10 best cities in the country for artists to live in. But it took a mayor with the foresight to foster a partnership between the growing arts businesses, artists, arts organizations, and other quality of life initiatives to make that designation part of the city’s economic agenda. The arts have been an economic engine for so many cities and promise to be so here as well. We applaud the mayor and Gregg Swanzey for their support and for making this a major part of the vision for Kingston’s future.
Anne Bailey, Bailey Pottery; Frank Campagna, ColorPage Marketing & Publishing; Renée Darmstadt, Cornell St. Studios; Richard Frumess, R&F Handmade Paints; Michael Jubie, American Made Monster Studios, Kingston
A beacon and an example
[Last] week we lost one of our “great ones,” a public servant in its true meaning. A woman who was an advocate for the poor, the infirm, the elderly and especially for the infants, born and unborn. She was involved in many battles for holding politicians, agency leaders and organizations responsible for their decisions. She was the model of the caring and involved citizen and helped lead many a battle for the benefit of our community. She was a founding member and first president of the New York State Right to Life advocacy movement and was the director of Birthright, personally supporting much of its costs and counseling functions. She was often asked to speak to young women at workshops, encouraging them on their road to becoming contributing and responsible adults. She was a founding member and co-chairperson of the Committee to Save Our Hospitals. All these and so many more contributions while raising a big loving family who, like us, will miss her greatly. Johanna Jankowski may have moved on to the final phase of her life’s journey, but the memory of her compassion, contributions and fierce personality will remain a beacon and an example of what it means to be a loving person and advocate for those in need.
Paul Jankiewicz, Ph.D., Ulster Park
When nice means dangerous
Sometimes good intentions have very bad results. So it is when drivers stop and “wave” other drivers through an intersection or into traffic. It seems nice, but wavers may not be aware of the traffic that’s still moving around them, and stopping can create a blind spot.
I learned this first hand last week on Washington Avenue in Kingston. I was driving in the left lane and suddenly a car appeared, heading straight toward me. The driver had pulled out of the Olympic Diner and taken a left turn — right into oncoming traffic. I swerved to avoid him, preventing a head-on collision, but he didn’t even brake and rammed the passenger side (fortunately I was alone in the car). Of course, the most important thing is that no one was hurt. But the accident could have been much worse (and my car was totaled, at considerable expense to replace).
The driver’s self-defense? That someone in the right lane had waved him to make the turn, and because of the stopped car he hadn’t seen me coming. The waving driver of course had driven off. Maybe he or she knew that recent court cases in a few states have found that drivers “waving in” others are liable if accidents occur as a result.
I saw an accident almost happen in Phoenicia when a driver waved another forward through a stop sign — oblivious to oncoming traffic on Main Street. My husband could have been hit in Kingston if he’d heeded two drivers waving him to go through a crowded intersection — who didn’t seem to notice that other drivers responded to the stopped cars by going around them.