Dick Case briefly offers some new thoughts on the topic du jour, the Connective Corridor. Mr. Case has expressed some skepticism, as have members of this blog, on the project, and seems to continue to be cautious – and perhaps rightly so. I consider myself generally in favor of the CC, but as my colleague Garrett has pointed out, we need to be realistic about what it can – and should – accomplish. First, we need to clearly define the purpose. Artists’ renderings and imaginative plans are good, and get us thinking creatively about a project. But we’re apparently going to be spending significant amounts of taxpayer money on the CC and we need to be practical to a certain extent too.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. As our starting point, we need the university to be more physically tied to downtown. Removing the nasty I-81 overpass, as has been suggested, is a great idea, but likely won’t happen without an exhaustive and acrimonious process that will make Congel’s Ditch look like the Soldier/Sailor renovations (for example, how will truckers feel?). And as Garrett pointed out to me yesterday, does Syracuse really want our own Little Big Dig? So focusing on eliminating of I-81, while a good solution in theory, doesn’t advance the plot.
Next. Well, what about the gondolas…sigh. The gondolas. Well, interestingly enough, the P-S looked at the man behind the infamous plan today (perhaps inspired by Salt[ed] City? I have a feeling we might have some reporters in our audience. Welcome.). I gotta admit, it does sounds kinda cool. But let’s stay grounded for now, folks.
So what’s left? I think a couple of ideas. First, a shuttle bus is a no-brainer. According to some SU friends, current Centro shuttles run irregularly, without any posted schedules or clearly defined stops. I went to college in Providence, R.I., at a school a quarter of SU’s size and footprint. It managed to run a free student shuttle service around the city, seven days a week, with a well-delineated schedule and clearly identified stops. My guess is SU could accomplish this tomorrow with little effort. It’s not sexy, but I think it would be effective. We can’t make kids leave M Street, but at least we can offer them a ride to Armory. And let me say again, renovating the Warehouse in Armory was a masterstroke, and I give S.U. mucho kudos for it. Note that it seems to have been accomplished without massive bureaucracy, processes, committees, syndicates, etc, etc., but rather with decisiveness and action.
Ok, now you want sexy? I think the OnTrack option is worth further exploration. Commuters are clearly NOT going to use it, as has been made abundantly clear. But what if S.U. cleans up their station (a security post, some serious lighting, signage), and the city tackles the Armory station? The infrastructure is already there. It’s cool and “intermodal” (I mean, you gotta walk there or whatever). My guess is it wouldn’t take much effort or money to get this up and running either – and if students vote (or don’t vote) with their feet, we haven’t spent tons of money and effort for naught. And of course, the train can continue to the Inner Harbor, One Tex Simone Drive, Congel’s Ditch, etc.
Ok, let’s throw in some bike paths, some solid, attractive, easy to maintain signage, and make sure the shuttle service goes down Genesee Street and to the CoE too. Seems like a pretty good start to me. But what about the wireless Internet kiosks? The ready-made art? The street minstrels and jugglers? I mean, ok, I guess. I think Syracuse is more Norman Rockwell than Marcel Duchamp, and I fear that we could end up with some creepy po-mo sculptures and kiosk computer that freeze up in the winter, though. Now, as I’ve said before, I don’t like to be negative about creative ideas. I do think wireless Internet coverage in the CC would be cool. And I love that the city has a vibrant cultural scene – and while I believe in appealing to people’s better selves and not defaming art to satisfy crass consumerism, we also gotta know who is using the CC and what its main purpose should be. Academics tend to pontificate about “place and space” and things like that, but in the end, the Connective Corridor should be just that – a way to get from here to there. If we keep that in mind, I think this project is going to be a key part of the city’s future, and an exciting advancement of the plot. Oh, and yes. Why aren’t the designs available online anywhere? It makes me nervous when we hear talk about openness and community involvement, and then don’t see wide dissemination of the designs themselves…hopefully SU will put them up on their site soon. Anyone having any intel on this?
We hope we're not beating a dead horse with these constant posts on the CC - I actually meant to post on about a half dozen other things tonight as well. But this is a really important topic, and I think in some emblematic of the choices we have to make about our city's future. Anyone who's reading this, please take a moment to chime in and offer your thoughts.
And I promise to talk (in fewer words!) about some other cool stuff that's happening, for the rest of the week.