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What Will Jamestown Look Like?

August 5, 2008 - Ray Hall (Archive)

All the recent grumbling by city officials about an old and deteriorating housing stock, dilapidated houses, un-mowed and overgrown lawns and irresponsible landlords has caused me to wonder what Jamestown will look like five, ten, maybe fifteen years from now.

Chances are not much will change unless and until we stop doing the same things over and over again with the same results. We repeatedly build, tear down and rebuild the same parking ramps and how many times have we re-done Third Street? How often have we used Community Block Grant money to refit old houses when a vacant lot would have been the better remedy?

A recent study commissioned by someone, the city perhaps, came up with suggestions that we make over Washington Street and re-do Fourth and Fifth Streets, or maybe it was Second Street, to accommodate two-way traffic. The only problem the report concluded was that it would cost millions of dollars to accomplish.

I can’t dispute the costs but in my history in Jamestown we have changed Washington Street at least twice and to what end? The north end of the Street has become more commercial, that’s good I suppose, more plastic, more sterile than before, but it does look better. However, the street has an absolutely hideous looking bridge downtown and sketches I’ve seen for replacement are not aesthetically encouraging and, if I’m not mistaken, our one-way streets were once two-way streets at least once, maybe twice before.

Brooklyn Square urban renewal during the Seventies fundamentally changed the appearance of Jamestown, not for the better some would argue, but change it did. Donald Bloomquist and the people at CODE have transformed a large section of East Second Street with a group of durable and more appealing townhouses that has fundamentally changed our ideas of what subsidized housing should look like.

Goody-Glancy or the River Walk Project or whatever it is called will fundamentally change the appearance of the city provided it doesn’t fall victim to too many compromises. Goody-Glancy talks a lot about upscale, loft apartments in downtown Jamestown and along the Chadakoin River, but not many people will want to get up in the morning and see a 350’ power plant smoke stack staring down at them.

Some of our city officials and Jamestown promoters get upset with all the negative grumblings from Jamestowners, and sometimes it can be more than anyone wants to hear, but they shouldn’t take it personally or internalize the gripes. Too many times, too many Jamestowners have been led down the same road too many times and too many times with the same results.



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