I believe I've proven my loyalty to this area where we live (Western New York, Chautauqua County, the Jamestown area), my enjoyment growing up here, and working my entire career here. I've devoted numerous articles in this column remembering life here, honoring many people from here who have done so much to add to the culture, heritage, and growth of this area, and I hope I've conveyed my pride for this area to many who read this column weekly. That being said, all that glitters is not gold. I've seen some things happen in our area, which make me wonder if we're just grasping at anything to make There's been an effort, the past few years, to refurbish store fronts and empty buildings within our community, and they definitely look nice as you drive by them, but many of those stores remain empty, generating no business, and nothing on the tax rolls helping to keep taxes down in the area. Similarly, some new buildings built in our area have had trouble finding occupants, so existing businesses have been offered chances to move into the new edifices, thus creating other empty buildings in the community.
We've spruced up old places from the past (i.e. the Railroad Station), yet I've not been given answers to the questions, "What will this do for the community?" "Will it bring income?" "What will maintenance costs be?" "Will this be another example of an empty building bringing no taxes to the community?" Yes, it'll look good, but what will it do for the economy of the area?
We have people in political offices who have worked extremely hard promoting this area and trying to make this area look good in the eyes of the public. Some have worked hard to help boost the economy by proposing the necessary consolidation of school districts, and I commend them for their efforts, but in other areas, it seems, again, we want to look good, and seem to just settle for good.
J. Paul Lombardo
Each year Jamestown sponsors the Lucy Festival, in honor of one of our most famous past citizens, Lucille Ball. We've opened the Lucy-Desi Museum, an outstanding asset to the community. I'm proud to be able to lay claim to being from the same hometown as Lucille Ball. I feel the same about Robert H. Jackson growing up in this area. I'm proud their names have been approved to be hung on two bridges in our area. It makes our area look good.
I think the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena is an amazing facility, though it's my understanding it's becoming hard to bring in users to help offset the costs of operating that amazing facility. It's a facility that looks good in our community.
Are we settling for good? I've compiled a book of sayings which I've used in my teaching, coaching and parenting experiences. One of those sayings is, "Strive for Perfection to Reach Excellence." Another is, "Good, better, best never should you rest until your good becomes your better, and your better is your best." Still another is, "Good is the enemy of best." All three convey the same message.
It's good we have people working to make things good, and I know the effort has been good in doing this. I applaud that effort. It's good that our area's appearance is looking good. It's good that we'll make the Railroad Station look good, but again, those things are only good, just as the naming of two bridges after local celebrities is good, but our area needs to go beyond good, get better and strive for the best.
Recently, our son left to begin his career at the Chesterfield County Virginia Police Academy. On his first day, he and seven other young men from Western New York joined the total group of 37 to start their training for that academy, where all candidates have been guaranteed jobs upon completion of training. All candidates are receiving pay with benefits as they go through said academy.
I can't speak for all the candidates from Western New York, but I know my son did pass tests for the Buffalo PD, and Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department before getting the invitation in Virginia. After going through Virginia's year-long process of physical and written tests, multiple interviews, multiple ride-a-longs, physical and psychiatric examinations, and receiving the invitation to this academy, he received a letter from Chautauqua County inviting him to go through the process here and that a full-time job would be available upon completion.
I know one young man who has completed Chautauqua County's Academy and is still without a position. Those young men from Western New York took the "bird in the hand" over whatever possibility they may have had of "two in the bush." They couldn't take the chance of losing a sure thing.
My point is that we're losing our future to other states. We're losing many young people who could/would possibly be taxpayers, home/business owners, and area shoppers. I know there's concern by elected officials, and I commend that concern, but perhaps some of the time and efforts used to spruce up empty storefronts and train stations, could/should be better spent passionately trying to keep people in the area through more jobs which might also possibly reduce public assistance, possibly creating better economy for the area. Yes, it's easier said than done, but somehow it needs to be done. If it is, it just might take our "good," make it "better" and push us closer to our "best."