We are not the only ones with the habit of making New Year’s resolutions at the turn of each calendar year. No, January marks that time of season when we hear from our elected officials on the state of our community; what challenges lie ahead, and what ideas they have to see to a prosperous year.
The popular topic at hand within our hometowns focuses on economic growth. Nothing passes the old-fashioned eye test better than seeing new construction pop-up in areas long neglected or under-utilized. You ask about progress, the next person only has to point to earth moving equipment down the road.
In Colonie, we’re seeing progress being made along Albany-Shaker Road. The old Engle Farm will soon be converted to commercial property, bringing more business, jobs and commerce near Albany International Airport. Even the airport is getting in on the act, expanding our choices in flights with the introduction of JetBlue last month, and the return of UnitedExpress underway – the latter of which promises to more than 100 high paying jobs to the Capital District alone.
How one can interpret residential trends depends on perspective. Experts say young Millennials are flocking to the urban locales of downtown Troy, Schenectady and Albany in search of favorable rent and entertainment a mere walk away. However, once those hipsters turn to moms and dads, they are swiftly lured to the surrounding school districts in the suburbs. Either number is going up. Ask any of our school districts in Colonie, Bethlehem or Guilderland.
Growth is good. It helps bring in the taxes, lowers or stabilizes our collective tax burden. But, that growth adds stress to our infrastructure and town services. Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan has the town on task, and she will remind you that the town has been addressing infrastructure upgrades for the past several years. It may not pass the good ol’ eye test mentioned before, but in Colonie, it’s a work in progress that’s not apparent when also dealing with Clifton Park and Malta traffic, too.
Residents of Bethlehem have long been happy with their connection to the land. Five minutes away from downtown, another five minutes away from the country. Last October, we heard from town board hopefuls about maintaining the open space that remains in town. These past twenty years have seen several farms shutdown, giving way to subdivisions and new residents.
It’s a delicate balance juggling the need to promote growth without destroying the alluring open spaces of our suburbs. Nonetheless, all of us live here for the purpose of getting away from the city, enjoying the quiet calm of the country and providing a safe haven for our children. Let’s keep that in the forefront of the discussion every year.