Amsterdam residents are invited to attend a “pop-up” event this Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge.
The idea behind the event is to encourage residents and business owners and others to learn about and share ideas with planners and city officials for establishing redevelopment priorities for the Mohawk River and Chuctanunda Creek areas.
Enjoy an evening on the waterfront while sharing your thoughts on how to revitalize that very same waterfront.
It’s a neat little approach that Amsterdam officials and representatives from Laberge Group have come up with to entice citizens into sharing their thoughts on a new Local Waterfront Revitalization Program plan.
What better way to put citizens in the mindset of developing the waterfront than by holding an unofficial gathering on the spot where their ideas may come to life?
Who knows what ideas you might come up with as you’re standing on or near the bridge, watching the river flow by and scanning the hillside for potential sites for development and environmental protection.
But be aware that pop-up events like these are designed to be informal gatherings. They are not government meetings, which require legal public notification and distribution of documents and on-the-record discussions among public officials.
While this is a good opportunity for the public to become familiar with the redevelopment efforts, it’s no substitute for formal government public hearings on this important plan — during which comments, questions and concerns from the public, public officials and city contractors are recorded and made available to everyone in the city.
What we’re saying is that if you’re truly interested in the development of the waterfront areas and their role in the economic future of the city, and if this event piques your interest, then this pop-up event can’t be the first and only gathering you attend on the subject.
If you have ideas, or if you have concerns about the direction this might be taking, then you need to share those with your elected officials at official public hearings and regular government meetings that you attend in person or online. You need to submit your comments in writing when the time comes so they can be included in the official record.
You need to follow up by attending future meetings as the plans are modified and refined and finalized, and as draft reports are formulated and prepared.
If your thought is to just hang out by the bridge on Thursday and peruse the plan, but do nothing else as the plan moves ahead, then you might as well stay home. Because citizens who care about the waterfront and the long-term development need to be there all along when the real work is getting done and the real decisions are being made.
By all means, attend Thursday’s pop-up event. Get some information and let your imagination and your ideas run wild.
Then keep your eye on the formal government events surrounding the project, when your input will matter in a tangible way.