Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Won't you be my neighbor...

This was a post I submitted to my local neighborhood association's e-mail group on October 11, 2010:
"I know I am severely new to this and have mentioned the following ideas before but I am now looking for some guidance because I want to take a more active role in Eastwood, preserving it as well as "cleaning it up" so to speak. My husband and I are a young couple, no kids (unless you count our very furry German Shepherds). We moved to Eastwood in February, 2009 and love living here. We are, of course, as concerned as the rest of you about the direction Eastwood could be heading in long term. My dad grew up right here in Eastwood and loved his childhood. Gone with the Wind was the first movie in color that my dad saw at the Palace Theater and so many years later it is still standing and working to be better than ever! We would love to get to know more of our neighbors but with work, life etc. it can be difficult as you all know. 

Now, I know that my ideas may sound naive but they are shared with the best intentions and we are looking for some honest opinions and feedback as to how to get them off the ground. What we would love to see along James street is a revival. POMCO began to renovate space and although their space may not be useful to many of us, boy did it increase the aesthetic value of a few blocks. Walgreens moved in and although it may not have been a first choice for many, it has really prettied up the corner and they have been doing well! I also know that Cafe Kubal has brought in some good business down towards Thompson and of course Dunkin Donuts and Papa Johns are not the MOST beautiful businesses on the corner of Midler but they have made an effort to step up their appearance and they serve a general purpose. 

Now, I am not a BOBO (bohemian bourgeois) by nature but what I believe we need is a micture of old and new to really make this neighborhood more sustainable. I have previously mentioned a dog park as a way to bring people together but I really don't know where to start, so if you have ideas please send them my way. We drive out to Liverpool to socialize our puppy and as much as I love to visit where I grew up, I would rather get to know the great people of Eastwood. To preserve the old feeling too, I fully believe we need a bakery or Patisserie (we lived by one in Brooklyn that had great baked goods and gelatto in the summers) along James in any one of the multiply abandoned spaces. This would bring in some more neighborhood foot traffic (and nothing against the Bakeries in the area, but James Street needs some good foot traffic). 

Now, I don't know anyone currently that needs a space but we are all our best advertisements for the area. My biggest idea may seem highly controversial and Yuppie of me, but I honestly believe it would bring in the clientele we NEED more of in Eastwood. Next to Kimberly's there is a space (also next to Subway) and next to Bank of American there is a space...either of which would be perfect for a Starbucks. Now, I know what you are thinking. We already have a Dunkin Donuts and Cafe Kubal (but we have spaces on the other end of James by Walgreens and the book stores that would be perfect for another gathering location--more caffeine never hurt, am I right?) and we NEED more mom and pop family businesses and I agree, but if we infuse those businesses with more "uppercrust" places like Starbucks, we get a very cool fusion of old and new, while bringing in LOTS of business type clients coming and going from work, looking to pick up their favorite Starbucks coffee and fresh baked breads; their favorite Burger from Laci's and an old book from either side of the street. The working class and the average Joe love a good book, a strong coffee and a comfortable place to drink/eat and be merry with colleagues/friends that also includes open mic nights and WiFi (the Starbucks in Liverpool does both and it brings in a great crowd while getting some new talent known in the process---which of course could then hook up with the Palace for some goold old fashioned networking). 

Like, I said, maybe I am young and stupid but the new thing to keep neighborhoods alive seems to be a fusion of old and new (or at least an old feeling with some new bells and whistles) and I really believe Eastwood could really thrive again if we all spread the word and maybe purposefully "bump" into some friends or strangers that have some developing money to put into our neighborhood. Just some thoughts, take them or leave them OR let me know what my next steps would be to be heard as an advocate for our village within the city. Thanks for reading!"

I fully believe this is possible! It would be wonderful to see a great part of the city of Syracuse revived a bit more so young couples/families would appreciate what the city of Syracuse has to offer and so we wouldn't feel so pressured to move back to the 'burbs. This city has a lot to offer if we could renovate some spaces, take out some "trash" and infuse some old and new mindsets. Keeping an open mind . . .and a hopeful heart for this part of the city I call home.

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