4 thoughts on “Having a Binghamton moment

  1. honkcronk

    reat commentary on my adopted town. I have lived in Binghamton for 32 years which may not count as much as those who have lived in the area longer.

    The students do most of the interesting stuff in this town. You have some of the best highlights in your article. The commentators do not offer much except the tired old spiedie (or mispelled spiedy). Who cares about what we eat.

    There is another interesting story about Binghamton that is worth investigating…. the Binghamton area is now called Greater Binghamton. I have to keep up with the current vernacular.

    When IBM was selling the IBM Country Club (Old Homestead and a historical part of IBM and Thomas Watson home)IBM was willing to: 1. cut down all the trees to the highest bidder and 2. sell the property to any home builder to subdivide (assuming this was after the trees were gone).

    The IBM Glen is one of the most beautiful places in the Binghamton area. About 150+ acres are now a preserve and the rest is being developed for town houses and such.

    But that 150+ acres was almost not preserved. A group of concerned community people and students worked very hard to preserve the entire acreage (I think it was 300+ acres). They got absolutely nowhere doing this with the local IBM management and the local towns. The story goes (and maybe some of it is mythology) that a group of students and faculty (those community activists are part of this group) went to a stockholders meeting in Manhattan. They had enough stock to get in and maybe they let some public in with stockholders. And there are lots of IBM stockholders in Binghamton. Oops, I mean Greater Binghamton area.

    When the President of the IBM Corp gives his speech he is shouted down — noise abounds. The group is threatened with arrest. What is the problem? The students shout out — save the IBM Glen. They are threatened with arrest.

    The myth is the rest of the corporation did not understand the area was to be clear cutted and subdivided. (Is that really possible, no one knows).

    But the clear cutting of the forest is stopped and some of the property is donated to a non-profit group This is a very shortened version of how the property was finally transferred to a non-profit group (Waterman Conversation, Appalachin, NY)

    The mythology (or truth) about Gov. Rockefeller also revolved around Binghamton University. The students went to the Binghamton Airport when Rocky was arriving (from somewhere that required a plane rather than a car). They were protesting some issue that I can’t remember (maybe not resolved – tuition raises being excessive for low income students).

    Rockefeller prided himself personally for the influx of NY state money into the university system. In fact, Binghamton University was one of the campuses he was personally proud of supporting in Albany.

    When the students were chanting and being loud at the airport, he got very pissed off. And he gave them the finger. It was pure instinct. What is with you students that I supported by building up your university with NY state dollars??? The sentiment is understood with this background.

    That is how I remember it. It could be myth is more interesting than fact? Probably.

  2. Robinia

    honkcronk: your stories are pretty in-sync with what I have been able to find out as a non-native with an interest in the area. The “greater Binghamton” idea was to stop the various municipalities in the area from canablizing one another’s jobs and calling it job creation/economic development. Only sorta works– “Greater Binghamton Coalition” has one employee, I believe. The various parochial econ dev groups all still go to work every day (supposedly).

    As for the students in Bing leading the way– couldn’t agree more. The University’s new building downtown is a real effort by the Univesity to try to integrate better into the urban core. Interesting factoid: 60% of the 2006 freshman class at Binghamton University came from Downstate NY (NY metro area and Long Island).

  3. Ellen

    Honkcronk: Welcome back, you’ve been missed.

    Robinia: Can you go into more detail about the “Greater Binghamton” concept?

  4. Robinia

    Sure. The link is: http://www.greaterbinghamton.com/ Take the link in the paragraph about “local economic development” and you get the whole laundry-list of econ dev orgs in Greater Binghamton (who all have staff, too).

    The analog for the Syracse area is the Metropolitan Development Association, MDA, which has a regional (Syracuse and Central NY) view of econ dev. Of course, they are beefier in terms of staff and budget than Greater Binghamton. See http://www.mda-cny.com/?ID=MDAAboutUsMission

    These orgs are private, not governmental, but do get lots of goodies from government (public-private partnership pros). The Bing version operates out of the Chamber of Commerce. Ever take a look at how many Chambers of Commerces get member items on an average NYS budget year? I always joke about the money funding their annual lobbying trips…. a NYS industry at work (product=dysfunctional hot air– can’t eat it, but, it may melt the snow in your driveway). If you doubt my thesis, check out the “programs” tab of the Greater Bing Chamber, here: http://www.greaterbinghamtonchamber.com/ — there is just one program. Not that they got a member item this year, that I know of.

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