Miracle in Armory Square

OK, so maybe we’re so down that we’re seeing “miracles” everywhere, but I wasn’t the only one pleasantly surprised by Joanie Mahoney’s abruptly announced decision to flush the Armory Square sewage treatment plant, which hit the news on Saturday. A rare headline that makes you feel like it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood and that maybe wonderful things can happen after all. More reaction at Sean Kirst’s blog.

Would the Midland sewage plant (and the uprooting of an entire neighborhood) have been similarly stopped if Mahoney had been county exec when the decision was made? Well, I wouldn’t go that far with the optimism over a new vision for Central New York. One can retroactively, uselessly wish that that would have happened, but we’ll never know.

The Armory Square news was a surprise, but in a way, not a surprise. In covering the NYRI controversy, I once wildly speculated that New York Republicans, desperately searching for political traction, might delve deeper into green issues that the hidebound New York Democratic establishment wouldn’t touch. True, it’s been a fad for upstate Republicans to greenwash everything they do these days — every big groundbreaking involves the cutting of a green ribbon, and every tax break is written down in the ledgers in emerald ink. But there’s been less enthusiasm for allowing scientists and environmentalists to say anything. I think Mahoney really does care about doing things differently, but tying green innovation to the concerns of small business owners (bars and shops in Armory Square) also could be a way of getting back to small-business-friendly Republican values with a new twist.

Will other Republicans get on board, or will Mahoney be painted as a lone ranger? Joanie, don’t look back – “something may be gaining on you.”

3 thoughts on “Miracle in Armory Square

  1. JS

    Seriously…the pushback from republicans has to be coming. I wonder if they think they’re watching her dig her own hole and waiting for the right moment…

    Either way, it can’t be disputed that she is showing true leadership here, consulting with people other than internal staff and making decisions that some will not understand.

    I’m with you NYCO…the greenwash is tiring and frustrating. Probably 80% of what I read I would classify as of no substance or assistance to the immensity of social and ecological issues we have created for ourselves.

    But as Joannie is seeing, green is profitable, beautiful and effective. Not only is she preserving the future of Armory Square (think in 30 to 50 years, if the City grows as some would guess, with our fantastic natural capital (clean water, air, etc.)), she’s avoiding ongoing maintenance costs that are one-payment and out of the community, beautifying neighborhoods, creating entreprenurial opportunities for local residents, marketing the area as innovative (which to me isn’t such a benefit….), etc.

    The benefits are multi-dimensional and many…

  2. Phil

    Joanie should be commended for her actions. She is coming from a strong position–a very large electoral victory gained with little to no support from the bigwigs of her party. She knows she has a honeymoon with the people and freedom from the bean
    counters. She’s making the best of her time.

    Of course, as I said over at Sean’s blog–I’m still bummed that our community worked so hard to fight the Midland plant and have been proven 100% correct, the alternative community plan was cleaner, cheaper and more equitable: BUT WE STILL LOST. As with all our tussles with the County, the end result seems to be shit for the southside, literally.

    As for wondering if Joanie would have opposed Midland if she had become County Exec a term earlier, she opposed it strongly on the Common Council and understood the neighbors arguments then. Of course, would Joanie have even been in a position to make such a strong run a few years ago? It was her tight mayoral race with Driscoll that gave her credibility and extensive name recognition as someone other than Bernie’s daughter. As my mother always said: “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

  3. JS

    I agree Phil, and that just stinks.

    Maybe there’s still something to salvage there? At the least, maybe a program of do-it-yourself rain gardens, rain barrels and cisterns…as a clear message to Pirro of “thanks but we didn’t need your sewage plant anyway”. Might be a powerful message to send. If you’d like some resources, let me know.

    Personally I think instead of the Oncenter in Pirro’s name, it really should have been the “Nick Pirro Midland Treatment Facility”, given his myopic forcefulness about the issue.

    But regardless, with Pirro as a main force behind Destiny, I think he might have (sadly) sealed the fate of the same conference center that bears his name.

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