With the closing of the YMCA in Hagaman and recent talk of the siting for the proposed recreational center, it occurred to me that a long running pattern — a disastrous one– just might continue.
The YMCA was initially sited near downtown Amsterdam and as such provided some much needed density to the city. The reasons for moving it to Hagaman are unclear and unproven to me but suffice it to say, that the move vacated more of the already vacated core of the city. And it’s that vacating core that lies at the heart of the city’s problems. And what causes that cycle of the ever dwindling core is the lack of growth and lack of development paired with the belief that you fight blight by tearing things down, never building things up.
My concern with the Rec Center centers on the site selection process and its consideration for impact on building the city’s core versus hollowing it out. I’m not advocating for or against a specific site necessarily but it seems crucial to the rec center’s success and the city’s success that the site builds the city’s core versus not. For that reason, I think the site selection should be well considered and thought through as this potentially is a multi-million dollar development project and as such, it’s important to get the siting right — from the rec center perspective and from the city’s perspective.
I harp all the time on how the real problem in the city is not blight or high taxes or whatever is the lament du jour — it’s fundamentally the lack of investment and growth and belief and vision in the city– the rec center might be a way to signal a turn into a better direction toward building density and core in the city versus just another reason to hollow it out and sprawl.