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Johnstown to review long-term plan

October 7, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The city Planning Board will meet Nov. 6 to review and revisit the city's 2008 Comprehensive Plan after a recommendation to do so by new member Lori Salamack.

A review of the plan may be partially funded by the city, the mayor said, and officials say the work may dovetail nicely with an area Downtown Revitalization Symposium planned for Dec. 6.

The Planning Board agreed Tuesday to conduct the upcoming work session at City Hall after Salamack said she reviewed the document. It was developed over several months by local volunteers as a blueprint for the city's future. The plan was eventually approved by the Common Council in February 2008.

Salamack noted Chapter 6 of the plan relates to Johnstown's Central Business District and states the Planning Board "should develop a vision/strategic plan" for the district.

"If this is something the council felt the city Planning Board should take up, I felt we should at least take a look at it," Salamack said.

She said a review of the 57-page Comprehensive Plan also could be done in conjunction with the city's 2013 budget process, which is ongoing this fall. But she said revisiting the plan could also be done through an annual review of the document to possibly "refine the language."

Board Chairman Peter K. Smith, who has been on the board for many years, noted the board as a volunteer entity has never used a professional consultant in working on a plan. He said the board doesn't have the financial resources to do that.

But Mayor Sarah Slingerland said the city is engaged in formulating its 2013 city budget, and she would be willing to take into account allocating professional service funds needed for a review of the Comprehensive Plan.

"I can ask the council to take it under consideration," the mayor said. "I have no idea how much [could be earmarked]."

City Attorney Susan Palmer Johnson said the city should do an annual review of the Comprehensive Plan and discuss possible further action.

"I think a review is in order," Johnson said.

Salamack said she hasn't had an opportunity yet to formulate decisive opinions on the plan, but she at least wanted to address a review.

"I don't come to the table with any answers," she said.

The goal of the plan includes: strengthening the city's Central Business District, developing a new Center City Park; protecting, preserving and promoting the city's history and heritage; promoting a variety of affordable housing choices; and diversifying and strengthening the city's economy by attracting new, clean businesses to the city. The plan can be found on the city's website:?www.cityofjohnstown-ny.com.

Salamack said the board's review is also consistent with a planned upcoming event related to the cities of Johnstown, Gloversville and Amsterdam. Business and economic development leaders from Fulton and Montgomery counties are looking to rejuvenate the region with a Downtown Revitalization Symposium set for Dec. 6 at the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services center.

Officials have said the hope for the symposium, at a minimum, is to develop ways to revitalize the Glove Cities in Fulton County and Amsterdam in Montgomery County.

Salamack said the Planning Board can encourage public participation and bring forth strategies such as those related to grant applications and working with property owners.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter said she has reached out to organizers of the symposium, and Johnstown city officials will be invited.

Smith said groups such as the Planning Board have been "noticeably absent" from such events in the past because they have not been invited.

Slingerland said she was happy the Planning Board is revisiting the Comprehensive Plan because it is a "living, breathing document" to guide the city's future.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at johnstown@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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