"Local talent, local knowledge and our strong sense of the genuine is what will succeed. We lack no talent, we have the skill, we have the visionaries right here and the community has a plan and has had one for years," said Bruce Fisher (photo right), one of the organizers of the event.
"If you're tough enough to be here today, you're tough enough to get the waterfront you deserve," Canal Side Community Alliance member Sam Magavern told the assembled. Sam and Bruce were just two of the speakers that orated today. And many others, including Tim Tielman, Micaela Shapiro-Shellaby and Mark Goldman, delivered a similar message as the ECHDC stands at the precipice of approving a plan that is based on the whole 'big box', Bass Pro, idea, but without the commitment of either or any.
"We don't want Bass Pro. We don't want big box," said Tim Tielman. "Small is beautiful."
One of the primary purposes of yesterday's rally was to get this message out there - that development for development's sake could do more harm than good, especially when there's already an abundance of vacancy - retail, restaurant, and parking - in the downtown corridor. So, step back and think about the long-term ramifications of the decisions about to be made.
Despite the cold, there was a party like ambiance and the attendees got their toes tappin' as they were entertained by the duo of Sarah Rose and Ian Belknap of the Storyville Players. Following them were the Canal Street String Players (photo) who sang a traditional Erie Canal ditty. The afternoon was rounded out by the fiery antics and acrobatics of the flame-flinging duo of Pyromancy. And all this liveliness was ably fueled by an abundance of goodwill and the constant flow of goodies, including Aztec Cocoa, from the mobile kitchen of Lloyd The Taco Truck.
But it was the message that took center stage - don't stop the development and the progress on the waterfront. Just slow down and do it right. This is OUR waterfront! Make it someplace that WE want to go. Not someplace that has already been done.
The ECHDC plans to vote on the pending plans during a public meeting on Monday, November 29th at 2:00 pm at their offices at 95 Perry Street. All are encouraged to attend.