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Inching to Schenectady

Even as I make progress in inching my way toward Schenectady (see this space, Monday, July 17: New Heights, New Horizons: Another corner to be turned), each day brings new challenges.

Roseanne Roseannadanna, a recurring “Saturday Night Live” (now “SNL”) character created by the late Gilda Radner, may have said it best: It’s always something.

Last Wednesday, for example, while catching up with laundry after work, my aging clothes washer surrendered in mid-cycle. After shopping the next day for a new one, my car, albeit used, would go only in reverse. I got to balance my checkbook while waiting for the tow truck -– and solidified plans to power wash my house the next day, as suggested by the realtor for better curb appeal.

Earlier today, I dropped off a $400 deposit toward the replacement of a 60 x 68-inch insulated “picture” window. Still not knowing how, the concentrated stream from the power-washer broke the seal and enabled water to flow between the large panes of glass overlooking the lake. Before leaving for work, I hired someone to meet the workers who will assess the full damage and set up an appointment to replace the window.

I try to put all this in perspective -– without thinking too much -– as I drive from Richmondville to Schenectady. I mutter notes to self into my tape recorder between sips of milked, artificially sweetened iced coffee with a double shot of espresso. I know that after a few minutes, a few dozen email messages, a team meeting and a dash of returned calls, I will leave work and head to the Schenectady Farmer’s Market at City Hall. With an eye on the time, I then will sit and relax for a few minutes at the spirit-lifting Jazz on Jay, free lunchtime music series.

Each week this summer I have tried to make an appearance at both: first, stopping at the market to select something both fresh and natural for lunch and then continue on to select a seat at the jazz event. I have seen many of the musicians at former Art Night at Proctors presentations. In fact, I spend most of my Art Night time sitting in front of them in Proctors Robb Alley. They are uniformly excellent and represent some of
the finest musical talent in the Capital Region -– and even the Northeast.

As I approach the chairs loosely assembled on Jay Street, a group of tourists asks “where’s the concert?” Another group asks about the market. As former concierge of Howe Caverns information booth, I oblige both by pointing and a smile.

I find a seat and look around. I wonder why more people who live in the Capital Region, and especially in Schenectady, do not attend these always professional, involuntary foot-tapping, head-swaying sessions. The area is clean, inviting, and informal. One can bring or purchase lunch to enjoy while listening. The area is handicapped accessible. A puzzle.

Checking my watch, I start back to work — but not before running into Books and Pieces secondhand bookshop at 173 Jay. A purchase of two books leads to a short conversation with owner George Morris. He, too, has noted the modest crowds for such an inviting event. He suggests it may be the construction under way at State Street and Jay. “I think when it is completed, the resurgence of this area will continue,” he says.

The building to which he refers is directly across the street from Proctors. We watch its progress from staff meetings in the boardroom that overlooks the workers and the site.

This initiative, when coupled with the recent sale of Key Bank’s State Street facility to Proctors, the arrival of the NBT Financial Center and branch, the opening of SEFCU, the debut of a beautifully appointed and spacious YMCA and the expansion of CVS in the same complex – coupled with last month’s opening of the Price Chopper/Golub Corporation’s new headquarters building nearby — are sure to bring a flood of new people and fresh energy and ideas to the area.

These things are more important to me now than ever. Each week that I get closer to putting my house on the market, I also get closer to seeking future asylum in my yet-to-be-found Schenectady residence. Will it be in the heart of downtown? The Stockade? On Upper Union? Time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my eyes as wide open as my checkbook allows as I approach what may be the end of an era for me, and the start of an unfolding epic in Schenectady.

Rather than wait, I intend to play a pro-active part in the unfolding of the new Schenectady. Care to join me?

Writer-editor-publicist Thom O’Connor is president of Thom O’Connor Marketing Communications, Inc., and Creative Solutions. After living and working in the New York City area for many years, he resides in Richmondville –- for now.


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