In the annals of bad ideas...

We’re going to move The Evening Sun’s offices. In the last two decades, we’ve moved our editorial and advertising offices three times – from our own building on Hale Street to an upstairs suite at the Pennysaver on Lackawanna Ave. to our present home just across the parking lot. We’ve been here, the former home of Kelly Services, for about oh, I don’t know ... five years? Time for a change. I mean ... consolidation. Yeah, that’s it. We’re consolidating.

It’s not that we’ve outgrown our current space. In fact, times are tougher than they were five years ago and business isn’t as good as it once was. We put a lot of money into getting these offices up to par the last time we moved, but hey, we got five years out of it – what more do you want? Besides, most of the people involved in that decision are out of office. I mean left the company. The cost of moving and spiffing up our new offices? Heck, we’re just going to pass it off on to you by raising taxes. I mean subscription rates.

Yeah and even though I’ve pretty much made up my mind about moving, I’d like your input. You can all write letters and call in and tell me what a bad idea it is and then I’ll ... well, I’ll thank you for your comments and then go ahead and do what I want anyway.



So we’re moving to a high-rise penthouse suite in ... Vegas. Yeah, Vegas. That way I can write off my last vacation as “location scouting.” Sure, I know that’s not the most convenient place for Chenango County’s Hometown Daily Newspaper to be headquartered, and it might make doing business with us a little difficult, but give me a minute and I’ll try to justify it. Consolidation! Yeah, I keep forgetting. We’re consolidating. And that’s a good thing, right?

(Removes tongue from cheek ...)

Lord love a duck, City of Norwich. In the annals I like to call “Bad Ideas: Chenango County, 1990-Present,” this one ranks right up there. Moving city hall’s offices from the train depot to the third floor of the firehouse, that is.

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I got the grand tour of the newly-renovated former O&W train depot, and wrote about how magnificent it was (always been a big fan of restoring historic structures rather than demolishing them, Rite Aid) on this very page. Ohhh, wait ... that’s because it wasn’t that long ago! I find it hard to believe that the time, energy and money we invested in refurbishing the depot didn’t even last us 10 years.

Consolidation. Nice try. I do love the concept, but applying it in this sense is a stretch. Yes, selling the depot and moving into the fire station would be one less municipal building and one more on the tax rolls, but that presupposes there would be a buyer for the depot. It would, as has been speculated, make a great restaurant. For someone with a million dollars to throw around. The depot has character and charm in abundance, but it also has a $150,000-plus leaky roof that’s been highly publicized (oops!) and apparently shamefully neglected over the past 10 years. And it’s landlocked between a defunct railroad and the aforementioned firehouse. Seriously, who’s going to buy that?

I also find it hard to believe that we need more space, or different space. I haven’t been a frequent visitor to City Hall, but I’m skeptical that its layout or configuration hinders the efficiency of city government. And if it does, well, deal with it. Unless we’re planning on adding employees (and again, we should be headed in the opposite direction), why do we suddenly need the vast expanse of the third floor of the fire station?

Third floor. That’s perhaps the silliest part of all of this. Sure, we’ve clearly got some unused space in the fire station, but is this in any way a logical spot for city government, offices that must be accessible to the taxpayers who support it? I don’t care how many signs you put up, how good the stairs are for you, or how easy the elevator is to get to, the third floor of any building is the worst possible place to put municipal offices. And don’t even get me started about the parking and the fire trucks ...

Bad idea. Don’t do it. It wasn’t all that long ago that you yourselves, Common Council, decided against pursuing it. How did it get back on the table? My theory: Public entities (and this includes the county, towns, villages and schools) don’t feel they’re doing anything useful unless they’re building something or tearing something down. That’s not necessarily progress, folks. Given the current state of the economy in Chenango County, I wouldn’t mind seeing a moratorium on public building projects of any kind. Let’s support the private sector in those endeavors instead, and seek to streamline – and yes, consolidate – the public sector. Shuffling city offices at this point is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. And we all know how that went down.

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