GLOVERSVILLE – A member of the New York Innovative Communities Network, which spent two days this week in the city, made a remark about Gloversville Friday that brought a big smile to Mayor Dayton King’s face.
“I’ve fallen in love with the place,” said Robert Koehler of Glen Cove, Nassau County, on Long Island.
Koehler and his wife – Glen Cove Downtown BID Executive Director Francine Koehler – attended a roundtable discussion Friday at the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce office that capped off the network’s conference.
The network – formerly known as the New York State Urban Council – had 50 of its professional members attend its quarterly meeting Thursday and Friday in downtown Gloversville.
The group stayed at local motels, toured local sites, ate local food and talked with local residents.
The informal postscript roundtable discussion revealed the network’s event was successful and statewide members came away with a positive impression of the city.
Network board President Anthony Capece of Albany called venues such as the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market and the Eccentric Club – “grand.”
“You’ve got some really great things downtown,” Capece said. “I can see this becoming very residential [and] dense in the next five to 10 years.”
He said other cities would “kill” to have a downtown like Gloversville’s with a jewelry store, theater and a store such as the cooperative market.
“Everything was very good,” Robert Koehler said. “You always learn something. You just have to have an open mind. You’ve got to talk to different people.”
He enjoyed seeing the variety of architecture displayed at various venues in the city, such as the Gloversville Public Library and the Glove Performing Arts Center.
Koehler said the problems of an area can’t be worked out – or the quality of life of a city get better – unless it involves a group effort.
“Everybody’s got to work together,” he said.
His wife, Francine, said that BIDs, or Business Improvement Districts, can work closely with new businesses on security issues. She said downtown areas can be monitored closely by local police departments
“We’re trying to educate the public,” Capece said.
The subject of people begging for money in downtowns was also discussed. Capece suggested people approached for money could donate to food shelters instead.
“Give money to the people who are actually helping these people,” he said.
Ron Peters, president/CEO of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, said he didn’t realize that Gloversville had such a “good system in place” with cameras downtown.
Gloversville 3rd Ward Councilman Vincent DeSantis said city police were helpful during the network’s walking tour Thursday.
“Everywhere we were, there were two police officers watching us from a distance,” he said. “It was unsolicited.”
Francine Koehler also suggested local businesses can be taught how to market themselves better on social media.
DeSantis, a member of the Gloversville BID, described social media as “important” and “powerful.” The councilman also mentioned that people who live downtown tend to spend more downtown.
“You have to build residential density downtown,” DeSantis said. “It seems like that’s one of the things that has to be one of the top priorities.”
DeSantis said cities have to “incentivize” business owners, especially young ones. He said a fund should be developed to allow entrepreneurs to “have the confidence to invest in a variety of opportunity downtown.”
City Attorney Anthony Casale alluded to “naysayers” in any community who get the final word over those who are silently positive about the community.
“You have to persevere through that,” Casale said.