On any given day in CNY there is reason to believe and a reason to despair. A case in point is the formation of a citizens’ preservation group that is fighting to save The Sherburne Inn, the building that dominates the four corners in the Chenango County village of Sherburne.
Apparently a chain operation was ready to demolish the historic structure, which dates back to 1917 and most recently was known at the Bullthistle Inn, and put up a gas station and convenience store. Residents said, whoa. The owner, Jim Webb, gave the preservation group a chance to meet his asking price, which the group did. Closing on the property is expected any day.
Save the Sherburne Inn Restoration Project Inc. (SSIRP) has a vision for the building that includes a restaurant and two bars, overnight accommodations, event space, a gift shop, fitness center, and bakery.
It’s ambitious, and the business plan is still being finalized. But it’s exactly the kind of determination and effort our region needs to cultivate the past as we look toward the future. These unique buildings won’t ever be built again; they deserve a second and third chance to evoke that invaluable sense of place that makes CNY such an interesting place to live.
I learned of this effort through a postcard I received in the mail the other day. SSIRP has a website, and is seeking financial assistance and volunteers to help with the project. My check is in the mail, and I hope you’ll consider a contribution, too.
Part two of my case in point is a sad reminder of how many CNY residents are forced to move from the area because of the lack of jobs and any hint of economic progress.
I volunteered to be a parade marshal during Utica’s St. Patrick’s Day parade a few weekends ago. My “team captain” Mike has been a volunteer for several years, and is exactly the kind of person we need in this area. Folks who give back, who spend time trying to improve the community. But Mike told me this would be his last year at the parade; he and his wife are leaving to join other CNY expatriates in North Carolina.
The reason? They can’t find meaningful jobs in an area he said was “dying.” He obviously would stay if there was a chance to improve their lives and find new job opportunities. But instead they will join the other upstate New Yorkers forced to move to where the jobs are, forced to leave family and friends, forced to leave communities that need their commitment and volunteer spirit.
The CNY diaspora grows. State government fiddles.