Editorial: Congratulations to Auburn

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As Cortland was coming into its own with the founding of what would become SUNY Cortland a century and a half ago — before the first Brockway wagon or typewriter was made here to create our first community identity — the high and mighty of New York’s upper crust found the Finger Lakes.
At the northern tip of each major lake, tidy, upscale communities saw lakeside mansions erected and outside wealth brought in on which to build their futures: Skaneateles at Skaneateles Lake; Auburn at Owasco Lake, Seneca Falls at Cayuga Lake; Geneva at Seneca Lake and Canandaigua at Canandaigua Lake.
Some remain idyllic little communities with nice restaurants and beautiful views — vibrant, cool. Others saw a heyday come and go, such as Auburn.
On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would invest $10 million to revitalize Auburn through the third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Good for Auburn.
Auburn lost to Cortland in the second round of grants, and to Oswego in the first. But its need was no less.
Now it will go through the monthslong process that Cortland just completed of winnowing a wish list of projects down to a final set to send to the state, which will decide the winners.
Some ideas, no doubt, will leave people wondering just how it would revitalize that city, like $1.2 million Auburn’s asking to build a new public safety facility. Others are insightful applications of money to create a community, like projects to expand the Auburn Public Theater, create an arts campus, a culinary center at Cayuga Community College and a shuttle, called Seward’s Trolley, between Auburn’s historic and cultural sites. Some sound familiar, like a streetscape project and renovations to historic buildings.
Cortland needs to pay attention to this, and to the other DRI communities.
Getting the money was a competition, a ball the state made communities chase so their power brokers and visionaries could learn to work together. But now that the money is awarded, Cortland can and should feel free to see what other good ideas have been suggested, then pursue them through other means.
Understand, the $10 million program isn’t an end; it’s a start. It’s meant to encourage further investment over the coming years and decades. It’s meant to rebuild a small city into a hip place where people will want to spend their lives — where investors will want to plant their dollars and reap a dream.
So if Cortland can crib a good idea or two from someone else, do it. What’s important is that it have a vision for the community a generation from now.

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