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New York State Senator Jeremy Cooney Makes Regener8 Stop In Plattsburgh

   View of Plattsburgh from Cumberland Bay with City Hall and Macdonough Monument to the right
Pat Bradley
View of Plattsburgh from Cumberland Bay with City Hall and Macdonough Monument to the right

Earlier this year, the New York state Senate Cities 2 Committee was formed, with Rochester Democrat Jeremy Cooney its first chair. He is in the midst of touring the eight largest cities in the state outside of New York City and visited Plattsburgh this week.

Democrat Jeremy Cooney of the 56th district has launched what he is calling the Regener8 Tour with an initial stop in Albany before traveling north to Plattsburgh. This listening tour, Cooney says, focuses on three central topics.

“Around workforce development and wealth generation, recreating, revitalizing our downtowns or our center city cores, and talking about what is ever happening with infrastructure in our country. How we can benefit from that across the state of New York in terms of cities," Cooney said. "And by the way when we say infrastructure we mean that in the broadest sense. Infrastructure to meet the demands and needs of residents of New York and of course from our mayors. I do want to emphasize this is a bipartisan effort.”

North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas hosted a roundtable discussion with Senator Cooney and members of the business, educational and governmental sectors to discuss regional concerns.

“Some of the focus of the conversation centered on workforce development which got into a very good conversation about our community colleges and how the state’s funding formula is so far out of date it’s actually undermining the role of community colleges in doing the kinds of training and certification programs and things that we need to be supporting," said Douglas. "A good conversation about housing. Not so much low income housing. There are a lot of programs for that. But in Plattsburgh for moderate income housing and that is really needed in the Adirondack region where property values are just escalating to a point that the working people in communities like Lake Placid can’t live in the places where we need them to be to work anymore.”

While Cooney’s Plattsburgh visit was part of the first leg of his Regener8 tour, he anticipated he would hear similarities in the planned discussions across the state.

“One common thread is the need to really invest in infrastructure. A lot of focus around cities have been about quality of life. Transportation, making sure that we have good parks and recreation, arts and culture, all of which are really important. But the key ingredient is a good paying job.”

Cooney expects the commonalities to be intermixed with unique regional components such as the Plattsburgh region’s proximity to Canada.

“Plattsburgh is actually uniquely positioned to benefit from that international relationship. How can these upstate cities like Buffalo, Rochester and Plattsburgh benefit from a more international relationship in terms of creating jobs especially in the manufacturing sector which is already so robust here in Plattsburgh. So we want to grow that and create opportunities for education and families to benefit from that.”

State Senator Dan Stec, a Republican from the 45th district, praised his colleague’s efforts to spotlight concerns of cities across the state.

“Every city’s unique but they all have similar challenges: the tax base, housing needs, infrastructure challenges. But you know then again he’s also going to see unique things. Hey we are a suburb of Montreal so we have an international component here," notes Stec. "We’re a former Air Force Base town that’s done well. So we’ve had a positive experience that others can learn from. So I mean I think there’s things that make us unique that are also going to be important takeaways. But certainly no doubt he’s going to hear a lot of similarities from city to city and then they’ll get addressed at a statewide basis.”

While Plattsburgh was officially the tour’s second stop following Albany, Cooney said they had made an unofficial stop in Kingston. The Regener8 tour also includes Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Yonkers.

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