So here is my unsolicited opinion on the debate on whether Washington County should be recategorized as North Country rather than Capital Region.
I understand the basis of that argument. We are rural. Why should our county be tied to the fate of cities an hour or more south of us?
Originally the economic regions were established based on density and resources as a means of targeting distribution of federal grant funds throughout the state. Basically it means your town is no longer fighting all of upstate in a battle of “who is more low income” for every bridge, trail, or infrastructure project. It’s sometimes a flawed system but it ultimately made distribution of upstate grant funding more equitable.
Using that metric for reopening the state in phases makes sense. It’s a framework that already exists. Many of the same factors, such as population density and proximity to resources such as hospitals and jobs, are important. Washington County has more people and proximity to resources than, say, Hamilton, Clinton, or Essex.
Greenwich is 40 minutes from Troy. Most of lower Washington County is a bedroom community for urban Capital Region workers. Like it or not we are closely linked to the fate of Albany-Schenectady-Troy. Calling ourselves North Country won’t change the fact that we’re geographically and, in a lot of ways that matter right now, demographically closer to the Capital Region.
But Whitehall isn’t Greenwich!!! Yup. That’s right. But now we’re getting into a different argument about dividing individual counties by population density, which is a whole other problem to solve at a time when our state has a lot of problems.
Should Saratoga County be Capital Region? Absolutely, based on the density-resource equation it’s the only region where we fit. But what about Corinth, Hadley and Day? They’re arguably just as rural as Granville and Whitehall. Parts of these communities are in the Adirondack Park. Shouldn’t northern Saratoga County also be North Country?
The answer is maybe, if we had time to create a new metric for establishing economic regions by town. But we don’t, not right now.
Imagine the ramifications of Un-Pausing NY by town rather than by region. Our most rural communities lack the resources needed to meet the guidelines for reopening, and that means we’d all be last, once again coming in behind the “small cities” with their greater population density and proximity to resources. Which was the entire point of establishing the economic regions.
While the initial implementation was messy, the economic regions ultimately work in our favor. I don’t have any real answers for what should happen next. None of us do, really.
Community Development is part of what I do for a living and these are my personal observations. Our futures are tied to one another regardless of geography, and I think reorganizing the economic regions will cause problems we cannot even begin to anticipate, let alone solve in the midst of a global crisis.
On Friday March 20, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered 100 percent of non-essential workforce to stay home due to coronavirus. As a result, we will be ceasing all field operations and our staff has been instructed to work remotely. If you are a client with work orders for site contamination reports, Tier 2s, LBP Risk Assessments or Clearances, Asbestos or Mold Inspections or Clearances, or other services, and we have not completed the site visit, we will be calling you, the homeowners, and/or contractors to cancel our appointments as needed to comply with the Governor’s orders.
If you are scheduled to take an EPA Lead or DOL Mold training at our facility or at another facility, then please contact us as we are exploring opportunities to continue with these services. Additional details will be forthcoming.
We will continue to monitor the voicemails remotely and our emails, so please be in touch if you have any questions, concerns, or we can be of further assistance. Be safe and healthy everyone.
I am writing concerning the impact of coronavirus on our work. As of right now, it is our intention to continue working. We are taking extra precautions and want to inform you of potential delays in the completion of final work products and options for trainings. Truthfully, we don’t know how things will evolve, so here is the plan as of right now:
The Flatley Read office is now effectively closed and our staff working remotely from home. Calls to the office phone will be directed to voicemail and checked regularly during business hours. If you have questions or are in need of assistance, please be sure to leave us a voicemail or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We intend to continue with all scheduled trainings with a maximum capacity of 10 persons. If you would like to take a training but have limited ability to come to the office or are in a high-risk pool please call and leave a message. We will make arrangements to make sure to meet your training needs.
Field work will continue as scheduled with the following precautions:
- We will call to confirm with homeowners that they are prepared for a home visit, let them know about precautions we will use, and inquire whether there is anyone who is feeling ill or has been in contact with someone with coronavirus.
- We have implemented an extended sick leave policy. If anyone is feeling ill, or someone in their family is feeling ill, they are to self-quarantine and we will reassign or reschedule appointments.
- All equipment will be sanitized before and after each site visit. Field staff will wear latex gloves while in a home.
- Work that requires lab results will depend on the availability of the lab and the timely delivery of samples. Unfortunately lab turnaround time is out of our control.
These measures will continue as long as the local school district remains closed, and we hope to continue provision of services to the greatest extent possible.
Please keep in touch and let us know how we can accommodate you during this unusual time.
We’re all in this together.