Midway through his fourth term as mayor, Sam Teresi finds himself with a golden opportunity.
Teresi is interviewing candidates to replace the recently retired Steve Centi as the city's development director and head of the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency. The mayor recently told City Council members he wants a candidate who has business ownership experience and knowledge of the local governmental process as well as dedication to the revitalization of the greater Jamestown area.
The mayor should add to that list someone who has a specific vision for the Jamestown of the future.
The next development director faces many of the same challenges Centi faced. Cuts in federal CDBG and HOME money have cut the resources available to the department. The next director also inherits a department that spends much of its time on code enforcement and grant paperwork as the city tries to revitalize its aging housing stock. It's part of the job, but it shouldn't be the entire job. Centi himself told The Post-Journal in December that Department of Development is largely a "misnomer" for his department in terms of mission and resources.
That needs to change.
The city needs an infusion of taxable assessment that comes from large-scale development. It needs an active person helping to fill the city's many vacant buildings and to work in concert with the Jamestown Renaissance Corp. to bring all available resources to bear in neighborhood redevelopment. The city needs a person advocating on behalf of Jamestown as a place for businesses to locate, for its events and festivals and for people to come buy a home. The city needs to have a person selling the benefits of the Jamestown to all who will listen - not the least of whom are investors with deep, job creating pockets.
Jamestown needs to begin rebuilding the wave of momentum it rode in the early 2000s, when the development department was actively involved in the building of two hotels, three drug stores, new retail development on North Main Street and, of course, the ongoing west end development spurred by the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena.
Developers aren't beating down to the door right now to build in Jamestown - which means Jamestown needs a person actively working to match development opportunities to developers.
Make it happen, Mr. Mayor.