Those words in the title? I said them. 1980. The New Year. I was mayor of the city of my birth and youth. Poughkeepsie, New York.
On New Year’s Day 1980, the government of the city would reorganize and would pass certain rules of order for the coming year. The mayor would say what the media called, “the state of the city.” My trite words had meaning then.
The name Poughkeepsie came from native Americans. Originally, U-piku-ipi-sing, it meant the reed-covered lodge by the little water place. Alexander Hamilton walked the old streets of Poughkeepsie, the second capital of New York, in 1788, when the United States Constitution was ratified by a vote of the state’s delegates.
Shy of two centuries later, Poughkeepsie, despite its great history, and its idyllic location on the mighty Hudson River midway between New York City and Albany, the third capital of New York, had been ravaged by a federal government program called Urban Renewal. I came into office with stretches of vacant land, real estate where once stood historic buildings, and the land needed to be used, and to be placed again on the tax roll of the city to help pay the bills. Some historic neighborhoods had survived the wrecking ball of urban renewal. An arterial highway, designed I guess to help people speed through the once bustling handsome city, divided it into thirds: the south side, the middle, and the north side.
There was still so much right with Poughkeepsie but there were times when I sometimes wondered if I could see it or, instead, imagine it. So, the beginning that New Year 1980 marked was ours to remake our city. The story of Poughkeepsie and me from that day is a long one, and some day I hope to tell all of it. But not today.
We pass from 2020, something of a year of infamy, to 2021. By most accounts, we should see light at the end of a tunnel. The pandemic, and the troubled economy, will not magically depart at midnight on December 31. And it is possible our problems will deepen in the early part of 2021 as we have been warned. But we must see the light, or at least imagine it, as we bury away 2020 and nurture the blossoms of 2021. Every New Year marks a beginning. This, again, is ours.
The author of this post is Tom Aposporos, a licensed real estate broker in both Florida and New York. In a business career of more than four decades, he also served as mayor of his home city, a commissioner in his adopted island city, and chaired a publicly-owned bank through a period of financial recovery. These experiences have enhanced his knowledge and have brought additional dimension to his real estate career.