Gaining popular support is all about being the victimized underdog and reaping the mountains of sympathy that follow. It has nothing to do with being right, justified or logical and everything to do with playing your cards right.
Fort Ontario and dozens of other parks and historic sites are the victims of Paterson’s vigilant budget ax and everyone is jumping on board to save their local "treasure". The general response to the cuts seems to be something of an exasperated "how dare he!"
But are the Facebook groups and NIMBY-like public outcry really about saving a piece of history? Has this story really received so much airtime because the public just can’t do with out old wooden structures and musky buildings?
When was the last time you’ve visited Fort Ontario, or any local historic site for that matter? How many people on this campus or in the Oswego Community have actually gone past its wooden walls and have paid to take the tour?
Like it or not, the most used part of the property is probably the lawn surrounding it.
Use it or lose it tends to sum up the decision Paterson has made on many of these sites. While there are most certainly parks on the 79-name list that deserve New York’s increasingly rare funding, most of them are forgotten relics that need to be cut or severely scaled back.
At some point, the free market has to kick in. We are no longer in an economy where we can afford to carry the baggage of budget items that don’t at least partially carry their own weight. That goes for everything from park funding to education. Just because it sounds like a nice thing to have doesn’t mean it should be a line on a budget.
It’s not like these places are being torn down. No one will come into Oswego with 2 tons of dynamite and blow the fort sky high.
Just because New York State doesn’t fund it doesn’t mean it’s not a historic or important part of the community and region.
If people really cared about the opportunities provided by these sites, they would find the funding at the grassroots level through local and county programs or voluntary upkeep and maintenance.
Those arguing that the fort’s closure would hurt tourism revenue are kidding themselves. Close fishing on Lake Ontario, then we can talk about tourism dollars lost.
Too many people have protested Paterson’s cuts and proposed taxes based on the idea that we can solve the budget crisis without actually having to do anything. The prevalent argument has been to cut it from anywhere but here. The fort is a perfect example.
We at The Oswegonian believe that New Yorkers need wake up and realize that it’s not 1998 anymore. We cannot ride the wave of a technology bubble on Wall Street to fund our romantic ideology. The money doesn’t exist and real reform and sacrifices need to be made to ensure the state can financially sustain itself in the coming years.
Now that doesn’t mean Paterson and Albany have all the answers or that they always go about it in the right way. Government waste will always be an issue and New Yorkers should continue to fight for administrative reform to streamline spending and maximize our return. Just leave the sentimentalism out of it.