Businesses address city planners

JOHNSTOWN – Downtown business leaders and property owners provided the city Planning Board on Tuesday with ideas on how to improve the Main Street area.

Several business persons attended what the board referred to as its first-ever Central Business District Vision-Strategic Plan Session at City Hall. The board set the session as part of an overall strategy to solicit ideas from downtown business owners about improving the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

“We wanted to start our strategic process for Main Street,” said City Engineer Chandra Cotter.

The city’s Central Business District is bordered by North and South Melcher streets to the west, Washington Street and West and East Green streets to the north, Union Place and East State Street to the east, and West Clinton to the south.

Planning board members asked the business and property owners what their ideal image of Main Street was. They also asked what is the desired end state, and what do you want to see when you walk down the street.

“What we’re looking for is your input – good, bad, indifferent,” board member Fredrick Franko stated.

A section of the Comprehensive Plan states: “Our community should have a lively, distinguishable downtown or central business district featuring special shops, restaurants, boutiques and other diverse attractions.”

Lee Mitchell, co-owner of the Mysteries on Main Street book store at 144 W. Main St., said his store has sometimes wheeled out plants in front of the store. He said he liked it when the city DPW watered his plants, as workers go down the street to water city plants.

“I did appreciate that,” he said.

Mitchell said the downtown Farmer’s Market has worked out well to attract activity downtown.

“Sometimes, it seems we could use a little more parking downtown,” he said.

Mitchell said he has seen an increase in vandalism downtown the past year, but it is not as bad as Gloversville.

“The perception is Johnstown is a much safer downtown than Gloversville,” Mitchell said.

Several members of the public indicated it is advantageous when signage on Route 30A indicates which way travelers should go to reach the downtown area.

David Hoover, a plumber located next to the downtown Sir William Johnson Park, said the city is doing a “wonderful job” with periodic banners and holiday lights downtown.

Business owners were asked about whether it is a good idea to have tables outside in the downtown.

Linda Joseph – co-owner of the Vintage Cafe of 21 W. Main St. – said sidewalk space is tight, but she likes to see tables out.

Lavina Town, co-owner of property at 128 W. Main St., said signs pointing out city parking areas would be helpful too.

“I do think more buildings should be painted and maintained,” her husband, Doug Town, added.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at