IGNITE Young Professionals Forum: Your Voice in the City Manager Search
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Underground Café 144 Genesee Street, Auburn, NY
CITY MANAGER SEARCH PROCESS – Who should finalists meet?
Question: After the search committee recommends a certain number of finalists to city council, what
should the following procedure be?
Discussion: Should city council proceed with interviews and subsequently let the public know about
their selection for the new city manager? Should there be a public meet and greet with the finalists, so
they get to know their future home and fellow residents before they accept the job? Would you like to
see a public forum with Q&A or would you rather see them meet with focus groups?
Consensus: Who are the individuals, businesses, organizations, industries that you would
recommend the finalists to meet?
Every group agreed that there should be community involvement before city council picks the next city
manager. While there was discussion at every table about a public forum with the finalists, the majority
agreed that this might not be the best setting. The consensus was that a better way for the finalists to get
to know the community would be a tour through the city combined with scheduled meetings with key
stakeholders. Such were identified as city employees (department heads), city council members
(facilitated by search committee), commissions/non profits (BID, CEDA, IGNITE, Tourism Office, Arts
Council, Historic Preservation) and industry (Chamber, education, health care, manufacturers,
TOUR THROUGH AUBURN – Where would you take the new city manager?
Question: Apart from obvious tourist attractions, which places in Auburn should a new city manager
be familiar with and why?
Discussion: Utilize the map to highlight and discuss where you would take the new city manager and
what you would tell him/her about it. Pick places that are important for you and that define Auburn in a
positive or negative way, be it neighborhoods, buildings, businesses, public spaces, etc.
Consensus: Each table agrees on two places that show a positive development in Auburn and on
two places that demonstrate a negative example in need of improvement.
Discussions produced a wide range of places that the new city manager should be familiar with for
various reasons (see word clouds). Each table then narrowed it down to two places that show a positive
development in Auburn and two places that are in not such good shape and need improvement. All
participants got to vote on those. Generally, YPs voted more for the positive examples than for the
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Positive places/developments in Auburn
Eastern gateway 1%
Dunn and McCarthy potential 7%
360 view from top of city parking garage 10%
Auburn Public Theater 10%
Energy production / CoGen facility 12%
Logan Park Lofts 14%
Musical Theater Festival sites 16%
Owasco River trail 16%
0% 5% 10% 15% 20%
Owasco River walking trail – walking/biking/leisure/family activity, connect downtown to lake (11)
Musical Theater Festival sites – what we have already and what’s in the works (11)
Logan Park Lofts – adaptive reuse development, NYC flair in Auburn (10)
Downtown – mostly full storefronts, good eateries, potential for more activities and residential
Energy production / CoGen facility – potential for hydro power and alternative energy (8)
Auburn Public Theater – arts, leisure and tourism (7)
360 degree view from top of city parking garage – shows city’s potential (7)
(69 votes total)
The top two positive developments identified by YPs were the Owasco River walking trail and the Musical
Theater Festival sites, closely followed by Logan Park Lofts and the general downtown area. It is worth
noting that YPs favored “the vision” of two places or opportunities that are not quite existent yet.
They seemed to embrace those new developments and spoke enthusiastically about the possibilities of
utilizing the Owasco River, which once was the heart of the city, and the impact that the Musical Theater
Festival can have on Auburn and on downtown, which they would like to see further revitalized as well.
The potential for innovation and sustainability through alternative energy production and the jobs that this
could bring to the community was also among the top picks. Regarding all the positive things about
Auburn that were discussed, YPs focused on the quality of life and entertainment/leisure aspects,
which shows that they value Auburn as a good place to live and have fun.
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Negative places/developments in Auburn
Empty P&C buildings 2%
City playgrounds and parks 5%
The West End 7%
South/North Street 7%
Owasco River underutilized 11%
Owasco Street 11%
Orchard Street/James Street 16%
Industrial Park 18%
City gateways/entrances 23%
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25%
City gateways/entrances – rundown buildings, signage (except Eastern gateway) (13)
Industrial Park – lack of infrastructure, need for economic development (10)
Orchard/James Street – challenged neighborhood, interest in (arts) development (9)
Owasco River – underutilized, used to be heart of (industrial) Auburn (6)
Owasco Street – challenged neighborhood (6)
North/South Street – road conditions/maintenance (4)
The West End – gateway, used to be nice neighborhood, capitalize on proximity to downtown (4)
(56 votes total)
When it came to pointing out negative places in Auburn, challenged neighborhoods (Orchard St, Owasco
St, prison neighborhoods, West St) and rundown industrial/commercial areas (Industrial Park,
Bombardier, Seminary Commons, empty P&Cs) were a major concern. The issue of Auburn’s
unwelcoming and unsightly gateways received the most votes. It was discussed how it is not a pretty sight
coming into Auburn and how potential visitors are merely passing by due to the lack of welcoming
features like nice signage, groomed green spaces and filled commercial spaces. Instead, they are
greeted by rundown buildings and industrial leftovers. Another big worry was the Industrial Park, its lack
of infrastructure and its need for economic development. Unfavorable road and sidewalk conditions in
some areas were mentioned as well. The consensus seemed to be that as Auburn moves from its
industrial past into its art/cultural future, it is in need of beautification and infrastructure
development to attract visitors as well as businesses and retain residents and YPs.
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STATEMENT – What is it like to be a young professional in Auburn?
Question: What would you tell the new city manager (or any other city leader) what it is like to be a
young professional in Auburn?
Discussion: What do you think about living, working, playing, shopping, dining, going out, etc. in
Auburn? What is good and what is missing? Why did you choose to stay or come (back) to Auburn?
Consensus: Each table composes a statement that best reflects their opinion.
There are limited opportunities for YPs to grow professionally, but a multitude of reasons why YPs benefit from
living here. If we can increase opportunity and professional growth, we should see the city population increase.
The young professional community in Auburn is large and needs to be connected; these people choose to live here
because they see the potential of the area and are waiting for the rest of the community to take the risk necessary
for Auburn to get to the next level.
Auburn tends to focus on the negative and be reactive rather than seeing the potential and being proactive. There is
a lack of communication regarding leadership and employment opportunities – either because young professionals
don't ask or because the older generation has a network that doesn't include young professionals or both.
The young professional community would like to see more diverse and affordable entertainment and dining
opportunities, with public Wi-Fi. Young professionals would also like to see a healthier job market with greater
incentives for new businesses to plant roots in our community. There is also a great need for diverse, hip and
affordable housing, affordable parking, as well as a better multi-modal public transportation system.
We have the potential to grow and stay in the community, but less government regulations, involvement in citizen's
lives… Be willing to see potential of free market to create prosperity.
Among the reasons why YPs like it here are Auburn’s good quality of life, family orientation, affordable
cost of living, good restaurants and taverns, historical treasures, proximity to larger cities and outside
entertainment, the natural beauty of the surroundings and community resources like the library, farmers
market and parks.
The things that make it hard for YPs in Auburn are limited job opportunities and above-living wages, the
shortage of growth and leadership opportunities and the necessity to be “connected” in order to have “a
way in”, the need for social events after 9 pm, the lack of inclusion by the older generation and the limited
good educational opportunities. Many YPs have to look for jobs outside of Auburn and there are
mixed feelings about how welcoming Auburn decision makers are towards YPs who would like to
get involved and make a difference. However, despite the not so rosy economic situation, participating
YPs keep in mind the positive things about Auburn and search for solutions and opportunities when faced
with challenging factors.
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