Many holiday stories center on the miracles of the season and the reasons to be thankful for the warm glow of the fire, lights on the tree, presents from Santa, and the food “over the River and through the woods” at Grandma’s.  The uniqueness and special nature of our communities is apparent when driving through them on the way to church or relatives’ homes.  And snow came very early this year thanks to the unusually cold November climate.

It truly is a blessing to live here, and all one has to do is watch TV news reports of strife in other countries, or challenging economic conditions even in other parts of our state, to know we have something to be thankful for.  And we do have some wonderful things which are happening here these days that make our communities even more delightful.  There have been wonderful holiday celebrations, the decorations are up everywhere and a drive through the various neighborhoods brings a vivid picture of holiday cheer through every window of the car.

Economically, our communities are relatively sound, with unemployment still under 4 percent, business investment and development holding steady in the region and increasing revenue from hotel and property taxes the norm.   Each community has invested dollars in trails, parks, recreation centers and the like, and more are expected. And some community centers really are burgeoning, such as up in Schuylerville or right in Downtown Clifton Park, a phrase one really can say with a straight face these days!

The certainly are questions yet unanswered.  For example, what to do with the large “big box” buildings now vacant, as many large retailers move out of the area.  Proposals have been put forward to try and address this situation, though it has been problematic to come to an agreement on the amount of residential housing which might be included in a replacement structure where the old Kmart once stood in Clifton Park, for example.  On the other hand, that very housing is an attempt to address a concern which is becoming more and more prevalent on social media feeds and in public conversations:  the need to adapt planned housing (i.e. build more apartments) to the needs of seniors aging in place who choose to downsize and the younger generation for whom the American Dream no longer includes a white picket fence, a long stately driveway, 2 SUVs in the garage and 2.3 kids to carry around.

Still, the above problems exist precisely because our community is one worth moving to, and that is yet another reason we have much to celebrate this holiday season!

-Pete Bardunias, President/CEO, the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County

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