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While columnist Bill Balyszak is often to be commended for talking about topics that most people don’t care to, his May 28 column about downtown Auburn was way off of the mark, so here we go:

Yes, the HSBC bunker building is empty, and has always been an eyesore that present owner, First Niagara Bank, is dealing with.

The Crosman building is now owned by Rick Galbato, who has invested much more money than he had expected into that corner property. Rick has made accessibility for people with disabilities a priority, and the interior is being carefully restored and will be in use soon. Evidently, Bill has not noticed the banners in front of the contemporary building across from Memorial City Hall that have been advertising rental space for several weeks.

The comment about the Phoenix Building really tipped me over the edge! Bill’s estimate of emptiness is way out of line where this wonderful grand dame of history is concerned. Now owned by Andrew and Bess Simkin, the Phoenix Building has only the half adjacent to Auburn Document Center on the ground floor available for rent. This space has been separated from the ADC with a new wall and is ready to be utilized. The rest of this magnificent building is full! Lucky for Auburn that Andrew and Bess returned to their roots from their world travels that their professions required, and have become the best owners that the Phoenix Building could ever have.

The Genesee Mall, and smaller spaces on South Street, offer incubator opportunities for people who have great ideas and that incredible itch to become business owners. Many thanks to Carl Yoensky and Tony Piccolo, who have over the years worked with people and encouraged them by providing reasonably priced spaces to launch their dreams from. We need to keep in mind that the long recession that the government says we are coming out of has had a devastating effect on all communities, not just Auburn.

It cannot be said enough that BID, the Auburn Downtown Business Improvement District, supports, promotes and applauds every person who takes that leap of faith and has the guts to establish a business, whether it’s a small sole proprietorship, a developer of a new business, or expanding a present one. There is way too much negativity in this community, which is wasted energy. We thank everyone for their investments in downtown Auburn and the future of this city with their positive energy.

Bill, I cannot cover all of your points in this space but I am offering you a personal guided tour of downtown businesses, so please give me a call and I’ll help you get your facts straight.

Many thanks to Options for Independence for including me in its annual Disability Awareness Day Friday, May 31. My condition for the day was carpal tunnel, which required me to wear a wrist brace. A group of us wore our disabilities at our workplaces and then traveled to Southern Cayuga Central School to spend time with the third-graders, who had lots of good questions for us. We enjoyed a lunch provided by Balloons Restaurant and we traveled in a SCAT Van in the capable hands of driver Lee Brew. Thank you to Allison Wade and Alicia Marsh from Options for Independence for coordinating this event.

Thank you to Dickman Farms for growing the beautiful hanging baskets that were hung by Auburn Irrigations, who also planted the ground pots and water all of the flowers for the season. Thank you also to the Auburn Beautification Commission for its help with the flower program.

Please keep in mind that our first BID Summer Concert will take place in Market Street Park at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 3 with Loren Barrigar and Mark Mazengarb’s wonderful music. This is the only date that they had open in their busy schedule, so we’re going with it and, yes, it is the same evening as the music and fireworks at Emerson Park. Come to Market Street Park if you can and then go to the lake, or just come, bring a chair, relax in a calm atmosphere, enjoy food purchased from the Auburn Doubledays and bring your dancing shoes if you are inclined to.

If you haven’t visited the new Fingerlakes Art Cooperative at 101 Genesee St., please stop in for a nice surprise. Local artists are presenting their talents in this great space. Gallery hours are noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information about the cooperative, visit www.flartcoop.org.

Connie Reilley is the executive director of the Downtown Auburn BID. She can be reached at 252-7874.

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Features editor for The Citizen.