Desperation. Frustration. Resignation. Resolve. You can hear all of that when you listen to Renato DiBella.
He’s owned DiBella’s Pizza at the corner of Washington Avenue and Marius Street for the last sixteen years. Thank you, Mr DiBella. Thank you for working for your business, your employees, and your neighbors.
He has fought for and worked in this neighborhood all of that time. In the beginning, he took out a small business loan from the City with just two employees. He finished paying it off three years ahead of schedule, and grew his business to eleven employees. No plaque, no recognition, no official thank you. He hasn’t asked for any. He just keeps it going, hiring people from all over the neighborhood.
His fight is bigger now. Extraordinary circumstances have become ordinary days.
Most of you know that the sinkhole on Washington Avenue has been the city’s biggest problem for the last two years. We have put nearly four million dollars into repairs and fixes over that time. People who live and work in the area of the hole, and have been affected by traffic and repairs and surveying should be commended for their patience. The people that live closest should be nominated for sainthood. They have put up with broken sewer lines, water stoppages, cracked foundations, sewer gas smells, loss of yards and privacy, and homes with little or no value on the open market. DiBella’s has been there a long time, but, without the business the closed street has taken, they have to move. Other people want to move, but can’t. Some don’t want to, but can’t see the end. All of them just want their lives back.
These people have paid so much in dues that we owe them change.
Mostly, the people here feel that they have not really been listened to. “If this had happened on Albany Avenue or Broadway, this would have been done by now”, one said. We can’t leave them feeling like their complaints are the problem. Their complaints are just describing the symptoms of the illness.
They have been to their Aldermen, their Mayors, their Assemblyman, and their Governor.
Renato DiBella soldiers on. So do his neighbors. They all know each other. Their lives have crossed for years. He is one story in this neighborhood, and he is going to stay here. He still owns the building, and has other properties nearby. His family lives here.
The sinkhole is a big problem, and it belongs to the entire city.
What can we can do for each other? How can we turn this into a model city? Well, we can advocate for others in city hall. We can make a difference if we speak to the common council at meetings, or just be there to hear a neighbor who does. Can it be as simple as cutting our own bushes back at the corners so people can see oncoming traffic? None of these things will increase taxes, but they will add value to real lives. Do we really need “official” Make a Difference Days? Renato passionately explained that it is expected and ordinary that we all come together in a crisis and, of course, it is valued. However, it is how we come together and connect on ordinary days that makes a difference.
I want to represent and champion Kingston neighbors like Renato while serving on the Kingston Common Council. KingstonBarn came from the desire to bring people together, and find out what we can do to help Kingston. We can stay positive and work together.
I believe together we can make our ordinary days extraordinary. It is my desire, my passion, my heart. It is a mission which can inspire and unite all of our 3rd Ward residents and the Kingston City community.
We don’t have all the answers, but who would we be if we stopped trying to find them?