Last week as I was gathering insights on the Pike Plan, I had emailed alderman Tom Hoffay (Dem., Ward 2) to get him to weigh in on the topic. Tom emailed back to say he was busy and would reply later. Well, a busy week got ahead of Tom and he replied this morning with an update of not only the Pike Plan, but other topics on his ward as well.
– Arthur Zaczkiewicz
I’ll give you a summary of the week, where four developments and the meetings and correspondence attendant to them, gobbled up the time.
For many Kingston residents, support of a candidate this year amounted to lawn signs and bumber stickers. According to OpenSecrets.org and Federal Election Commission data, our humble zip code of 12401 doled out just $15,500 in the 2008 presidential race.
The total contributions in 2008 for political action committees, elected officials and those seeking office totalled $49,657 for Kingston — well below the average contribution by zip code of $57,858.
If you are interested in seeing how much and to which presidential candidate that your neighbors gave to, click here, and click on the map tabs. This shows the address and amount given.
Have you seen the new furniture shop uptown that makes great things out of reclaimed wood? It’s called Salvage Co. and also offers the works of local artists as well as unique items that are worth checking out.
Although Salvage Co. is not a traditional auction house, they are having an auction on February 8.
Here are the details:
This is a public auction
Reclaimed – Recycled – Interesting Furnishings – Mid Century Furniture
Photography – Primitive Rural Artifacts
Antiques – Local Art
FEBRUARY 8th @ 2:00 PM
314 Wall St. Uptown Kingston
Thursday, Friday, Saturday (2/5-2/7)
Just wanted to share with you this email from Rebecca Martin regarding our upcoming visioning session:
– Arthur Zaczkiewicz
I just got off the phone with the Kingston Times, who is doing a story on the visioning session that Arthur Zaczkiewicz and I are organizing for one block in our neighborhood on Saturday, February 14th at 2:30pm. Those who are on the Ward 9 Community Group email list, and members of the KingstonCitizens.org Yahoo! Groups have received a press release. I’m attaching it below, in the case that you did receive it by not being on one of these lists. While being interviewed today, it occurred to me that I be certain that you were all made aware of what we are doing and to make it clear that it is open to all. I also felt it was necessary to give you a bit of background on why we have decided to proceed with this project. Continue reading →
One of the editors of Retail Traffic magazine said he possibly had a story for me to do on mixed used development. Having covered the retail real estate beat for some time, I’m intrigued that this trend is gaining speed again — it backs up what I’ve been reading about elsewhere regarding how people are seeking urban environments.
The large real estate investment trusts (REITs) are taking heavy losses on their large-scale development projects as retailers fail and businesses sink. But there are smaller, more nimble companies who are working on mixed use projects that is in step with a consumer trend of shopping local. Consumers want the old main street back again.
Several building owners who own properties on North Front and Wall streets, where the Pike Plan canopies are located, reiterated that a petition was circulated in August of last year demanding “an individual vote in regard to all plans and/or monies received and spent on the future of the Pike Plan. Without a vote, we consider this to be taxation without representation.”
Thirty seven of the roughly 42 building owners in the Pike Plan district signed the petition and are working to take control of the destiny of the Pike Plan.
Separately, around the holidays, a handful of business and building owners sent a letter to the mayor asking for the option to remove the Pike Plan.
From the building owners perspective, the Pike Plan requires a heavy tax on an already heavy tax load. What several of the building owners would like is to examine the feasibility of removing the structure and restoring the buildings to its original facades.
It’s important to note that in one study, Norman Mintz, an expert consultant known as “Mr. Main Street,” recommends hiring a main street manager and conducting a thoughtful marketing campaign.
Mintz’s final report, which was submitted in July of 2007, urged for the creation of a business improvement district as well.
We’re hearing that the City of Kingston is working with Rebecca Martin’s Victory Garden Project to install a garden at City Hall — which would make it one of the first Victory Gardens to be done on a municipal site since, well, at least World War II.
There’s also a separate project involving some folks in Maine to install an organic garden at the White House. Isn’t Kingston just ahead of the curve?
Kingston’s Victory Garden will involve master gardeners, experienced farmers and volunteers working with the Kingston High School. The plan is to launch it on Earth Day, April 22. Stay tuned for details.
But what will they plant? Well, since 2009 marks 400 hundred years since ol’ Henry Hudson sailed up his namesake, the organizers wanted to grow something that reflected the area’s heritage. So the choice was to plant a “three sisters” garden, which grows corn, beans and squash in a symbiotic way. Read about this type of garden here.
If I know the organizers well, I think the kids will be donating the food produced by the garden to area soup kitchens.
There’s been some good chatter on the Ward 4 discussion site tackling topics such as traffic and safety.
Jeanne Edwards has a short wish list for the area near the library. “I would like to see Franklin st one way from Clinton to Broadway, then have Vanburen St one way from Broadway to Furnace. Make Franklin, and Vanburen both sides of the street parking. It would be safer for the kids, cars, trash trucks, everything,” she wrote. “I really think this should be done. Liberty st is one way and not too many problems.”
As a resident who lives on a one-way street, I concur with Jeanne’s point of view. I don’t know anything about street design or planning, but I can say that one-way streets that are strategically place sure make a difference.
Separately, “Gerard” posted a comment on the Ward 4 site noting two armed robberies over the past two weeks, on Clinton and Liberty streets — involving delivery services. “That merits at least broad and continuous public notice and warning to all services: do not respond to calls for delivery of any kind to that area, at least not after dark,” he wrote. “Citizens deserve to be warned if they cannot at least be protected. That really is a shame for the many good people living in midtown. It seems that there could be at least one or two well lit and camera monitored sites in Midtown where a person might be reasonably safe.”
Jeanne said she lives on “Liberty St and the past year has been great. Not to many problems. I can see when the spring hits the house next store to me will be some problems. These people just moved in and there are alot of people in and out. The music has not yet hit high but its going there.
I moved in 5 years ago and it took that time to get it cleaned up, now [its] heading back to where it was.”
Certain areas of midtown have been problematic for residents, and the city is aware of the quality of life issues that affect the area, particularly safety related. But awareness is one thing and action is another. Perhaps an investment can be made to install cameras and lighting.
For Kingston, there’s an important lesson to be learned. The Red Hook task force was a collaborative effort that keyed in on a collective vision for the town.
This is what Kingston needs to do. Whether the topic is the Pike Plan, waterfront development or citywide economic development, the city should be working toward collaboration between residents, property owners, businesses, planners and other groups as well as elected officials.
In the meantime, the blog here at KingstonCitizens.org can serve as a forum for ideas, insights and discussions.
Last fall, U.S. Rep Maurice Hinchey announced funding for an upgrade of the Pike Plan, the overhead canopies located along several streets in the uptown section of the city.
Recently, city officials have said there’s a petition going around calling for Kingston to abandon the project. Several businesses would like to see the structure, which is rotting in places, be torn down.