Toward Common Business Goals

From Kevin Quilty of KUBA:

As newly elected President of the Kingston Uptown Business Assn., I have committed myself to securing the necessary funding and establishing the Main Street Manager position to represent the 3 business districts under the recently reconstituted Business Alliance of Kingston (BAC).

Three reps from each of the 3 districts (9 total) currently serve on this board and have been meeting regularly to garner the necessary political strength to make our voices heard to the members of the Common Council and the Mayor. There are Community Development Block Grant Funds available which we hope to use as seed money over a two year period to fill the position, establish hard and fast goals for some measure of success and then make the position self sustaining through assessments of the businesses.

It is an about face for us to finally raise our heads up from our own turf and come together to solve some common issues as a full fledged business group. We would love your support in terms of letters to Common Council members or the Mayor and would be happy to supply you with additional information should you request it. There will be a public hearing at City Hall on March 10 at 6 pm. We will be asking for $50K each for two years to establish this position from CDBG funds which we fully qualify for and then will be on our own.

I welcome any comments/questions from you about this bold initiative. The time has come for us to work as a community to solve our own problems and show the greater business area that we are alive and aware and focusing on building a better business environment for all of us.

Fleisher’s as Meat Mentor

There’s a terrific story in The New York Times today that Paul Joffe pointed our way, which mentions Kingston’s own Fleisher’s butchers as meat mentors to a couple of culinary movers and shakers in Brooklyn.

The Times story, which can be read here, says that “Tom Mylan at Marlow & Daughters, a butcher shop opened in December by the owners of Marlow & Sons, found mentors. Mr. Mylan apprenticed himself last year at Fleisher’s, a highly regarded butcher shop in Kingston, N.Y., where he slept in the owners’ TV room for a month and a half.”

Bravo, Josh and Co.!

Committee to Address Accessibility on Key Rondout Streets

This just came in from Lei Isaacs:

Hi folks!

This Thursday night (night after tomorrow) the Public Safety Committee of the Kingston Common Council will be meeting at 7 p.m. at Kingston City Hall. Among the items to be discussed will be a proposal by Alderman Senor of the Eighth Ward changing some of the parking patterns in Kingston’s Gallery District.

It is my understanding that he will be proposing a “Loading Zone” by the corner of Spring and Broadway, and two parking spaces reserved for person’s with mobility challenges down the street a bit by Donskoj Gallery. As most of you know, ASK is embarking on a wonderful project to improve its accessibility to persons with physical challenges, and this consumer base is going to need to be able to park closer to the galleries that over in the police station parking lot!

Please forward this to other artists (and persons with physical challenges)(and persons who are both, of course) whose e-dresses I don’t have. A big turnout at the meeting will ensure constructive discussion and will show the Public Safety committee that there is support for these changes! If the proposal is recommended by the Public Safety Committee, it can go to a vote of the whole Common Council.

Lei Isaacs (founder, “Restore Access Ward 9″)

Ev Mann on Carnegie Library Project

Robert ‘Evry’ Mann, founder of the Center for Creative Education, took some time with the KingstonCitizens.org blog to update the community on the next steps in the Carnegie Library Project as well as why this work is important for youth of our community. He also said the Bank Street College of Education approved a proposal to work with CCE to develop an academic program at the Carnegie Library.

Editor’s Note: I was going to format like a traditional Q&A, but thought his responses work well as a straight narrative.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz
Read more…

What’s New on Kingston Citizens…

Welcome to the blog of KingstonCitzens.org! We’ve added some important links on the right-side column of the website, which includes a monthly magazine, the Catskill Mountain Region Guide, under the media tab and the League of Women Voters Mid-Hudson Region website (under a new tab titled “Citizenship”) as well as the Center for Creative Education, under the Education and Personal Enrichment tab.

The League’s website has an archive of its newsletters, which can be found here. As previously mentioned here on Kingston Citizens, the League is a terrific resource of municipal news.

The Catskill Mountain Region Guide is a magazine that is readily available in print form, but the website has an arts and events calendar that is rich and easy to use.

If you know of any websites that would be good to link to, please let us know.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Gillibrand’s Political Pedigree

Steve Hopkins’ just-published article on Kirsten Gillibrand — our newly elevated senator — in the current issue of The Hudson Valley Chronic reveals an interesting political pedigree of the young senator.

Hopkins writes that Gillibrand was groomed as “the scion of a key contingent in the powerful O’Connell dynasty that ran Albany for half a century.”

Gillibrand serves on several senate committees: Special Committee on Aging; Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Committee on Environment and Public Works; and the Committee on Foreign Relations. With the recent stimulus package, it should prove interesting how Gillibrand positions herself on the environment and public works committee.

To see Gillibrand’s senate page, click here.

Freeman Parent Files Chapter 11

The Journal Register Co., parent of the Kingston Daily Freeman, said it filed for bankruptcy protection, according to the Associted Press in a story here.

The newspaper chain said in a statement that it was looking to pare down a massive debt load of over $400 million. The voluntary chapter 11 gives the company some breathing room from its creditors while it reorganizes under a “reorganization plan.”

“The Company expects to continue to generate sufficient cash flow to fund its operations and, as a condition to implementation of the Plan, will obtain a $25 million revolving credit facility upon its exit from bankruptcy to further enhance its liquidity position,”  the Journal Register said in its statement. “The Company’s existing equity holders would receive no distributions under the proposed plan.”

To see a list of the top 50 unsecured creditors, click here and view “docket 1.”

Today’s Image: A Kingston Cave

wilbur-cave

Kate Lawson’s photo this week reveals another Kingston treasure:

While walking around Wilbur in search of a potential site for a small piece of the Kingston Victory Garden Project, I got to thinking about the cave that is just around the first curve of Rodney St.  It’s been about 100 years since I last saw it.  A make-shift fence now blocks the mouth of the cave so I couldn’t go in and wander around. 

Instead, I stuck my camera through the mesh fencing and took a couple of shots.  It reminds me of what a unique place Kingston is.  We have beauty from majestic waterways, rolling hills and mountains, and even a subterranean land few of us know anything about.

– Kate Lawson

An Ancient Order

The Freeman’s story today about Mayor Jim Sottile’s “credit” on the costs of police overtime for organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will certainly stir some critics as the $1,000 break comes after the Rondout Business Association pulled its parade due to costs.

In the Freeman story, alderman Robert Senor said the move by the mayor was a “slap in the face” to the Rondout businesses.

Debacle aside, what was interesting to learn was that Sottile, Senor and council president James Noble are all members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which are the organizers of the St. Patrick’s parade.

This is a reminder that Kingston is a tightly knit community, with deep immigrant roots. Organizations such as the AoH not only organize parades, but work as a community group on a variety of projects.

The Ulster County chapter’s website has a detailed history page on the organization that says the national AoH is the oldest Catholic lay organization in the country. Read about it here.

The national AoH website has even more information, including an archive and can be seen here.

High-Speed, Wait, Slow Down

Did you hear that Amtrak was looking for several billion dollars of the stimulus package to use for its rail upgrades, specifically high-speed rail development?

The idea is to pour money into several projects across the country, which would make high-speed travel possible in routes such as the New York City to Albany corridor. The Federal Railroad Administration website has details of the Empire Corridor, which would allow people to travel between Albany and New York City in two hours.

This would have a profound impact on commuters, home prices and refined gas sales for autos. The prospects are intriguing for someone like me who used to spend five hours a day commuting from Kingston to NYC. If there was a high-speed train that stopped in Poughkeepsie, presumably the halfway point to Albany, the trip would take an hour. Sign me up!

This sort of commute would put us on par with many of the high-speed rail lines in Europe. Then again, the U.S. Feds have been talking about developing high-speed rails since 1965 when the first bits of passenger rail legislation were introduced.

Currently, the outlook without the stimulus money is grim. Amtrak has a plan in place for high-speed travel. But according to the FRA, Amtrak’s commitment to the corridor upgrade plan that’s been sitting idle “is contingent on adequate federal funding of Amtrak’s capital program – which is not being provided – and accordingly all activities to implement the plan are presently deferred.”

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Solution for a Rained-Out Parade

The Freeman reports today that the Mardi Gras parade is cancelled because the Rondout Business Association doesn’t have the funds to pay for insurance and police overtime. The other planned events remain a go.

In the case of the parade, which includes four floats and kids in costume, why not still have it, but create a modified version of it? The parade can line up at lower Broadway right near the Downtown Cafe and proceed West along that service road. One end of the parking lot can be closed off and there could be another barricade on the starting corner.

A few barricades. That’s it. It could function just like the block parties held in Kingston where a street is closed off with barricades. There’s no police presence, and no insurance for block parties, right? And the city regulary closes off streets. For this function, the parade can proceed slowly down a narrow street that opens into a parking lot. Just a throught…

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz