AUDIO:  Kingston Common Council Finance Committee hosts Public Hearing on Transfer of Lands to KLDC for Kingstonian Project

AUDIO: Kingston Common Council Finance Committee hosts Public Hearing on Transfer of Lands to KLDC for Kingstonian Project

At last evening’s public hearing, dozens of community members provided testimony in front of the Kingston Common Council’s Finance and Audit Committee to support or to question the transfer of 21 N. Front Street, a publicly owned parcel, to the Kingston Local Development Corporation (KLDC) by the City of Kingston Common Council. The transfer request was made by Mayor Steve Noble in order to provide the public parcel (assessed at $724,000. Its true value would be higher and is not yet publicaly known) to the developers in exchange for “public benefits” that include a couple of public bathrooms (it is believed that they will be located on the other side of Schwenk Drive at Herzog Plaza, owned by one of the developers). Although it is true that the community was aware of the council’s role in selling or leasing lands that would include 21 North Front Street and Fair Street Extension, the KLDC was not included as an involved agency in the developers Environmental Assessment Form. READ: Finance Committee Discusses Transfer of 21 N. Front Street to Kingston Local Development Corporation (KLDC) on February 10

Not lost on us, was that although some of the council members names were rattled off at the start of the meeting as being present, all but one chose to be on camera to assure the public that they were attentive and taking the matter seriously. Davis, Hirsch and Schabot, all Democrats, are running for reelection in the fall of 2021.

Here are several highlights:

“We can’t close a street to make uptown more congested than it already is…we the people have invested millions of dollars in this project. Please be our voice. Please take a seat at the table and guide this project to serve both the private developers and the citizens for we are very much investors in this project.” – Lee Kalish, Kingston resident

“In the Mayor’s letter to President Andrea Shaut, the property (21 N. Front Street) is described as a” burden” for the city….Under what criteria does this property become determined as a burden, and does the council agree?”
– Pat Courtney Strong, Kingston resident and member of the KLDC

“I want to express my concern of the lack of understanding of this process by the general public and the lack of transparency on behalf of the City of Kingston….If the city were not to transfer 21 N. Front Street to the KLDC, what rules and regulations would it need to abide by to sell the property. What public process would there be? I’m concerned that we may by taking on the property obscure that vital process of civic engagement.”
– Miles Crettien, Kingston resident, business owner and member of the KLDC

“I live on Franklin Street where last year, the house across the street sold for $150k. This year, it sold for $550k. We are watching massive displacement, there are families living in hotels. This is not the time that we need to invest more money in a private developer… I thought this was a progressive common council. You have all talked about wanting to represent your community. What I have seen is your support of developers. I hope this vote is the chance for you to show that you support all Kingston Citizens.”
– Ilana Berger, Kingston resident

“I think the transfer might violate the RFQ…it states that no city official shall have any personal interest, and Brad Jordan (Kingstonian Developer) sits on the Police Commission and he was on the KLDC for all of these years until he resigned only last month..the way this process has been managed reeks of impropriety, appearance and in fact.”
– Ilona Ross, Kingston/Olivebridge

The developer’s public relations team initiated a new form letter that was included in the public hearing packet (that is available on the City of Kingston’s website). It’s expected that council members will receive dozens more. More highlights:

The Bruderhof community:

The Jordan Family:

Scott Dutton/Architecture:

The City of Kingston’s Finance Committee will hold a special Finance Committee meeting on Monday, March 1 at 6:30pm (although the city calendar also says 6:00pm) where council members are expected to vote on the transfer of 21 North Front Street. Although there will not be public comment, you can call in to the number below, or stream live at the City of Kingston’s YOUTUBE channel.

Topic: SPECIAL FINANCE/AUDIT COMMITTEE MEETING
Time: Mar 1, 2021 06:30 PM 

Dial by your location
        +1 646 558 8656 
Meeting ID: 875 3817 4793
Passcode: 43255357

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