Understanding the Latest Changes to the Irish Cultural Center

WHAT
Come to the public hearing at City Hall, Council Chambers, on Monday, July 10th at 6:00 pm, and weigh in on the latest changes to the proposed  Irish Cultural Center (ICC) project.

WHERE
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway
Kingston, NY
Council Chambers (top floor)

WHEN
Monday, July 10th
6:00 pm
Sign-up to speak at 5:45pm

If you can’t attend the meeting, you can submit the comments in the body of this EMAIL and any other additional concerns you might have. The email will go directly to the Kingston Planning Board and City of Kingston.  We will receive a copy, too, and will compile a packet to submit to the Board at the public hearing on July 10th.

Deadline for email submissions is July 7th.

WHY
Public input on this project proposal so far has helped to make for a stronger Irish Cultural Center proposal. The public needs to keep weighing in until the project fully fits the Kingston waterfront community, or the ICC determines another location that is suited to their goals.

 

 

By Hillary Harvey 

The Irish Cultural Center proposed for Abeel Street on the Rondout in Kingston has just come back to the Planning Board with the latest in a series of updates to their project site plan.

ICC Site Plans, March 8, 2017     VIEW
Floor Plans, March 2, 2017      VIEW

Included are responses to the State Historic Preservation Office, the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Ulster County Planning Board, all of which were presented at the June 12th City of Kingston Planning Board meeting.

VIDEO: Planning Board Meeting 6/12/2017   VIEW

 

What the ICC Looks Like Now.

The Irish Cultural Center of the Hudson Valley is proposed to be a 16,213 square foot newly constructed building on a 0.43-acre parcel at 32 Abeel Street with rights, granted by the City of Kingston’s Zoning Board of Appeals, to follow the zoning for West Strand Street.  New designs indicate a red, brick building of three stories measuring 49.5' from the Company Hill Path side (South Elevation), with one story underground on the Abeel Street side (North Elevation).  There would also be an elevator accessible roof garden, with outdoor seating and a 12’ tall room that rises above the height of the building.  On the Company Hill Path side, there would be three full balconies with exterior gathering space that each run the width of the building.  The building would be a “community center” with a 171-seat theater, exhibition space, commercial kitchen, 70-seat pub/restaurant, flex space, offices for the ICC and the Ancient Order of Hibernians (the ICC’s parent organization), radio station, map room, etc.  The project would have 8 on-site parking spots and seek a parking waiver from the Planning Board for 47 parking spaces.

There will be a public hearing on these changes at the City of Kingston’s Planning Board meeting on July 10th, during their regular meeting, and comments can be made via email to the Planning Board before July 7th.  We encourage everyone to weigh in.

What still needs to be addressed.

1.  Size and Scale
The Irish Cultural Center cites the D&H Canal Offices as their inspiration, which stood at the top of Company Hill Path before being demolished long ago. Their latest updates show the building to rise 49.5' from the South Elevation grade, which exceeds the maximum allowable height for a new construction building for the R-T zone by 12.5’ and ½ story.  VIEW

In their December 9th, 2016, comment, the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission wrote, “A visibility study using multiple vantage points along public thoroughfares would illustrate how the building’s scale and massing will impact sightlines.  The West Strand from the waterfront is arguably our most cherished panorama in Kingston.  Any new development affecting this vista must be carefully scrutinized.”  

CONCERN:  These visibility studies were not included in the latest materials submitted, but are needed in order to fully understand how the ICC would appear in relationship to its surrounds. We anticipate the ICC will return to the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission on July 13th in City Hall’s Conference Room 1 at 6:30p.

 

2. Parking and Traffic
While the new inclusion of landscaping for a parking lot on the Abeel Street side of the ICC’s proposed building mimics the driveways on this residential block, this means that the parking capacity for the center has been further reduced.  The new changes increase the parking waiver being requested of the Planning Board to 47 spaces. A comparative study of the YMCA and UPAC, both in Midtown, and BSP (Backstage Productions bar/concert space) in Uptown is provided, none of which relate geographically or functionally to the Rondout Historic District or the proposed ICC. The City of Kingston Planning Board is requiring parking based upon square footage for a community center. The Ulster County Planning Board disagreed with that decision, saying that there is no definition of community center in the zoning, so parking requirements should be based upon uses, which would mean a greater number of spots are needed.

In their response to the UCPB, the ICC argues that they have provided adequate traffic and parking analyses, and state: “It is unreasonable to expect literal compliance with parking requirements for this particular ‘desired’ project…”  VIEW

The Rondout Historic District is a neighborhood hard hit by urban renewal in the 1960s and ‘70s, making it vulnerable and in need of protection. Thus, parking regulations are more particular for new construction in the historic district.  The zoning laws are specifically in place to protect the welfare of residents and should apply equally to everyone in the city. A parking waiver is not a parking solution.

CONCERN:  A professional analysis of shared parking in the Rondout, including known future development and cumulative effect, is needed.

 

3. Blasting
In their May 24th, 2017, response to the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, the ICC wrote, “Geotechnical analysis for the site suggests that excavated rock can be removed using a rock hammer. If by chance blasting would be required, all applicable permits and precautions would be conducted in accordance with the City of Kingston regulations.” VIEW

In their original comments, the Ulster County Planning Board made the following Required Modification: “The planning board should require the applicant to determine if blasting will be required and what alternatives may be available.”

CONCERN:  Nearby historic structures date to the 1800s.  The ICC should be required to conduct further study to determine definitively whether blasting will be part of their construction, prior to any potential site plan approval.

 

4.  Noise
While noise concerning industrial trash pickup has been mitigated by proposing curbside trash pick-up, with the changes comes the addition of four HVAC units on the roof.  The sound implications of this need to be studied.  Additionally, sound from the three terraces, particularly during high-occupancy events, will be heard over Gallo Park and the Rondout Creek.  Rondout dwellers and visitors know from experience how this direction of noise echoes and reverberates throughout the neighborhood.

CONCERN:  The implications of the rooftop HVAC units and the four proposed outdoor areas for noise disturbance on businesses on West Strand Street and Broadway, as well as on the neighboring family residences, need to be studied.

 

5.  Company Hill Path

The Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and the State Historic Preservation Office are both in support of the ICC’s proposal to remove and replace a bluestone retaining wall that has been damaged by erosion and runoff after the ICC removed all the trees on the property in 2013.

In response to the Ulster County Planning Board’s comment that Company Hill Path would not make a suitable primary entrance for large-scale traffic, the ICC is now proposing to use permeable pavers, accent lighting, and a railing on the portion of the Path leading up to their entrance.  VIEW 

If the City of Kingston were to allow the ICC to make these alterations to this National Historic Register Site, it would leave the majority of the Path undeveloped in this way, and create a non-cohesive look.  The City needs to have a full understanding of the lasting impacts this decision could have for the other properties adjacent to Company Hill Path.  Will those property owners be required to pay for the city to do the same to their part of the Path?  Will property owners adjacent to the Path now be required to maintain the Path?

CONCERN:  The decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow the ICC to use Company Hill Path as a sidewalk changed the essential nature of the historic Path, and any further allowances to alter the Path need to fully assess lasting implications.

 

CALL TO ACTION - WHAT THE PUBLIC CAN DO.


Come to the public hearing at Kingston City Hall, located at 420 Broadway (Council Chambers), on Monday, July 10th at 6:00 pm, and weigh in on the latest changes to the proposed Irish Cultural Center project.

If you can’t attend the meeting, you can submit the comments in the body of this EMAIL and any other additional concerns you might have, to be delivered to the Kingston Planning Board and City of Kingston.  We will receive a copy, too, and will compile a packet to submit to the Board at the public hearing on July 10th.  Deadline for email submissions is July 7th.

Public input on this project proposal so far has helped to make for a stronger Irish Cultural Center proposal. The public needs to keep weighing in until the project fully fits the Kingston waterfront community, or the ICC determines another location that is suited to their goals.

For the complete set of updated documents, VISIT and scroll down to ‘Irish Cultural Center - Abeel Street.’  To research further into the history of the ICC application, VISIT and scroll through the posts.  Read more about Hillary Harvey’s experience with the Irish Cultural Center application VISIT

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Hillary Harvey is a photographer and writer, and a zoning code activist, working for transparency and responsible development that considers the welfare of residents and small businesses. Together with her neighbors, she runs Grow the R-T Responsibly,  a neighborhood collective dedicated to that cause.  A yogi and devoted traveler, she lives in an old house in Kingston’s historic Rondout district with her college sweetheart and their three muses.

Public Educational Forum “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know” on January 28, 2017

Jon Bowermaster will be in attendance to speak and to show his film "A Pipeline Runs Through It' to be presented at the beginning of the event.

By Rebecca Martin

KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts" on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP-NY, Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power and a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson. The short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” will be presented by Writer, filmmaker and adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council Jon Bowermaster.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

 

VIEW Event on Facebook for up-to-date information on this important local event.

 

Kingston, NY – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property—one pipeline carrying Bakken crude oil south from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, and the other carrying refined products north. The 170+ miles of pipelines, together with nearly 13 miles of lateral pipelines, would impact 31 communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties, as well as 30+ communities in New Jersey. The carrying capacity of each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) per day, which would more than double the number of trains carrying volatile Bakken crude to the Port of Albany at the peak of Bakken crude production in 2014.  The increase in crude-by-rail volume means that the project will also impact many communities north and west of Albany through which the CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines run.

The proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which stated that the Pilgrim Pipelines project “…would cross 257 streams and waterbodies (232 along mainline pipelines and 25 along laterals), including the Hudson River (two times) and multiple major and minor tributaries of the Hudson.  There are also 296 (9.2 linear miles) crossings of wetlands; including 25 crossings of NYSDEC protected freshwater wetlands (approximately 19 along mainline pipelines and 6 along laterals). Additionally, there will be four pump stations and 215 permanent access roads and temporary access roads at every mile.”

Pipelines would run through several sections of the City of Kingston, with even more pipelines crossing through the Town of Ulster.  It is also being proposed that one of the four pump stations (the only one that would be located near a residential area)  is to be placed only 200 feet away from a trailer park on Sawkill Road in Ulster, also potentially impacting the Town of Kingston, as well.

KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to present “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts" on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  The afternoon will begin with opening comments by award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Jon Bowermaster, followed by his short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” (that features several of our guest panelists that afternoon).

A powerpoint on the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project will be presented by our panelists that include:  Jeremy Cherson, Campaign Advocacy Coordinator, Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg, Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines NY (CAPP-NY), Jennifer Metzger, Director, Citizens for Local Power and Rosedale Town Board Member and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson.  They will give an update on the Pilgrim Pipelines proposal as well as discuss next steps in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) and what “Involved” agencies in Ulster County (including the City of Kingston, the Towns of Ulster, Marlbourgh, Lloyd, Esopus, Saugerties, Rosendale, New Paltz, Plattekill, and Ulster County) can do in anticipation of the draft ‘Scope’ document.

“Scoping” is a “process that develops a written document that outlines potential environmental impacts of an action (the project) that will have to be addressed in a DEIS or EIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement).  Its purpose is to narrow issues and ensure that the draft EIS is accurate and complete, ensuring public participation, open discussion, and inclusion of all relevant public issues for a final written scope.”  It will provide an opportunity for the public to identify local impacts that are of concern to them and their individual city/town in the Pilgrim Pipelines proposals path (that includes a pumping station in the Town of Ulster).

A question and answer period will follow, as well as a call to action and next steps for all participants.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

Snow date: Sunday, January 29th from 1 - 4 pm at Kingston City Hall.  For updates, visit KingstonCitizens.org on Facebook.

For more information, contact rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org.

MORE READING:

http://www.kingstoncitizens.org/2016/11/21/proposed-pilgrim-pipeline-project-why-kingston-and-the-town-of-ulster-must-stay-the-course/

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About KingstonCitizens.org: KingstonCitizens.org is a community-based organization committed to improving the quality of life of Kingston residents through accountability and transparency between the people and their local government. By providing citizens with current and important information through better communication, their work is meant to nurture citizen participation and empowerment through programs and education.

About Jon Bowermaster: Writer, filmmaker, and adventurer, Jon is a six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council. One of the Society’s ‘Ocean Heroes,’ his first assignment for National Geographic Magazine was documenting a 3,741-mile crossing of Antarctica by dogsled. Jon has written a dozen books and produced/directed more than fifteen documentary films.

His Oceans 8 project took him and his teams around the world by sea kayak over the course of ten years (1999-2008), bringing back stories from the Aleutian Islands to French Polynesia, Gabon to Tasmania, and more, reporting on how the planet’s one ocean and its various coastlines are faring in today’s busy world.

Jon lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. He is President of Oceans 8 Films and One Ocean Media Foundation, and chairman of the advisory board of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and a board member of the Celine Cousteau Film Fellowship.

About Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper:  Jeremy earned his MS in Environmental Policy at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy in Annandale-on-Hudson in New York’s Hudson Valley. Jeremy first engaged on environmental issues in Washington, D.C., organizing support for the Waxman-Markey climate bill for Environment America in 2007. He has since been an AmeriCorps member in central California, monitored conservation easements in Alabama and Georgia, and served as an assistant camp director at an urban environmental summer camp in Atlanta. Jeremy now serves as the Advocacy Coordinator for Riverkeeper.

About Sue Rosenberg of the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP):  a retired social worker was originally from NYC, Sue has lived in Saugerties - in the beautiful Hudson Valley for the last 35 years. She has been involved with peace and social justice work most of her life and most recently co-founded Frack Free Catskills involved in NYS's fight to ban fracking, is an organizer with Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines, is one of the founders of the Extreme Extractive Energy Collaborative- a nationwide collaboration of grassroots organizations fighting all forms of  extreme energy which negatively impact communities from extraction to use  and for a truly just energy future.

About Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power:  Director of Citizens for Local Power, Jen holds a Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in environmental politics and policy. She is also a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and introduced the first resolution in New York State opposing the Pilgrim Pipelines in November 2014 and various resolutions relating to the SEQR for this project. As a Councilwoman, she has been working to inform and engage other affected municipalities along the pipelines’ path on this issue.

About Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson:  Andy Bicking oversees Scenic Hudson's government advocacy. He has been instrumental in the passage of state budgets that have preserved conservation funding, and engaging members of Congress in environmental and farmland protection projects in the Hudson Valley. He also spearheaded advocacy leading to passage of an expanded bottle bill and the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act, and advanced work of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s natural resources sub-committee, the Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Coastal Management Program, Hudson River Valley Greenway and Highlands Conservation Act, and been on the front lines of the campaign to rid the Hudson River of PCB contamination for nearly two decades.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Bicking directed Scenic Hudson's environmental education, public events, and grassroots activism efforts. He oversaw the Great River Sweep, an annual volunteer cleanup of the Hudson River's shores resulting in the removal of 400 tons of trash over 10 years.

Mr. Bicking holds a bachelor's degree from Oregon State University. He has held leadership roles in a variety of community organizations.

What’s the Process? New Public Hearing Scheduled for the ICC (Irish Cultural Center)

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Last night, the Kingston Planning Board held its regular meeting with many items to discuss, one of which was the ongoing Irish Cultural Center (ICC) being planned in downtown Kingston. In September, citizens anticipated the planning board to make its determination in October for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA),  but it was postponed because the ICC's proposal scaled down its size (by 4.5%) after what appeared to be the public's insistence for a project smaller in size and scale, and in pressing for a positive declaration in SEQR.  Later we also learned that it might have been influenced by a recent communication from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in late September.

When speaking to scale, they reported that, "The scale is very large in comparison to surrounding commercial and residential buildings."  In regard to 'Massing and Design Features':  "The rectangular flat roofed façade with full width double height porches, does relate to the historic façade of the D+H Paymaster Building that was located adjacent to this site. Though the scale of the proposed building is much larger."

READ   SHPO's letter to the Kingston Planning Board dated 9/30/16

No matter. A new draft of plans were presented last evening. The good news is that the ICC is listening. They have removed a proposed banquet facility and commercial kitchen that would eliminate parking by 2 parking spots (from 39 to 37). The proposed theater also decreased in size to 171 seats in total. There is a good description of all of these things in the attached video.

VIEW video from last evening's meeting.

So what are the next steps in the process for the public? 

A public hearing is imminent, where the public will have the opportunity to view the new draft plan (available in the planning office, and not online) and then provide comments to the planning board for their consideration.  Last night, the client presented its new draft and the planning board announced what appeared to be a decided upon date for a public hearing of November 2nd.

According to the City of Kingston Zoning Code Section 405-30 , it states that #6 " The Planning Board may hold a public hearing on the site plan if it determines that the matter is of wide public interest. If such a hearing is held, it shall be held within 62 days of the official submission date of the application, and notice shall be given at least five days prior to the date of such hearing by publication in the official City newspaper."

If we are correct, that means that the planning board has 62 days to orchestrate a public hearing.  In this case based on a November 2nd public hearing, there are only 12 business days to respond and, according to comments made in the video, a final draft plan isn't yet complete for your review even though the clock is already ticking.

So how does the planning board conclude review time before public comment? What's their process and in this case, does it provide ample time for all parties involved?  It all seems so arbitrary even if it isn't.

Finally, in an article released by the Daily Freeman today about the meeting last night, we were disheartened by the headline,  "Irish Cultural Center attorney says opponents of Kingston project are 'dishonest'".   After reviewing video from last night, we realized that Mr. Pordy's comments were not taken out of context. In our 10 years of doing this work,  we can tell you that citizens truly advocating for their community are not dishonest. They deserve respect, and are wading through a maze of new information while trying to understand how city government works. It's a very steep learning curve, and the majority of citizens that we have had the privilege in getting to know all want nothing more than to support their city's best interests where they live and do business.   -  RM