Future of the Pike Plan

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.

What do you think?

15 thoughts on “Future of the Pike Plan”

  1. Gee, I’d like to know more. I’d like to know the costs and the pros and cons, like what it costs to take it down, what about snow on the sidewalks, what’s going to replace them.
    All those votes, and no comments? That surely does not seem right.
    People with a financial interest, like some repair costs facing them, they will surely vote to whatever might save them money. They are strongly motivated. Is anyone else so motivated. Absent a plan, I could not possibly vote to take them down

  2. By the way: wow!
    These sites are really really nicely done!
    The relates links on the page are outstanding! This is an excellent place to find out and participate in Kingston.
    How about some kind of party to celebrate this work and get more people invited?

    • Thank you! And a party is a great idea. What a great way to build community, face to face.

      And yes, there is a tool used to block repeat voters on polls. We use wordpress, which is a great program, easy to learn and fun too. Thanks for commenting!

      — Arthur Zaczkiewicz

  3. The Pike Plan must have seemed like a good plan at the time and seems to have enjoyed the support of the uptown business community for a number of years. However, to me and others I know who care about Kingston’s architectural heritage, it was always a bad idea – unhistorical (there never was such a canopy in the 19th century) but pretending to be, a bit heavy and dark underneath (it’s possible to have a canopy that lets light through), and challenging (and unpopular for those who have to pay for it) to maintain. It also tends to obscure the lower part of the building facades, which is the real historic architecture (except in a few cases where it has already been compromised).

    An alternative might be a free-standing translucent or transparent cover that doesn’t attach to the buildings yet provides cover from the elements and is designed not to look like something historical that never was. Such a replacement would perhaps be paid for and maintained by the city, not the property owners, as a complement to the sidewalk, benches, and landscaping.

    Another alternative would be no canopy at all. The building facades and their variety of styles and colors would become apparent to the eye.

    Incidentally, have you noticed that during the Farmer’s Market days, the canopy tends to hide the buildings and their businesses?

    Other successful historic uptowns do not seem to need a canopy to succeed (see Hudson and Saratoga Springs among others).

    Removing or rethinking the canopy ought to be step number 1 toward rethinking and remarketing uptown Kingston. If the money is already there, let’s think of a better way to spend it!

  4. Party?! Yes! KingstonCitizens.org will have a party to promote the blog and the site this year.

    Lots of good stuff on it’s way.

  5. Lowell,

    Brilliant idea with the free-standing canopy! That would leave the historical aspects in tack, and create a functional element too.

    I think the issue for some people is the cost. What’s the best use of taxpayer money? Need more info!

  6. actually, i believe the petition to remove the pike plan was distributed among building owners, not business owners.

    as building owners where the pike plan abuts, we pay an additional tax to “maintain” it – hundreds of dollars each year for our building alone, although we do not own the pike plan. perhaps if residents of kingston vote in favor of the structure the tax could be equally distributed among all residents.

    using these state funds to eliminate the dilapidated 1970’s hodgepodge and returning the building facades to their historical integrity seems like a much more reasonable and financially prudent solution.

    sadly, i think the majority of people that claim they like the pike plan are reacting to being conveniently protected from the elements. awnings and simple umbrellas can function to ‘protect’ people from inclement weather and maintenance becomes a much smaller issue.

    living with and paying for the pike plan i am more familiar with it as something that acts as an unnecessary dark tunnel, blocking sunlight, sight lines and trapping cigarette smoke.

    the architecture uptown is like a timeless bespoke suit. the pike plan is like a poorly made, ill-fitting belt. seams are splitting , and it’s cutting off circulation – but it has some nostalgic sentiment attached to it so people are reluctant to eliminate it. let’s embrace the spirit of change and clear this bulky clutter. i truly believe the buildings themselves would breathe a collective sigh of relief.


    denise orzo

  7. Thank you for your comment, Denise, all excellent points.

    It certainly seems unfair to have an extra tax in place for building owners. I didn’t realize that was the case.

    Maybe this is a vote that should be with the building owners alone since they have been footing the bill? Either way, it seems that there needs to be more discussion about this. It’s a complex issue with many moving parts such as benefits to building owners, businesses, shoppers and tourists as well as the historical implications, among other things.

  8. From Adam Synder:

    I grew up in uptown Kingston and remember what it was like both before and after the Pike Plan was installed.
    To the best of my recollection, from the mid-to-late 70s, there were plenty of thriving businesses along Wall Street. We did most of our shopping there, and it was also a great place to hang out.

    Things seem to have really started to change when the mall opened up in around 1982. The mall not only created an instant, competitive, and trendy (at the time) Main Street, it actually sucked some anchor businesses from uptown like JC Penneys, which was right on Wall Street, and Sears, which was a stone’s throw away in the plaza.

    No one ever was every dissuaded from shopping in the stockade district because the display windows were somehow rendered too dark by the covered walkways. The porticos had a unifying effect, and it really made the whole area come together.

    The stockade district has been the victim of the same effects as main streets throughout the country. The suburban trend refocused the retail out on the business highway, and the town was left with an ever dwindling supply of viable businesses.

    I applaud the various alternative businesses that have made uptown their home in the years since. I know it hasn’t been easy. At the same time, I think some of these businesses have to swallow the bitter pill that their success or failure depends to a large extent on their own efforts. Stores have to be willing to stay open on Sundays, perhaps for some time at a loss, until visitors who would like to stroll around on Sundays begin to increase because the word is out that something more is happening than the ghost town routine. Building owners have to try a little more strenuously to encourage retail stores to occupy the first floors, instead of the myriad of odd office-type businesses that could be on the 2nd floors. And perhaps some kind of better incentives could be offered by the city to make it more viable for new businesses to have a chance in this zone.

    But the idea that taking the porticos down will magically make the businesses work better? I don’t believe it, even if there are some urban planning models that suggest it. There are other cities that have covered sidewalks that manage to have viable businesses.

    And, as far as the porticos not actually matching the buildings historically? I’m about as obsessive a Kingston history nut as there is, and the mix-and-match doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Every visitor I’ve ever brought uptown, and I’ve brought many visitors uptown, has found the Pike Plan charming. And indeed it is charming.

    Maybe alter the little sidewalk extensions with the trees somewhat, if a little extra parking might help the situation, but Save The Pike Plan!

    yours truly,
    Adam Snyder

  9. Adam Snyder raised a good point that the stores need to be opened on Sunday and have later weeknight hours. In the past only one day during the week was open to night hours. You can’t sustain a business with 9 to 6 hours. Most people who would be doing the shopping are at work. I am divided about the canopies. The canopies are great for when you have inclement weather but I also notice that it is hard to see showrooms/windows in the shadows which is caused by the canopies. Other areas do not have a canopy such as Hudson, Rhinebeck, Saratoga. What really needs to be repaired are the planters that are falling apart and the sidewalks. Also a regular cleaning would go along way. My first impression of that area was at night when I was new to Kingston. I saw the lights on the trees and it was almost magical. It looked charming with the canopies but now…Not sure. Perhaps I am looking at them in their current disrepair and it is not so charming anymore.

  10. I kind of like Lowell Thing’s take on the matter. I still don’t know what the costs, short term and long term would be.
    The Pike Plan grew from an attractive visualization of Uptown. I would suggest that the alternatives come with a visualization.
    I think any plan has to entice pedestrian traffic. That’s an integrated plan for walking and sitting and gathering and parking and traffic flow.
    And I would certainly start connecting Uptown and Midtown… The Kirkland, 721 and Keegan Ales and Academy Green are already in place. Pedestrian traffic to Kingston Plaza could really use improving. And there’s a ball field and here comes the railroad and bike trails.
    The canopy alone is really just one part. A sister theatre Uptown connected to UPAC, or not, would be a grand addition, too.
    Rosendale, Rhinebeck, Saugerties, Woodstock… but nothing like that in Kingston.
    Congratulation and sincere thanks to Kingstonnavigator! Well done! Hear! Hear!
    (When do you think the Kingston Times or the Freeman will take note?)

  11. Gerald,

    Thanks for the kudos!

    The Kingston Times have been an enormous supporter for KingstonCitizens.org from the very beginning. We have so much press – and Arthur and I will scan and make it available in the near future, as it is…as Arthur puts it….the citizen’s legacy at this time.

    The Freeman slow to catch on – though they did do a recent piece on the Victory Garden project. Front page. For that, we are grateful. Lots of good connections came by the way of that piece.

    What’s important as discussed – is word of mouth! Spread the word, all – that the citizens have a voice. Have had a voice – and we want to make it bigger, stronger and useful to helping to develop our home.

  12. WE have $1.2 million in funds available to fix the pike plan. If after it is fixed it still is hated by all, then they can raise the money to take it down. There is no money to take it down right now.

    I do believe strongly that the pike plan area should form it’s own bid and then control the pike plan. However – that is for the future. Right now, the $1.2 million is use it to fix or lose it. Let’s fix it!

  13. Thanks John for your comment. It’s important to note that part of the $1.2 million in funding includes a $100,000 bond that will be a levy for the 42 or so building owners in the Pike Plan area. This is on top of the added taxes they pay already.

    — Arthur Zaczkiewicz


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