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.
Recently, on a block in our Ward (between Brewster and W. Chester Street), we made another discovery of dangerous knives being sold at ‘Head to Toe’, an establishment that is known as a head shop in our neck of the woods. I sent a letter to Chief Keller and within 48 hours, the knives (and some other items in their inventory) were removed. This is the second establishment in a block radius selling such items – illegal weapons some of them – in a three year period. Within close proximity to the Kingston High School, Sophie Finn Elementary School – and a residential neighborhood teaming with young families and a large elderly population.
Over the years, several residents in Ward 9 – myself, Arthur and Lowell Thing – made a big effort to work with the city in support of a new comprehensive planning process. Something that we called ‘Kingston 2020’ and one that we hoped would be embraced as a citywide effort. Different from the way it had been done up until this time. In broad strokes, an effort that was all inclusive and would not only tap into the city’s important stakeholders, but the citizens equally as well. One that would allow for complete transparency – from choosing a proper consultant for a city such as ours – to making a strategic and meaningful effort to bring the people together and to build, in time, a more cohesive and modern place to live. One that could represent the changes that have occurred in it’s population and updating the current patchwork zoning ordinances et al so to give our town a fighting chance to move forward with a current and up-to-date business plan intact. Some of you are aware that the Mayor and Suzanne Cahill applied for grant monies from the Community Block Grant in the tune of $50,000 from this process that we undertook with the city. Those monies were initially approved to start a planning process, but then reallocated to what may be an uptown manager – or some other project TBA based on what I’m reading in the papers. Our hopes and hard work, were dashed.
This upcoming visioning session was spearheaded, organically – from these and other processes we’ve witnessed – both progressive and not. An experiment that will span a block in the city of Kingston. A block that although has several important businesses, is for the most part vacant. Five properties for sale, for lease or for rent – and buildings that are in serious disrepair, but with great potential. The process will include a model of the street made from photos taken from Brewster to W. Chester. A visual for the people living close by to brainstorm, to be idealistic, and to simply have a chance to be included by sharing their best case scenario of business and safety in their neighborhood.
We are taking the time to contact the owners of vacant buildings so to get the properties current rental offerings, etc. I am finding in this work that the owners are more then happy to be flexible if the concept for any given business is strong and serious. Our goal is to take all of the information and findings from this session to create a marketing plan for our neighborhood to attract entrepreneurs in and outside of the city. As far reaching even as New York City.
So far, I have received about a dozen emails from residents on the Ward 9 email list who are not only excited about this process, but who are offering fantastic ideas even prior to the 14th. The energy created by this work I expect will not only help to bring more of the neighbors together to take stock in what happens on this block, but also will make them more aware of what business currently exist. Furthermore, my hope is that it will encourage establishments who may have seen themselves as separate entities to become more accountable for what they do and sell, and better neighbors too. It can only lead to a positive outcome.
KingstonCitizens.org, as you are all familiar – is a citizen run site that supports good, open communication for all. It’s something that I am proud to be a part of – and I wanted for the business associations here to realize – that we work to shine the light on all of our businesses and business associations as they are now. Here is the link to the page: http://kingstoncitizens.org/business.html . Like everything else, we would like to have your feedback in how we can help further your efforts.
If you are free that afternoon, I’d like to ask that you come. Not only to take part in the process but to offer your important input as we proceed. I would also like to recommend that if you are not on our mailing list, or a member of one of the nine Yahoo! Groups at KingstonCitizens.org to please sign up. If you need any assistance in doing so, please let me know. I would be happy to help you.
Feel free to send this to anyone you feel would be interested. Press release is below.
January 22, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
‘Ward 9 is Mine’ for Valentine’s Day: Residents are invited to participate in “Ward 9 is Mine!” – a visioning session to create ideas and shares wishes of businesses in the Ward 9 section of Kingston
KINGSTON – Citizens are invited to participate in a visioning session called “Ward 9 is mine!”, a project to gather ideas and wishes for the vacant commercial buildings that line Broadway between Brewster and West Chester streets in Ward 9 on Saturday, February 14 at 2:30 p.m. in the Kingston Food and Gardens space at 33 Broadway in Kingston.
All Ward 9 residents and current businesses are invited to attend as well as anyone who is interested in what a citywide comprehensive planning process might look like.
“This session is way for residents to collectively gather a vision for the types of businesses they would like to see in their neighborhood,” said Arthur Zaczkiewicz, one of the organizers. “What better way to spend a few hours on Valentine’s Day than by falling in love with your neighborhood again?”
Inspired by a recent discovery of dangerous knives on their block, KingstonCitizens.org organizers Rebecca Martin and Zaczkiewicz decided to work with their neighbors to hold the visioning session, which is a technique used by communities to create a short- and long- term visions of their neighborhoods, towns and cities. The process involves creating a setting where people share ideas, dreams and wishes – which then leads to actionable steps to make the ideas real.
Seating is Limited. Please bring a chair or comfortable mat. Clip boards will be provided. A muralist will be on hand to document what our new block on Broadway could look like in the near future from all citizen comments.