Strike the Pike?

This is an interesting development.

Sometime back, I learned of what  I believe to be a $1.3 million dollar amount  (in state/federal funding that has grown since) slated to be used to restore and upgrade the current Pike Plan located in Uptown, Kingston.  This sort of ‘canopy’ was popular in and around the 1970’s, when Main Streets were looking for ways to compete with the fairly new “mall mentality”.

Today, Kingston’s Pike Plan is seen by many as nothing more than an idea that didn’t stand the test of time and is now backfiring. Its canopy covers both sides of Wall Street’s sidewalks between John and North Front, and creates a dark and decayed feeling that many feel is hurting what business we have in the Uptown area.

Those in support of the development say that the Pike Plan is ‘historic’ and worth preserving.  The Uptown area where it is located is deemed historic, it is true. But there is nothing historic about the Pike Plan.  Furthermore, I have been told that the canopy is one of the last (if not the last) left in the Country.   That might seem like a good thing, except the reasons they were torn down to begin with was mainly due to their being a deterrent to foot traffic and to business in general.

I learned that the ever impressive KURA (the Kingston Uptown Resident Association) has serious reservations of this project moving forward.  The letter was written to the Mayor by Gerard T. Soldner, President of KURA.  His findings are significant.

I wish those who are so keen on this project might have had the same enthusiasm for saving what was truly historic – the old Trolley Barn on Broadway and W. Chester Street. Their lack of vision now provides residents with another drug store chain. The third within a one mile radius.

Are those at the helm  following the money, or are they doing what’s right by the uptown  residents, businesses and citizens of Kingston overall?

I’m not so certain. But what do I know?

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Since this was posted, we made a few changes to it by adding a ‘visual’ of the letter written by KURA. We expect to also include the petition of businesses and building owners concerned with the current Pike Plan effort.

Some additional reading in no particular order. More to come:

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters – Ulster Publishing
Pike Plot, The Hudson Valley Chronic
KUBAs Pike Plan Meeting – Neighborhood Watch
RUPCO: More than a Roof Overhead

6 thoughts on “Strike the Pike?

  1. Oh Rebecca, thank you for saying this. It’s rare that I go uptown and don’t rant to my husband “when will they just tear these damn things down??” It’s ghastly. Without even getting into the safety, deterring of shoppers..etc. etc. From a purely esthetic standpoint, how lovely would it be to have true storefronts with vintage-type awnings representing eras of true history of the area rather than a wild west movie set? I never understood the concept of how and why the Pike Plan happened to one of the most beautiful historic areas of the city, and worse, why it remains in its decayed state.

  2. I’ve always disliked the pseuod-historic Pike Plan and it’s true that you can’t see the stores underneath as you drive by. (Or even walk by during the Farmer’s Market where on a sunny day the overhang on the sides makes the stores underneath seem especially dark and remote.)

    One problem with removing it, however, would be that you would then notice that virtually every storefront is no longer historic (although the buildings generally are preserved above the storefront level) and many of the storefronts are, besides being generally compromised, are, in addition, just generally ugly. A new plan to remove the Pike Plan would probably require that the money be redirected toward restoring the storefronts, somewhat as Community Development money was once used (as I recall) to restore (to some extent) the storefronts on lower Broadway.

    But I haven’t seen the current plan, either, and I do imagine that the newer version of the Pike Plan as I’ve heard it described would admit more light and seem a bit less “Western.” I also suspect that it would be difficult to redirect the money that has been allocated to a new plan and so have decided to defer to Tom Hoffay’s better judgement and hope I like it.

  3. The Federal money that was initially designated for uptown streetscape refurbishing is what was manipulated. Pretty much against Hinchey’s will. Tearing down the canopy, replacing bluestone and curbs as well as moving “downroot” trees within the original sidewalk path were the original intent.
    The plan was bastardized and revamped to rebuild a failed economic stimulus. Like throwing good money after bad. My question would be, how difficult would it be to return the grant money plans back to their original intent?
    Not fighting this funding diversion when it happened is one regret I have while on the Council. For that, I am sorry.

  4. I have always thought that the Pike Plan canopy was very “western” looking from the moment I moved to Kingston in the early 1980″s. The only advantage I saw for that canopy was to protect shoppers from the elements. Unfortunately the canopies were not well designed and maintenance was very spotty. My wish would be to use that money to restore the building facades to the original architecture and use the canopies like they did in that era. Rolling up the canopies at night was a store closing ritual I remember as a child in my grandparents smalltown. The canopies were all of the same color and they were only rolled out on hot days and rainy days. It would certainly lend its charm on the uptown businesses. But I am afraid that once that money was allocated to the Pike Plan it might be hard to reverse the decision. Or they may take it back altogether. I also seem to remember that every delay in this process would cause less funds for that actual project due to deadlines??

  5. I agree wholeheartedly agree the pike plan should be torn down.

    1) Can’t see what the stores are, can’t read the signs. Bad for marketing
    2) Unsafe, dark at night, detracts from a potential 24-hour type living environment.
    3) Agreed many of the buildings lower portions are no longer historic.

    This can be remedied via: Application for main street grants – which focus on facade work.
    Anytime a new proposal comes in for site plan review there are historic district regs and design regulations – you require the upgrade as a condition of approval. With money from a main street grant available, it would not be as great a hardship.

    Here are the city codes I am talking about

    Historic districts:
    http://www.ecode360.com/ecode3-back/getSimple.jsp?custId=KI0280&guid=12699934&all=true

    Landmark design
    http://www.ecode360.com/ecode3-back/getSimple.jsp?custId=KI0280&guid=12699974&all=true#6728972

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