CORRECTION: The Mayor’s communication is a request to transfer City of Kingston land (a parking lot) located at 21 N. Front Street and adjacent to the Fair Street Extension to the KLDC. Closing Fair Street Extension will follow this decision at a later date. READ Finance Committee Discusses Transfer of 21 N. Front Street to KLDC on February 10
The Ulster County Industrial Development Corporation approved a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) of approximately $26.2 million dollars for the Kingstonian Project’s luxury housing and boutique hotel project. This is supposedly to cover the expense of building a $17 million dollar parking garage – a cost that is nearly $9 million dollars less than they are receiving in tax dollars from county residents.
Now, Fair Street Extension, which is both a pedestrian walk and car route from Schwenk Drive to Uptown, would be eliminated in this project, to make room for an entrance to a parking garage that would serve mainly the Kingstonian tenants and boutique hotel guests. KingstonCitizens.org has asked the Kingston Common Council during and since the Kingstonian project’s environmental review process to provide a value for the street to the public but has been utterly ignored.
Recently, the Mayor of Kingston submitted a communication to the Common Council requesting that they allow the transfer of title for the property to the Kingston Local Development Corporation (KLDC), contingent on the approval of the site plan by the Planning Board. The mayor writes that the transfer authority would be allowed based upon Not-For-Profit Corporation Law of the State of New York that authorizes a legislative body (in this case the Kingston Common Council) to do so, in order to “lessen the burden on government and in the furtherance of the public interest.” The Mayor goes on to say “It is my position that the parcel at issue is no longer needed for City purposes as it stands today.” We’d like to know what our Mayor’s position is based on. Is it the woefully insufficient traffic study, performed over a couple of hours by a consultant that the developers paid for?
Ever since Robert Moses began to allow Authorities to demolish or build whatever he wanted, they have become the most powerful means of avoiding public accountability in the so-called “public interest.” In this case, by transferring the property from the city to the KLDC, which he completely controls, Noble once again paves the way for an approval regardless of the lack of transparency in the process or having little public support.
We hope that the Common Council will disagree with the Mayor and take a different position: that a city street that outlines the historic bluff in the Uptown Stockade District, one of the oldest neighborhoods in America, has great significance and value as infrastructure that generations of Kingston residents have invested in. Is Kingston about to just give that away to these developers too? Where are the Friends of Historic Kingston on this? Like all other things related to the Kingstonian, the majority of Kingston’s historic preservation community have been publicly silent.
What is the KLDC?
The Kingston Local Development Corporation (KLDC) is a not-for-profit organization that was set up in 1994 in order, or at least in part, to take over the Kingston Business Park. Today, its board consists of 11 members, of which the Mayor is one and it is he who appoints the remaining 10 members. The lack of transparency in allowing a single person the authority to fully control the makeup of boards, committees and commissions, and thereby their decisions through appointments is just another instance of our flawed and failing charter.
The Executive Director of the KLDC is also a member of the Mayor’s administration, typically the Director of the Community Development Department, funded by the Community Development Block Grant aka Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money. Today, that person is Amanda L. Bruck who also happens to serve at the pleasure of the Mayor.
In an older article, the KLDC is described as “exempt from many rules and laws that local governments have to follow. They aren’t subject to public procurement laws that require certain contracts to be bid competitively. And debt they can issue — even if for the benefit of a local government — isn’t subject to limits established for most municipalities in the state constitution.”
As of 2021, the KLDC is composed of members of Kingston’s business community, with an emphasis on banking and real estate:
Mayor Steve Noble, President
Noble is the Mayor of Kingston and in our opinion, one of the Kingstonian developers. He appoints all members of the KLDC with no oversight. Additionally, the Executive Director of the KLDC serves at the pleasure of the Mayor.
Andi Turco-Levin, Vice President
Turco-Levin is a former Council member and Kingston mayoral candidate (R). She is a real estate agent also serves as a board member of the Kingston Uptown Business Association (KUBA). Andi lives in the Town of Ulster, which might disqualify her from serving. READ the KLDC bylaws.
B.A. Feeney, III, Treasurer
In 2014, former Alderman Brad Will, who served as the Kingston Common Council Alderman liaison to the KLDC, wrote a critical letter about the Kingston Local Development Corporation, questioning if the quasi-public agency was meeting its obligations. At that time, Will noted that the KLDCs $1.9 million dollar bank balance was held at Catskill Hudson Bank, a change from when its money was split among five or six institutions. Feeney was the KLDC treasurer then and still is today, who now serves as the assistant vice president of the Catskill Hudson Bank.
Brad Jordan, Secretary
Jordan is one of the Kingstonian developers. Although the organizational chart of 2021 shows him still serving on the KLDC, he is rumored to have just recently stepped down after 20+ years of “serving” on the board. If this rumor is true, it would be convenient that he leaves the KLDC just before this transfer of property is attempted. Jordan owns Herzog’s Plaza. He is also a member of KUBA.
Retired Kingston businessman and native Kingstonian! Have been a KLDC Board Member for the past 27 yrs. and was appointed by Mayor T. R. Gallo. (Clarification: Glenn Fitzgerald is not a real estate agent at Win Morrison. We have amended his bio line above to reflect the change)
Clement is a former Council member, Kingston mayoral candidate (D), a real estate agent at Berkshire Hathaway, also a member of KUBA. He serves on multiple city boards including the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Heritage Area Commission. On several occasions, Hayes has already voted on aspects of the Kingstonian project.
Teetsel is a retired banker and former Council member (R).
Crettien is a Business Designer with a “passion for implementing sustainable development strategies for local economies.” He is co-owner of Lunch Nightly in Kingston.
Courtney-Strong is Vice President of Courtney Strong Inc. She is a former candidate for the State Senate and Ulster County Executive office (D).
Cascario is CEO & Chairman of the Board at the insurance company the Reis Group.
The Kingston Common Council must step up to its fiduciary responsibility and provide the value of Fair Street Extension, an important city street that outlines a historic bluff in our historic Uptown Stockade district and that provides an important connection that moves traffic to and from uptown Kingston.
Call to action: On Tuesday, February 2nd at 7:30pm, please attend the Kingston Common Council remote meeting and tell them you are opposed to giving away Fair Street Extension to the Kingstonian Developers.
Sign-up to speak: Please sign-up to speak by writing to the City of Kingston Clerk Elisa Tinti at: email@example.com by 4:00pm on 2/2
Tell the Kingston Common Council that the wealthy Kingstonian developers have already being given tens of millions of dollars in public benefits, including a $26.2 million dollar 25-year tax deferment in exchange for a $17 million dollar parking garage for luxury tenants and boutique hotel guests, and at least $6.8 million in taxpayer funded grants. Demand that they step up to their fiduciary responsibilities and provide the community with the value of Fair Street Extension, which will be eliminated.
Visit KingstonCitizens.org’s FACEBOOK event
Please CLICK THE LINK to join the webinar
Or dial in by phone: +1 646 558 8656
Webinar ID: 854 7591 0827
The meeting will be live streamed on the City of Kingston YouTube channel
IDA Resolutions On The Kingstonian by Hudson Valley Vindicator
IDA Resolution: The Kingstonian Is a Commercial Project by Hudson Valley Vindicator