Kingston Food & Gardens Open House

Kingston Food & Gardens, an organic and natural foods buying club said today this it will open its doors this Saturday, Feb. 7, night during the First Saturday Art Walk. The storefront, located at 33 Broadway on the Rondout, will be open between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“Come learn about the benefits of the buying club and why organic products are better and healthy for you and your family,” the buying club said in a statement. “Yearly membership is $36, which allows members to experience up to 30 percent off the price of goods found at retail venues.”

“It’s so important that people eat clean, organic food,” said Kingston Food & Gardens President Jennifer McKinley. “Whole grains such as brown rice, millet and quinoa are essential for healthy bodies. We also offer members hundreds of other products such as raw cheeses, yogurt, agave, lentils, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. At the moment, our products are sourced from one of the largest national distributors of organic products. We are also working with a local distributor who specializes in fresh, biodynamic and organic local produce and dairy. And we are in the process of working with local growers, farmers and other producers to bring in their products as well.”

For more information, email us at: kingstonfoodandgardens@gmail.com

Working Together

Here’s in interesting story in The New York Times about a landlord in New York City offering to help out a retail tenant who owes close to $14,000 in back taxes. Why is the landlord helping? Because the retail leasee is a good tenant that draws traffic.

The lesson here is that the recession is causing businesses and property owners to reconsider prior “power dynamics” — which often favored building owners. Flexible arrangements are now a necessity as tough economic times create a more symbiotic relationship between between tenant and landlord.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Tubby Row Renovation

A notice is circulating around Spring Street informing folks of a renovation that is in the works at the famed Tubby Row building on the street.

The notice urges residents to attend a special zoning and planning board hearing on February 9 at 6 p.m. at City Hall. The project calls for creating 18 housing units in the structure. The unidentified creator of the notice questions where residents of the renovated project will park.

I’m not sure how many units are in the current structure, but would be interested in learning more about this. Alderman Mike Madsen wrote about the project on his blog. You can read it here. Madsen said he alderman Bob Senor have concerns about the project and its impact.

There concerns echo prior worries over a proposed communal living facility proposed by Common Fire last year. That project never took flight, and like Tubby Row, parking was a concern.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Hoffay’s Updates on Pike Plan, Valet Parking

Last week as I was gathering insights on the Pike Plan, I had emailed alderman Tom Hoffay (Dem., Ward 2) to get him to weigh in on the topic. Tom emailed back to say he was busy and would reply later. Well, a busy week got ahead of Tom and he replied this morning with an update of not only the Pike Plan, but other topics on his ward as well.

Thank you!

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Tom’s email:

 I’ll give you a summary of the week, where four developments and the meetings and correspondence attendant to them, gobbled up the time.

Read more…

Kingston Gives $15,500 in Presidential Race

For many Kingston residents, support of a candidate this year amounted to lawn signs and bumber stickers. According to OpenSecrets.org and Federal Election Commission data, our humble zip code of 12401 doled out just $15,500 in the 2008 presidential race.

The total contributions in 2008 for political action committees, elected officials and those seeking office totalled $49,657 for Kingston — well below the average contribution by zip code of $57,858.

If you are interested in seeing how much and to which presidential candidate that your neighbors gave to, click here, and click on the map tabs. This shows the address and amount given.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Reuse and Reclaim

Have you seen the new furniture shop uptown that makes great things out of reclaimed wood? It’s called Salvage Co. and also offers the works of local artists as well as unique items that are worth checking out.

Although Salvage Co. is not a traditional auction house, they are having an auction on February 8.

Here are the details:
Salvage Co
Presents
The Sustainability
Auction

This is a public auction
All Welcome

Offering:
Reclaimed – Recycled – Interesting Furnishings – Mid Century Furniture
Photography – Primitive Rural Artifacts
Antiques – Local Art
Architectural Elements

FEBRUARY 8th @ 2:00 PM
314 Wall St. Uptown Kingston
Preview:
Thursday, Friday, Saturday (2/5-2/7)

For more info
call
845-331-7565
wallstreetsalvage@gmail.com

Ward 9 Visioning Session is Open to All

Just wanted to share with you this email from Rebecca Martin regarding our upcoming visioning session:

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Dear all,

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.

Read more…

Give Us the Old Main Street Again

One of the editors of Retail Traffic magazine said he possibly had a story for me to do on mixed used development. Having covered the retail real estate beat for some time, I’m intrigued that this trend is gaining speed again — it backs up what I’ve been reading about elsewhere regarding how people are seeking urban environments.

The large real estate investment trusts (REITs) are taking heavy losses on their large-scale development projects as retailers fail and businesses sink. But there are smaller, more nimble companies who are working on mixed use projects that is in step with a consumer trend of shopping local. Consumers want the old main street back again.

Read more…

Future of the Pike Plan: Part II

dsc_0004-1

Several building owners who own properties on North Front and Wall streets, where the Pike Plan canopies are located, reiterated that a petition was circulated in August of last year demanding “an individual vote in regard to all plans and/or monies received and spent on the future of the Pike Plan. Without a vote, we consider this to be taxation without representation.”

Thirty seven of the roughly 42 building owners in the Pike Plan district signed the petition and are working to take control of the destiny of the Pike Plan.

Separately, around the holidays, a handful of business and building owners sent a letter to the mayor asking for the option to remove the Pike Plan.

From the building owners perspective, the Pike Plan requires a heavy tax on an already heavy tax load. What several of the building owners would like is to examine the feasibility of removing the structure and restoring the buildings to its original facades.

It’s important to note that in one study, Norman Mintz, an expert consultant known as “Mr. Main Street,” recommends hiring a main street manager and conducting a thoughtful marketing campaign.

Mintz’s final report, which was submitted in July of 2007, urged for the creation of a business improvement district as well.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Three Victorious Sisters

We’re hearing that the City of Kingston is working with Rebecca Martin’s Victory Garden Project to install a garden at City Hall — which would make it one of the first Victory Gardens to be done on a municipal site since, well, at least World War II.

There’s also a separate project involving some folks in Maine to install an organic garden at the White House. Isn’t Kingston just ahead of the curve?

Kingston’s Victory Garden will involve master gardeners, experienced farmers and volunteers working with the Kingston High School. The plan is to launch it on Earth Day, April 22. Stay tuned for details.

But what will they plant? Well, since 2009 marks 400 hundred years since ol’ Henry Hudson sailed up his namesake, the organizers wanted to grow something that reflected the area’s heritage. So the choice was to plant a “three sisters” garden, which grows corn, beans and squash in a symbiotic way. Read about this type of garden here.

If I know the organizers well, I think the kids will be donating the food produced by the garden to area soup kitchens.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Traffic, Safety in Ward 4

There’s been some good chatter on the Ward 4 discussion site tackling topics such as traffic and safety.
Jeanne Edwards has a short wish list for the area near the library. “I would like to see Franklin st one way from Clinton to Broadway, then have Vanburen St one way from Broadway to Furnace. Make Franklin, and Vanburen both sides of the street parking. It would be safer for the kids, cars, trash trucks, everything,” she wrote. “I really think this should be done. Liberty st is one way and not too many problems.”
As a resident who lives on a one-way street, I concur with Jeanne’s point of view. I don’t know anything about street design or planning, but I can say that one-way streets that are strategically place sure make a difference.
Separately, “Gerard” posted a comment on the Ward 4 site noting two armed robberies over the past two weeks, on Clinton and Liberty streets — involving delivery services. “That merits at least broad and continuous public notice and warning to all services: do not respond to calls for delivery of any kind to that area, at least not after dark,” he wrote. “Citizens deserve to be warned if they cannot at least be protected. That really is a shame for the many good people living in midtown. It seems that there could be at least one or two well lit and camera monitored sites in Midtown where a person might be reasonably safe.”
Jeanne said she lives on “Liberty St and the past year has been great. Not to many problems. I can see when the spring hits the house next store to me will be some problems. These people just moved in and there are alot of people in and out. The music has not yet hit high but its going there.
I moved in 5 years ago and it took that time to get it cleaned up, now [its] heading back to where it was.”
Certain areas of midtown have been problematic for residents, and the city is aware of the quality of life issues that affect the area, particularly safety related. But awareness is one thing and action is another. Perhaps an investment can be made to install cameras and lighting.
What do you think?

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Wisdom From Red Hook

As reported today in the Freeman, a task force was formed in Red Hook to update the town’s comprehensive plan, and recommendations to zoning law changes are now in place.

You can read the task force’s report here.

For Kingston, there’s an important lesson to be learned. The Red Hook task force was a collaborative effort that keyed in on a collective vision for the town.

This is what Kingston needs to do. Whether the topic is the Pike Plan, waterfront development or citywide economic development, the city should be working toward collaboration between residents, property owners, businesses, planners and other groups as well as elected officials.

In the meantime, the blog here at KingstonCitizens.org can serve as a forum for ideas, insights and discussions.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

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?

Shiver Me Timbers, Arggghhh Mate!

Recent moves by the city and local developers to kick start the waterfront walkway project along the Rondout is timely.

As consumers pass on taking long, expensive vacations in faraway lands, local places of interest are attractive. Therefore, the waterfront in Kingston is an asset that should be carefully managed and thoughtfully marketed.

In Rhode Island, The New York Times reports that city and state officials are leveraging the area’s maritime history to attract tourists and business. Tall Ships Rhode Island has joined the effort by launching a project that includes building a full-size replica of an 1812 ship.

For Kingston, what assets on the waterfront can be leveraged in a similar way? The Maritime Museum and Trolley Museum come to mind. And these sites can surely step-up marketing efforts to draw people in. But what else can be done?

Perhaps the city can launch a marketing campaign that spotlights the Rondout as an historical destination. To make it fun, maybe there’s a one-day event that features maritime-themed music, arts and crafts. Perhaps there could be a pirate parade for kids, and a folk rock concert in the evening.

What are your thoughts?