Imagining ‘Pop-up Stores’ in Kingston

By Arthur Zaczkiewicz

There’s an interesting Q&A story in the Watershed Post about a project aimed at re-imagining empty storefronts in the town of Roxbury. Designers are beginning work on creating “fantasy” retail spaces on Main Street, which will be open to the public for a month. The article is an interview with the mastermind behind the effort, architect Andrew Williams. Read about it here.

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Youth Build Helps Maintain the City of Kingston’s Foreclosed Properties

By Rebecca Martin
(excerpts taken from a letter generated by Fire Chief Rick Salzmann)

With the increasing number of foreclosures that the city of Kingston is experiencing, Building safety is receiving daily complaints regarding properties that are vacant and not being maintained.    In an effort to better deal with these properties, Ward 9 Alderman Hayes Clement suggested a meeting with Bonnie Landi at YouthBuild. As a result, Youth Build will cut grass and perform basic yard work at vacant properties, where owners have ignored the notices that the Building Safety Department have sent to them.

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A Local Currency? Introducing Hudson Valley Current

By Rebecca Martin

Last year, I received a phone call from a fairly new resident to Kingston named Sean Griffin who wished to discuss a great idea.  He called it the “Hudson Valley Currency”  back then –  a local currency he and his group hoped to design to work in the area.

How would a local currency be implemented into our current system you ask? was able to get the lowdown from David McCarthy, one of the three partners (the others are Sean and Chris Fenichel-Hewitt who we hope to catch up with at a later date) to explain.

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Breaking the Chain

Kingston's new "Harmacy". Poetic justice, as recalled by Rebecca Martin
Kingston’s new “Harmacy”. Poetic justice, as recalled by Rebecca Martin

By Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Did you see this pic of the new CVS on Rebecca Martin’s Facebook page? The “poetic justice” as described in the caption is spot on. A chain store’s impact on a community can have long-term negative effects. Most obviously is the fact that profits generated by a chain store aren’t reinvested into the local economy as is the case with local, independent businesses. This is at the core of why shopping and buying local contributes to the creation of a sustainable community.

If you have a minute, please comment here on the local businesses you support:

Citizens Share Their Ideas on Building a New Local Economy

When it comes to good ideas there is certainly never a lack of them. The problem is always finding ways to funnel and collect this information so it can make an impact.

With that in mind, we decided to reach out to the citizens of Kingston to learn what it is that they think the city should pursue in the way of building a local economy.

I’d like to keep this going so to hear from more of you.   If you’d like to participate, answer the question below and include your name, occupation and community affiliation (s).  Send it to us at:


– Rebecca Martin

What kind of industry or small business venture would you like to see in the city of Kingston? What incentives could the city of Kingston offer to attract it, and what obstacles are currently in the way?

Diane Reeder
Executive Director, Queens Galley

“In 1987 the entire state was in a recession and Martin Marietta, the community’s major employer, had laid off several thousand employees. There were nearly a million square feet of vacant retail space and downtown vacancies were approaching thirty percent. Kicked off the project in 1989 with the idea that “economic gardening” was a better approach for Littleton (and perhaps for Kingston too!) than “economic hunting”.  Simply grow our own jobs through entrepreneurial activity instead of recruiting them. They have developed a model that WORKS…and at least 14 other communities have used that model successfully. We can too.”

Adam Snyder
Writer/Musician/KMOCA Founder

“A supermarket located right off 9W would draw drive-up as well as neighborhood business. Something less obvious but important would be a place to mail things combined with photocopying and such (The US Post Office is cutting back at the moment which is why I think it would have to be a Mailboxes Inc type thing).  Restaurants alone will never be enough, not even for a seasonal/weekend economy.  If we want small businesses to operate in the Rondout, we need to give them the basic resources to do so. This includes businesses in commercial spaces as well as cottage industries out of nearby homes. Cottage industries may not seem like much, but in an era when it’s hard to attract medium-to-large businesses, a patchwork of smaller businesses may be what sustains us. Rondout isn’t the only neighborhood in Kingston, but what’s good for Rondout is good for Kingston. And more resources downtown means less traffic jams along Broadway.”

Melissa Everett, Ph. D.
Excecutive Director, Sustainable Hudson Valley

“Kingston could distinguish itself by developing a green building materials and products cluster, with appropriate manufacturing and assembly as well as distribution, sales and marketing, installation and support. Green building is a vast, fast-moving industry. From structural materials to windows to paints to roofing to lighting to landscaping materials, the industry is developing new technologies with reduced carbon footprints, less toxic emissions, greater materials and water efficiency and use of recycled materials, and lower impacts on the surrounding site. LEED, the primary industry standard, also gives points for sourcing supplies within a 500 mile radius of a job site. As New York and the Hudson Valley strengthen their commitment to green building codes within the state’s energy and climate action plans, opportunities to supply the construction and renovation industries will grow. Kingston has a solid cluster of relevant businesses already, including lighting, appliance, electronics and masonry supply outlets, solar installers, and a flagship publication, New York House. It has a local commitment to the “green corridor” along Broadway, where bike racks will soon be installed on every block. It also has complementary clusters in arts and the digital/ creative economy. Green alternatives in building move into the marketplace when consumers find them not only practical but beautiful. The potential for marrying green building with artistic and creative applications from furniture and interior design to landscape architecture, could give Kingston an enormous advantage in developing a green building cluster.”

K.J. McIntyre
Realtor and Co-Founder, Kingston Digital Corridor

“Years ago, George Allen suggested an architectural collete, maybe part of SUNY, based in Kingston. We really do have a great inventory of American architecture, a little weak on the contemporary but that’s within easy reach”.

Paul Joffe
Entrepreneur, Selling and Renovating, slowly.
– Read Paul’s article “Tourism In Kingston” from 2008.

“Kingston needs to make residency a 6 month process to avoid new residents who can not support themselves without local taxpayer assistance for six months. Kingston needs to hire a lobbyist in albany to advocate and promote itself. Crime is a quality of life deal-breaker, a dis-incentive to investment and settlement, and will lead to a spiral that can not be turned around. The city police are a valuable resource led by a competent, responsible chief and one of the best investments that can be made in the short term with the limited funds available. contracts with other city employees must be re-negotiated however possible. those who contribute their time and enthusiasm towards the improvement of the city should be recognized and given jobs. where salary is not available, real power to make change is often a sufficient substitute. those who agree on 90% should not spend any of their time arguing about the other ten. in a crisis only clear basic changes can be made, energy should go to consensus. by law, the subject and time of all meetings must be made public and easily available well in advance (1 week or more). those who schedule unannounced public meetings should be fined substantially. the subject of public meetings must be determined a week in advance and not be changed within a week of the meeting. notices must be unavoidable so that even the busiest citizen is informed. that means all forms of media must be notified and all public meetings should be scheduled such that working people are able to attend. the object is to have the greatest number of attendees under strict parliamentary rules limiting speaking time and relevancy to the subject of the meeting.”

Andrea Perrino

“We need to extend Technology jobs and consulting jobs into the Hudson Valley/Kingston area and get away from Retail/Medical industry. SUNY NP has a program and contest in the Business program on Business Plans (I’m currently working on one). They have great ideas”.

Gerald Berke

“We recently lost to the town of ulster a food packaging company. That, and others like solar manufacturing.  I don’t know what the city did in the way of offering either business incentives to be in Kingston or why we might have lost.  Some years ago, a random thing, a business man was telling me about his considerations for Midtown.  He said, to my surprise, it was hard for people to find the place, hard to give directions. We need better signage in the city inside and out! The idea about a KIngston Corridor struck me about then, and I’ve been poking at it for some years, rather ineffectively.  I brought the idea and some drawings to the city a long time ago, but there were no ears.  That seems to be changing now.  We have which is making a huge difference as there is someone observing and encouraging.

Some public celebration of new business: I know of none. This city does nothing, no welcome, no publicity, no thanks.  I would think having the mayor or a city committee,  meeting and greeting new business and getting that in the paper would help a lot to show we are friendly. What we see, surely, is that we are not.  For instance, there is no guidance on the web site for new business out reach.  One lady who recently bought a house from the city and has repaired and improved it gloriously had reached out to me to help her get through delays that threatened her ability to close the deal.

Andi Turco-Levin
Realtor and City of Kingston Ward 1 Alderman

“A historic preservation program associated with the college, perhaps to offer some sort of degree at the end. Somewhere in the mix, the City of Kingston could work with targeted neighborhoods to restore the blocks of vintage Queen Anne architecture (like Downs or Elmendorf Sts for example) There is grant money for historic preservation in some places. Perhaps the program would draw young people looking to learn about historic preservation (which is a growing industry) to live in Kingston while studying. We need to recognize how important this is to the future of the historic neighborhoods of Kingston. This city has a gold mine of potential preservation projects.”

Barbara Sarah and Jennifer Schwartz-Berky
Barbara is founder of the Oncology Support Program at Benedictine Hospital and the director of Third Opinion. Jennifer is Deputy Director, Ulster County Planning Board and Visiting Lecturer in Environmental and Urban Studies at Bard College.

“Kingston should create “cultural districts,” which is something that over 100 cities across the US have done in the last decade.  Many of these communities have successfully positioned the arts at the center of their revitalization strategies.  A number of well-documented studies demonstrate a very high return on local governments’ investments in such a strategy.  This “place-based” policy typically involves tax credits and other incentives for artists and arts-related businesses to support their work and the improvement of spaces within specific mixed-use areas of the city that are targeted for revitalization.  According to a study by the Americans for the Arts, “Cultural districts boost urban revitalization in many ways: beautify and animate cities, provide employment, attract residents and tourists to the city, complement adjacent businesses, enhance property values, expand the tax base, attract well-educated employees, and contribute to creative, innovative environment.” The New York State Department of Labor reports that Ulster County has nearly twice the number of artists (1.9 times the average) of any place in the country, which is high even compared to our neighboring counties (which average 1.3 times the average). Kingston is the perfect candidate for a successful cultural districts strategy.”

Arthur Zaczkiewicz
Freelance Writer and Editor and Garden Committee Co-chair, Kingston Land Trust

“Bicycle (repairs and rentals) and Fishing Tackle shop in the Rondout. During the warmer months, bikes and fishing is the merchandising focus while snowshoes and snowboards are sold and rented during the winter. A recent Sea Grant Study revealed that the number one natured-based activity for tourists and residents of Kingston, Beacon and Cold Spring was bicycling. The number one water recreation activity was fishing. And the number one cultural activity was visiting the waterfront to dine and shop.

Urban Organic and Hyrdoponic Farming Industry. Take the old Kings’ Inn and convert it to a hyrdoponic farm, which sells vegetables year-round to the community. Can employ between 10 and 15 people, perhaps in a co-op profit sharing model. The roof can be modified with solar panels to help offset the energy costs.

Redevelopment Initiative of Existing Commercial and Industrial Space. Here, new businesses would be encouraged to participate in this program with tax abatements and other incentives. They would relocate into existing buildings in Kingston that are refurbished by Kingston-based contractors who hire local helpers who may have been under or unemployed. This helps local contractors as well as local people while making use of preexisting buildings (green) instead of building new, which is not green or sustainable. Tax breaks would be big enough to discourage new construction.

Incentives: City-awarded tax abatements and tax breaks — especially for small businesses or start ups.

Obstacles: A lack of creative thinking.”

Making Citywide Composting Profitable

In today’s Daily Freeman, Andi Turco-Levin announces her desire to get behind a citywide composting program for the city of Kingston.

There are many components to discuss on the subject such as residents doing more of it themselves (by mulching leaves and composting bigger pieces of yard waste) and mandatory leaf bagging (a source of controversial discussion).

But whether it’s left curbside, bagged, bundled – whatever – the fact remains that the city is scrambling to find a place for yard waste, as we no longer have a place for it as we have in the past. So what to do?

Take a look at the City of Palo Alto, CA’s model. Interesting indeed. (Taken from the facebook page. Thanks Brad Will)

What can you do in the meantime?

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Leaf Mulching
Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Composting Yard Waste Catches Up With Kingston Library Director Margie Menard

When I learned that the Kingston Library was offering a tour of it’s facility on Tuesday, March 9th at 6:00pm by Margie Menard (the Director herself),  I simply couldn’t wait to share the news.

Margie took a moment to answer a few of our questions. We hope that some of you can make the tour tomorrow night and that even more of you will consider becoming a member if you are not one already.

Kingston, NY Public Library. Become a member!

Rebecca Martin:  How long have you worked at the Kingston Library?

Margie Menard: I started working at Kingston Library as the Reference Librarian in November of 2004. I was later promoted to Assistant Director and took my current position as Director in April 2008

RM: Could you give us an overview of your programs in 2010?

MM: We have some really terrific programs lined up for 2010. We will be continuing some of our longstanding, popular programs as well as adding some new programs. Continuing programs include our literary discussion group which meets on the 4th Monday of every month at noon. This group discusses a broad range of literature from classics to contemporary novels and poetry. We also have an extremely popular Classics in Religion discussion group that meets Wednesday mornings.  For one hour each week, local religious leaders make selections for reading aloud and discussion. Over the years, this group has studied across a broad range of faith traditions and spiritual practices. Also on Wednesdays in the evening, a devoted group of Bridge players meet for cards and fellowship in our community room. For young children we have twice weekly story hours on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings which include stories, crafts and music. Kingston Library will also continue to host the monthly Super Saturdays programs for families which have included puppetry, science demonstrations, live animal shows, music, dance, magic and story telling. The library also plans a broad range of activities for kids to keep them engaged in reading over the summer as part of our Summer Reading Program. This year we will be continuing and expanding on our summer program for teens that was begun last year thanks in part to a generous grant from Ulster Savings Bank. In addition, we have occasional programs throughout the year for all ages that in the past have included gardening, readings by local authors, kayaking, financial planning, meditation, music, local history and more. There is also much to enjoy in rotating exhibits of artwork and information on the library’s walls and in display cases.

RM:  What do you feel is the greatest challenge in providing this community service?

MM: One of our greatest challenges is getting the word out to people that the library is probably so much more than they think it is. Often, people stop visiting the library when they leave school and don’t realize that we have something to offer everyone, at every stage in their lives. In addition to outstanding books and dozens of magazine and newspaper subscriptions, we have graphic novels and comics, popular music CDs, current feature films on DVD, audio books on tape and CD as well as downloadable books that can be downloaded to your iPod or MP3 players. The library provides dozens of public internet computers and free wifi access. We also provide a  broad range of online resources that can be used from any internet accessible computer in your home or office. These resources include homework support and early literacy resources for kids, language learning instruction for those wishing to learn languages from Arabic to Vietnamese and English as a second language instruction, job finding resources, test prep for civil service and academic tests like the SAT and GED. The library is also just a great place to meet your neighbors and see what’s going on in the community. Community groups are invited to make use of our meeting spaces and we have had groups ranging from local service agencies and neighborhood groups to 4H clubs and crafters meet here.

RM: The tour of the facility is a great idea! What do you hope participants will walk away with and will you continue to give tours of the Library?

MM: I hope that as many people as possible come to tour our building. The idea is to give participants a complete picture of the library from children’s and adult services to administrative activities and the physical plant. Even those of us who use the library aren’t always aware of everything that goes into providing this invaluable community resource. Kingston residents have a long history of supporting their library. I’d like to give people an opportunity to see the whole library from a new perspective so they can feel proud of this remarkable resource that their tax dollars support. We will continue to do tours of the facility as long as people are interested in learning more about it.

RM: Can you name one really special aspect of Kingston’s library that perhaps most people wouldn’t know?

MM: One of the most special aspects of Kingston Library is that it’s function is to serve the residents of Kingston and it’s resources are available to everyone–no exceptions. We want the library to be a meaningful part of of our community and we want everyone to know that no matter what point you’re at in life, the library has something to offer you. Whether you’re looking for education, information or recreation, you can find it at the library. Come sign up for a library card and discover what special things the library has to offer you.

RM: What’s the best way for a person to be in touch if they wish to volunteer?

MM: The best way for someone to be in touch if they want to volunteer at the library is to come in and use the resources, see what’s happening, chat with the staff and see where they would like to participate. Join the Friends of Kingston Library and become part of a great group of smart, friendly, interesting people dedicated to serving their community by supporting their library. FOKL will be having their annual meeting starting at 7:00 on Tuesday March 9th at the library. Come at 6:00 for refreshments and a tour. We are also looking for dedicated people interested in serving on the Kingston Library Board of Trustees. Library trustees are a bridge between the library and the community and serving in this capacity can make a significant contribution to the community. Join us at a board meeting on the third Thursday of the month at 7:00 at the library. There are opportunities from high tech to low tech, with ages from children to seniors, working directly with people to behind the scenes support work. Come in and see what’s happening!

A Baker Lives in Kingston

Several months ago, I noticed something quite wonderful had changed inside of the baked goods case at the Mother Earth Storehouse Kingston location. I found myself beelining to the back each week where I’d find things like chocolate souffle cupcakes with white chocolate mint icing or vanilla malt cupcakes with pineapple cream cheese icing and pineapple flowers. Who in the world was responsible for these irresistible and creative desserts?

Now we know. took some time out to get the scoop on the talented local baker Terese Fantasia. Mother of two and wife of architect Scott Dutton, Terese and family reside in the city of Kingston.

Mother Earth's baked goods case made by Terese Fantasia

Rebecca Martin: How long have you lived in the city of Kingston?

Therese Fantasia: I have lived in Kingston for ten years. Before that I was living in Hoboken and working in Manhattan.

RM: What are your earliest memories of making meals, and when did you realize that you were a baker?

TF: I remember as a child, helping my dad make pancakes for the family, standing on a chair in front of the stove. I also remember helping him roll and hang up homemade pasta to dry all over our kitchen. We would drape the hand-cut spaghetti all over the backs of chairs, and over kitchen twine that was strung like a spider web all over the place! I also remember him teaching me to make his special meatball recipe, flecked with orange zest and hidden within each meatball would be one pine nut and one raisin. Of course when I was shaping the meatballs I would always sneak in more raisins! Also, my Mom is 2nd generation Hungarian and my Dad was 2nd generation French and Italian, so in our family we (there are five siblings) were exposed to a lot of eclectic and unconventional foods. I have always had a broad palate and a great interest in food. I guess the baking came into play later on. At work and family functions I was always the one making the desserts, and I developed a very strong passion for it. When I see a recipe I like, I won’t rest until I’ve tried it. Baking is more of a science and is less forgiving than cooking, and I’m very stubborn…when I see a challenge I won’t stop unless I’ve conquered it. I’m still working at it!

RM: How did the position at Mother Earth come about? Why was it a good fit for you?

TF: I guess I was in the right place at the right time to get this dream job at Mother Earth’s! They are so accommodating; they let me make my own schedule around caring for my two young daughters. I suppose they were looking for someone who had a passion for baking, and I definitely fit that bill! I love to be creative with my baking, and they have given me full reign over my little corner of their kitchen!

RM: What are your goals for their bakery?

TF: Well, obviously Mother Earth’s Storehouse is well-known for their quality and variety of natural packaged, prepared, and bulk food items. Ideally I would love for the store to become a destination for people who enjoy the baked goods that I provide. I try to come up with new ideas and flavor combinations that will raise eyebrows as well as pleasing taste buds. I guess I’d like the Mother Earth’s bakery to become a destination itself! I know that’s a tall order, but like I said, I’m stubborn!

RM:  I recently had one of your Green Tea cupcakes and have to tell you, that it was the most unique and delicious baked good I’ve ever had. What is your process in coming up with ideas like this and what other goodies do you have up your sleeve for the Spring?

TF: Thank you! I really like the flavor of green tea, and that COLOR!!! The wheat grass sprouting out of the top was an after-thought that I really liked once it was put together. I have so many places I go to for baking ideas, but most times I’ll see something in a cookbook or on the internet, and I’ll branch off and try to come up with something unique based on a simple recipe I’ve seen. Or, I’ll become obsessed with a particular ingredient and I’ll ruminate on it until I come up with a recipe to fit that ingredient. That’s what happened with the Green Tea idea. Also, it’s not hard coming up with ideas when you have the most wholesome, organic and beautiful ingredients at your fingertips!

RM: Do you offer private catering? If so, how can someone get in contact with you?

TF: Yes, I do baking for private events. My email address is

Closing The Senate House In Kingston?

The State proposes to close the Senate House in Kingston in a new round of closing or limiting hours of popular locations to help close the State’s multibillion-dollar budget gap. Seems to be in the hands of the legislature now. Click on this LINK for information on how to contact all of those who represent the City of Kingston. It wouldn’t hurt to contact Ward 2 Alderman Tom Hoffay (EMAIL: PHONE: 845/331-8317) who could provide more helpful information on the subject.

Kingston cannot afford to lose one of its historic attractions.

Kingston Natural Foods Opens Market In The Spring of 2010

Jennifer McKinley-Rakov, Founder of Kingston Natural Foods

Have you heard the news? Kingston Natural Foods, an organic food store and provider of local artisan products, is opening in the Rondout Spring 2010!   That means that Jennifer McKinley-Rakov will not only host one of the biggest organic and natural foods buying clubs (in the NATION! Here, you can purchase anything and everything natural and/or organic for your family affordably) but she will also be open to the public five days a week selling healthy food items galore!

It also appears that the once a month ‘farmers market’ she organizes may be expanding. It’s long overdue to have an outdoor market downtown. What a great complement to what’s already happening Uptown.

There aren’t any short cuts in creating a small business, and hard work most definitely pays off.  We think her model is most inspiring.

Read all about it:

Kingston Natural Foods

Join the Kingston Natural Foods Buying Club

Winter Wednesday’s Farmers Market

KNF in the Daily Freeman