Editorial: A better Broadway

Kingston Times Editor Dan Barton.

Kingston Times Editor Dan Barton.

Over the past few months, I’ve been haunted, for lack of a better word, by something I read in one of Hugh Reynolds’ columns. In his Aug. 6 piece, he wrote this, reporting on the Town of Ulster Conservative Party caucus:

“What I hear going door to door from [elderly] people is, ‘Who’s going to buy my house when it’s time to move?’” [Town Supervisor James]Quigley said. “Retail is important, but there are no good jobs for the young people. How can they buy these houses? We’re a community sustained by IBM pensions and Social Security checks.”

What haunts me and what should haunt all of us is the hugeness of what this implies. For your average family, the value of their home is their biggest asset. If they can’t get what they need out of it by the time it’s time for them to sell, they’re in danger of living and dying in poverty.

Advertisement

It’s from this direction I would like to approach, and argue in favor of, the Building a Better Broadway plan. When I first was made editor of this paper in 2009, I wrote, “Kingston needs to get cooler, nicer and safer” in order to succeed. Six years later, the city’s come a long way toward those goals. The BBB plan would bring it even closer to the ideal, and help Midtown enjoy the same kind of revival Downtown and Uptown enjoy.

I would be very happy to be proven wrong on this, but I really don’t foresee a large business adding thousands or even hundreds or even scores of jobs at one fell swoop coming to the greater Kingston metroplex and thus saving our local economy, deus ex machina style. To paraphrase Rick Pitino (a basketball coach who made a famous speech 15 years ago trying to get Celtics fans to accept that their team was in a rebuilding phase), IBM is not walking back through that door, and anybody who tells you they (or something like it) will is either bullshitting on purpose for whatever reason or bullshitting by accident because they honestly don’t know any better. Jobs will be and are being added, sure — in twos, threes, dozens at most, by small businesses and entrepreneurs, largely working in the service, arts and professional fields.

In his weekly column, Geddy the publisher has methodically laid out the case that the most important source of new money coming into Ulster is from “young creatives” from downstate. The county government agrees, and earlier this year made a good video pointing out to city people how nice it is to live in and telecommute from Ulster in hopes of adding their big-city incomes to our economic base.

I know the concept of special accommodation for people who ride bikes can be hard for some people to support or see the need for — the Hudson Valley has been a hotbed of automobile supremacy for decades. When I was growing up in Hyde Park, the default assumption was that any grownup walking or biking on a public highway wasn’t worth much, because if he was, he’d be driving a car like anybody else. To this day in this city, decisions are being made in Uptown (the War on Traffic Lights) which value the convenience of drivers over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. I think these decisions are short-sighted, both from a public safety and a real-estate value perspective.

I’ll take a minute to note that a lot of the cyclists we see on our streets today are hometown folk for whom a bicycle is the only option they can afford, and this plan will make their lives a little easier. I’ll take another minute to note that the money for the BBB plan is coming from the state, not the local budget; recapturing tax money flowing out of town is one of the hallmarks of effective local government and we should take what we can get.

While bike lanes are not the only part of the BBB, they’re important because the people who are going to buy houses here one day down the road are more likely than not going to see those bike lanes as a big positive, not a big negative. Cooler, nicer, safer. That’s not to say the concerns of Broadway businesspeople about the impact a more difficult parking scenario will have on their trade aren’t legitimate. But the fact that the number of parking spaces that’ll be lost has been pared to 13 (none of which, according to the plan’s authors, will actually be eliminated expressly to accommodate the bike lanes) and that the most sensitive part of Broadway, the bottleneck at City Hall and Kingston High School, will be dealt with at the end of the BBB’s implementation (concurrently with the end of the KHS renovation) gives officials a chance to adjust as needed. Perhaps a deal can be struck with the Rite-Aid people to (formally) allow public parking in their lot.

The BBB plan will be a selling point, serving to drive up, not depress, property values in Midtown and help make Kingston a place where people want to buy houses. Those housing buys will allow families who have so much invested in those houses to get what they need out of them. That’s enough to support the plan’s adoption by the Common Council.

There are 73 comments

  1. Bill B

    Very well said!

    I moved to the City of Kingston three years this month. One of the major factors was being able to have Uptown a mile in one direction and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail 1.5 miles in the other direction.

  2. gerald berke

    Thank you… We need this kind of thoughtful comment on the work being done in Kingston… Mr Wiedman et al are competent and engaged people and their work and input is greatly valued, and their thoroughness does inspire trust in a successful outcome.
    I must say, however, that the uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the Kingston Corridor does not help fix a very troublesome navigation problem in the city and hardly slows the Uptown/Midtown/Rondout mentality of the city… that part is very discouraging. Of course, if Mr Noble gets the Kingston Corridor Shuttle Bus going, that will go a long way toward easing traffic, supporting pedestrians and allows all the citizens to move freely along Kingston’s main street. on Facebook and at KIngstonCorridor.org

    1. Jan Bennett

      Very well said Mr. Berke. I agree with the idea of shuttle buses to go up and down the lower to upper corridor of Kingston and will be a great access to the Senior citizen’s of our fine City

      1. gberke

        Take a tip from our seniors: active and engaged and taking best advantage of our sidewalks and public transportation… but it is difficult for any and all to be engaged when it means getting in a ca, driving, parking and doing that multiple times over and over in the day…

  3. Kale Kaposhilin

    Thank you, Dan Barton. I fully agree that Kingston is getting cooler, nicer and safer and it’s attracting more good people all the time who want to pitch in and help. I think that one of the most important jobs that we have is what you are doing in communicating the ideals of this community so that others can see the positive contemporary ideals which they are looking for in a community. Bikes and bike lanes aren’t just affordable options for people – they also express iconically the idea that we care about people who ride bikes and we make room for them. We share the road with all people. We share our city with all people and all people are welcome – particularly those who want to share, engage and contribute to build a better Kingston. There are examples of this all over the city where people are building anew and pitching in and if we can elevate these stories it will attract the folks who will purchase homes and contribute positively to the community. Thanks for elevating the positive community stories in your work at the Kingston Times! You’ll find me sharing them on social media channels and tagging #movetokingstonnow when possible.

  4. Alex Panagiotopoulos

    I support this amended proposal, and I hope that eventually the bike lane becomes a reality.

    HOWEVER…

    This whole saga is a repeat of the Niagara Bottling fiasco. Government had an idea, spent lots of taxpayer-funded hours building it out, and then did little to educate people on why they should support it, leaving it to individuals to band together and either shout it down or fight for its adoption.

    That worked out great with Niagara Bottling, but now we’re getting a taste of our own medicine. I urge government to become more proactive at communicating, and go beyond saying “just trust us,” or “it’s all in the 100-page PDF.”

    The “anti” concerns of bottling plants and bike lanes have been articulated countless times in other communities. All you have to do is google “bike lane controversy” or “bottling plant protests.” With a little research, you could have a playbook for anticipating concerns and communicating better.

    For the sake of all the great people doing great work to bring great proposals and grant money to Kingston, please start doing a better job of talking about your ideas in 2016 and beyond. Otherwise, no progress will ever be made.

    1. Pete Baker

      Alex –

      I agree with you. The bike lane advocates are bad mouthing the Freeman for distorted facts in their reporting. In reality they shoulder at least part of the blame as they have been extremely poor salesmen. My concern is unobstructed routes to the hospital(s) from the West.

      Pete

  5. Pete Baker

    Dan –

    Could you please see if you can get a copy of a map of the proposed Broadway layout? I have ask the BBB people if the design is for a full 3 lanes from Albany Ave to Grand St. They have yet to reply. My concern is an unobstructed route from Albany Ave the St. Mary’s Campus for ambulances. Kingston layout is unusual in that Broadway is the only East to West through street. All cities that are referenced as “successful” have multiple parallel through streets.

  6. gberke

    All that being said, here’s the problem: what’s wrong with Broadway? Where is the agreement with that? Were the citizens crying out for bikes? If they were not perhaps because they were not informed of the benefits to the city finances with bike lanes, well, whose fault was that?
    Again, the BBB did not coordinate with Uptown or Downtown, it was not painted as part of a larger picture, which would have included signage and the Kingston Corridor, that would take pedestrians and bikes (and busses) from one part of town to the other with ease.
    And if it hasn’t been made clear (it ought to be) that Broadway is NOT being designed to flush large amounts of traffic through it… that that is going change… It will look a lot more like Wall Street or Fair Street. Traffic had best look to the bypasses in the city and it may be that the throttling of traffic by the Rail Road needs to be addressed, let alone the notion of fast moving oil trains running through built up neighborhood. BBB ought to have made it clear that it will seriously need Public Transportation along the entire corridor.
    Property values will not be lifted in size or time to bail out IBMers especially after this huge drop in property values ala Bush and the Friendly Banking System. Indeed, the economic model of using and housing as a Ponzi scheme may properly be coming to an end, or at least coming back to earth.
    There is much opportunity to “improve” Broadway as part of the Kingston Corridor where all the city’s businesses can participate instead of feeling that their business is being drawn away.
    There was nothing keeping the city from putting up a couple more bike racks were not so utterly plain and uninteresting. The Kings Motel property could have been modestly improved, a few community gardens, the local businesses encouraged to claim that as an attraction for Midtown, some cross walks at Franklin and some pedestrian crossing signs like you see all over Albany Avenue (!) This kind of “planning” is akin to starving the guests to improve the enjoyment of the meal… indeed, a known, broken stoplight that totally messes with traffic has been know and documented for over 2 years! Fixing that does NOT require a BBB plan and a $4 million grant.
    One has to wonder if hiding in there isn’t another run at a Business Improvement District to raise the costs of rents for businesses on the Corridor…
    Steve Noble has run on a very well defined and specific platform of communication with the citizens: good information, un to date information, and often. And a clear plan to ask loudly and clearly before stepping off with big projects like BBB and Energy2… I hope Mr Noble will be able to bring those projects to heel and improve the timeliness and quality of the information….
    Meantime, Broadway is very seriously coming up! All by itself? Probably not: probably the rising economy and the very very strong midtown boosterism and personal involvement of the mayor is being felt.

    1. Suckles Singleton

      Careful, or your sound logic will reveal to the, yet to be displaced, “untidy masses” the true nature and purpose of the proposal by illuminating how it was carefully steered around principal stakeholders and draped in grandiosity in an attempt to avoid revealing its negative impact on current business owners, very few of which were contacted as part of its rather abbreviated, and entirely distorted “feasibility study”.

      Make no mistake that the priorities and objectives of the “BBB” are not derived from a participative and democratic consensus. Apparently, neither the officials at the High School, nor the Fire and Police Departments were contacted during the original study, and both have subsequently weighed-in with substantial disapproval, if I am not mistaken.

      The “coin of the realm” in Kingston’s habitual failure is “good intentions”, rather than fungible results on the part of elected officials. Those responsible knew decisively that they could hide their intentions behind that fact combined with a thin layer of “objectivity” formulated by using, ostensibly, “independent” consulting firms to distance themselves from any potential backlash.

      If it were not for the aggressive activities of a small number of, apparently, disaffected business, the entire matter may have passed quietly on a voice vote without incident. It remains to be seen which Council members align themselves with the cabal that initiated this “scheme”.

      You are correct that there are many modest changes that could be employed, or could have been employed already, to accomplish the stated goals – those that aren’t ridiculous on their face. For others you’ll need the investigative power of the press and/or a concerted effort to track both the monies involved and the political fortunes of individuals behind the proposal some time into the future. I imagine one or two substantial lawsuits associated with the city having not “properly cleared” the resultant path will be enough to negate any perceived value in the associated “outside grant”.

      Certainly one glaring omission is in estimating downstream costs of maintaining the applied changes, but since those will likely be absorbed and hidden into an enlarged municipal budget, they’ll be perceived as incremental perks to those who benefit already from the delivery of city services. There again, a city run by the city for the city.

      Seriously, let’s be realistic. How would one even measure the specific positive effect of a bicycle path in terms of economic improvement against the negative consequences to individual business? By what mechanism will these calculations be made moving forward? For the sponsors to make such a claim is ridiculous.

      At the very best the BBB Plan is an accommodation to one group of citizens to the detriment of another group of citizens – a substantial portion of the existing, Broadway-based, business community. They are effectively being told something that’s rather counter-intuitive – that by reducing the amount of automobile traffic that passes by, their businesses will boom. I can’t wait to see all those package-laden bicycles struggling to carry heaps of purchased merchandise up and down the streets.

      Those who will primarily benefit, in the short term, anyway, will be those who sell their currently vacant buildings after the taxpayer-applied capital improvements have been completed.

      Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s not really about bicyclists at all. I’ll leave it to the curious to determine for certain…

  7. Susan

    The plan still needs to address the concerns of several business along the corridor, ones which need street access for deliveries and parking in front of their establishments without having to deal with bike lanes. As far as downstate creatives, we are already here and have been for a decade. We walk and bike when we can, but also drive as well. Broadway provides the most direct route uptown from many of us who work at home and travel for work in the downtown area. A shuttle bus is a great suggestion, but it will not be practical for everyone. Just because people telecommute does not mean that they are not busy. Biking and taking the bus are not always an option when you have busy schedule.

  8. Frank Flynn

    It seems to me that for 5.4 million dollars we could build an enclosed, elevated bikeway / walkway along Broadway and please everyone. Throw a few thousand dollars to restripe Broadway to create left turn lanes and the job is done.

    It is a fallacy to say that the middle lane is underutilized, anyone driving down Broadway avoids the left lane so they do not get caught behind a left turning mail truck or other vehicle.

    This study suggests widening Broadway by a foot, why not do that anyway? Every little bit will help, especially in the winter months.

    Bump outs only create traffic chaos, look at Wall Street mid day for evidence. One double parked vehicle, one car unloading passengers or a shopper picking up their goods snarls traffic.

    I am happy to see some money for recalibrating the traffic lights, I believe T.R. Gallo wanted funding for that as well.

    Bikes, pedestrians, cars and trucks can co exist in an urban setting, why can’t we come up with a creative plan where everyone wins?

    1. Pete Baker

      “Bikes, pedestrians, cars and trucks can co exist in an urban setting, why can’t we come up with a creative plan where everyone wins?”

      ….AND RAILS IN A RURAL STTING!

      The folks pushing for the BB bike paths are some of the same pushing to rip up the historic Ulster and Delaware rails going west.

      Build a Better Broadway by putting the bike paths on adjacent streets or on the Greenway.

      1. gberke

        given that you are pro RR, that does not seem like an unreasonable deduction…. but that does assume that a RR makes good economic sense or that it is in current use…but I think the analogy is inaccurate, incomplete: the RR in not running and carrying people and goods. Moreover, there IS no RR: there are old tracks and rail beds and more that need huge investment… if there is some justification for the trails, the does not mean there is justification for the RR.
        That being said, you might ask for justification for the bike lanes in KIngston… but there the analogy breaks down again: the money for BBB is from a grant… and that’s a whole ‘nother process…that process does an end around the finances by getting the funding from outside sources in a special kind of competition…
        I don’t get a lot of agreement on this next point, but all big projects have some kind of risk involved in them, whether it is the flooding of some lands for hydro or the destruction of urban renewal: bigger forces are involved, different players run the show. Some projects are very very good, some are not, some just are. But the bigness of it or its appearence of being “free” is surely seductive, but not a full justification.

      2. Steven L. Fornal

        Mr. Baker, (admittedly I’m assuming you are pro-CMRR), why do you pro-CMRR folk continue to use deceit to argue the case for keeping the rails (read: rescuing CMRR from its self-inflicted demise)?

        The NYC DEP will NOT (REPEAT: WILL NOT) allow a train to pass through the reservoir area. There will be NO TRAIN through that area. The DEP has the unassailable authority to disallow that from happening. This is the reality.

        Stop saying how the county wants to tear up the rails. Only rails where CMRR isn’t currently running trains are subject to being taken out. There will still be the very same rails where CMRR contends it’s bringing tens of thousands of paying visitors to Kingston (although CMRR has not released competent financial date as per lease agreement as required to prove this fact).

        If CMRR advocates want to continue using said argument, state clearly to what documentation they are referring.

        Also, CMRR supporters should start addressing the fact that it was CMRR that brought suit against the county because the county, after 24 years of complete disregard towards the requirements of the legal lease it signed, finally wanted the lease requirements fulfilled. The CMRR had an opportunity to abide by the legal binding agreement it signed but chose to sue the county and thereby force UC taxpayers to pay for it.

        As far as I’ve been able to find out, CMRR has not provided the necessary financial data required; has improved less than 20 percent of the track which was a stipulation of the lease.

        Also, the cost of running trains all the way from Kingston to Mt Tremper has NEVER been honestly portrayed by CMRR supporters. There is no mention of the cost of BRIDGES (not a single bridge) to be repaired, nor the washouts that would have to be fixed. One bridge alone would top $5 million dollars as the steel would all have to be replaced due to twisting of the old bridge steel which creates a potential for metal fatigue which means it cannot be reused.

        The costs would be born by UC Taxpayers while the CMRR continued to pocket profits.

        The CMRR had 24 years to fulfill their obligations under the lease and failed miserably.

  9. Emily

    Thank you Dan, for your thoughts. I feel like you’re talking about me. I’m a graphic designer working at Seven21 Broadway and we moved to Kingston because we wanted to live in a place where we could walk and bike. I agree that it’s going to be smaller businesses, entrepreneurs, and tourism that will keep our city vibrant in the years to come. This project will directly support those local businesses, entice active tourism and attract new residents who want the same lifestyle that I do.

  10. Paul

    I just spent a week in Germany (Munich/Franfurt). Two things I could not help notice.

    First, there were bikes everywhere, ridden by business people and given as much right of way at motor vehicles.

    Second, there were cranes. Lots of cranes.

    My conclusion…businesses can survive/thrive in cities where motorized and non-motorized vehicles co-exist. Let’s work together to make it happen!

    1. Susan

      Glad you brought this up. Not unlike Greenpoint, Brooklyn before the Wall Streeters arrived. Most bicyclists were drug dealers doing business. Then came the Wall Street types and finally the trust fund babies who hung out in cafes pretending to be artists and writers with their lattes. This is about GENTRIFICATION and LIFESTYLE!

    2. citizen K

      I”’m sure the majority of bicyclists we see daily and regularly in Kingston – i.e., felons – will enjoy this immensely.”
      I’ll skip being sarcastic… that’s just a real creepy and mean thing to say about people.
      I don’t know if you are seduced by the chance that you might say something funny and so you sacrifice civility and good taste and play a bigot card,

  11. Suckles Singleton

    Dear Editor:

    Haunted? You should be..

    In Kingston, it’s difficult to truly measure which of the following is the most cynical and/or problematic:

    1) A local de-facto one-party political system that’s replete with quid-quo-pro “side-deals” and multi-generational nepotism propped-up by an anti-development state legislature and an ideologically motivated, and politically ambitious governor, determined to demonstrate his bona-fides to to the radical environmentalists by suppressing anything that’s not “recreationally-aligned” north of Westchester County.

    2) A clueless local electorate that is unable to differentiate between government sponsored and facilitated deficit spending (disguised as “magical” grants from elsewhere) versus ACTUAL private capital investment in the region with its intended goal of commercial profitably that would produce products and services with the corresponding desirable side-effects of expanding the area’s tax base and providing employment opportunities for area residents

    3) A political class that cultivates a culture of perpetual dependency on “outside money” even to maintain basic services while beating the electorate into endless submission by carefully orchestrated, party-sponsored media events and advertising designed to continuously lower citizen expectations while promoting the loss of jobs and services, somehow as “progress” and furthering facilitating the precipitous decline of the region and its economic independence, while they continue to pursue their next favored place in the political “machine”.

    4) A spineless local press that seldom, if ever, truly examines the ethically challenged soft-underbelly of how city, country, and state regional politics is actually conducted, retreating instead to the “safe” ideological preferences of their editors, advertisers, and subscribers, and fed completely by “official propaganda”, thereby even further reinforcing the notion that the only viable ideas are those already being put forth by the same, tired, and ineffective leadership, a substantial portion of whom are likely benefiting financially or politically from the aforementioned “secret side-deals”.

    And now, in your “courageous and compassionate” wisdom, have gone and endorsed the ridiculous, money-wasting, half-baked “Build a Better Broadway” plan that thoroughly compromises the existing local businesses in favor of an unsubstantiated group of “projected” (imaginary) consumers – on the thin premise that it’ll improve the resale value of the existing homeowners as they, too, join the mass exodus to places in the country where “economic development” is not synonymous with simply borrowing money from future generations to fund another fantasy-driven, utopian future – like this one, that’s,apparently, “safer for bicycles”. Oy veh!

    Wow, that’s quite the enlightened endorsement. I guess we can agree with your assertion, however, in that once the current residents and remaining businesses have evacuated the streets of Kingston, those few, crafty “Central Planners” who remain will be less encumbered by the offensive coincidental commercial activity, as they trade their “eco-green ceramic art works” for snow shovels to clear their own precious bicycle paths in the dead of winter.

    Will the last one out of Kingston (on your way up the equally fanciful “trail-to-nowhere”) please turn-off the lights?

    Suckles Singleton

    1. Steven L. Fornal

      Where to begin? Suckles has it precisely WRONG as to anti-development state legislature. The ten year no tax push for new business ventures is a huge giveaway to produce just the kind of growth w/jobs that Suckles says s/he wants. Even though 85 percent of all new businesses fail within the first three years, giving taxpayer money (via PILOTs) as incentive doesn’t strike me as being anti-business development. Quite the contrary. It would seem that private, for-profit businesses spend their own capital to reap the capitalist reward.

      It would seem that perhaps Suckles is miffed over the Governor’s turning down Fracking. Lovely industry. All sorts of cover-ups and Halliburton loophole horror stories with real-world contamination because of that foul industry.

      Or, is it that Suckles bemoans the turning down of toxic chemical storage of Fracking waste water in Seneca NY?

      As far as the “local” media is concerned, the problems of getting the truth out is endemic to the medium. Advertisers fund the venture so articles critical of anything remotely disadvantageous to them isn’t likely to see the light of day. Newspapers are also the realm of the owner/publisher. What slant they wish to impart is what comes out. Where a definite problem comes in, is when said papers refuse to allow OPINIONS such as these letters/comments that are directly opposed to the views/stances of the publisher. That’s too much! But, my guess is that Suckles Singleton believes, say, the New York Times is a left-wing mouthpiece even though it’s about as centrist (some would say stooge to the US State Dept/CIA/Defense Dept) as a paper can get without losing all credibility.

      As far as Suckles’ rant re “imaginary consumers” of the future, uh, it’s called PLANNING. That’s what municipalities are required to do in order grow in an organized fashion.

      Now, Suckles, I’d be really interested in hearing what YOUR solutions are for all the beefs you wrote about. What would YOU do to bring in “ACTUAL private capital investment in the region with its intended goal of commercial profitably that would produce products and services with the corresponding desirable side-effects of expanding the area’s tax base and providing employment opportunities for area residents.”

      How would YOU protect the environment from the effects of Fracking? Maybe YOU should first define what you precisely mean by “radical environmentalists.”

      Also, perhaps YOU could let us in on the “secret side deals” that the local media won’t report on.

      What would YOU do to improve the traffic flow in Kingston? How would YOU accommodate bicyclists (you know, those like Emily above) moving to an urban area to work and transport herself around on bike in a most environmentally friendly way?

      Let’s use this forum to brain storm rather than complain without anything better to offer.

      1. Suckles Singleton

        Precisely WRONG, eh? – LOL.

        My comments are narrowly directed to the editor with respect to the endorsement, specifically, the last paragraph which states “The BBB plan will be a selling point, serving to drive up, not depress, property values in Midtown ….. allow [ing] families who have so much invested in those houses to get what they need out of them. That’s enough to support the plan’s adoption by the Common Council.”

        If using money borrowed from future generations to collaterally, and indirectly enhance private property values so that current residents can make a hasty exit, in and of itself constitutes a sufficient basis to endorse the “Better Broadway” plan, then why not simply cut them a check with the provision that they leave town to make room for the predicted surge of down-state “hipsters” imagined by its authors?

        I’ll leave it to the readers to decide whether such vague assertions constitute “planning” or are “Better for Broadway”, but they seem a far cry from anything resembling a plan that would reinvigorate the local business sector, expand the tax base, or create jobs.

        This might come as some surprise to those who directly or indirectly, habitually feed at the public trough, financially and/or politically, but to actual business people, it’s merely self evident. Government spending borrowed money doesn’t create sustainable economic activity unless the policies and regional regulatory framework are consistent with corporate profitability.

        At best the “Better Broadway” plan is the kind “aspirational window-dressing” that’s taking place throughout the state, ultimately, at taxpayer expense under the guise that such “civic amenities” drive business decision-making. Unfortunately, they do not – at least in comparison to more critical factors such as access to markets, low taxes, skilled labor, and low energy costs.

        The broader points of my retort simply point out the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of the obstacles to the sort of systemic reforms that would be necessary to change the debate toward a more salient and meaningful outcome. Since the political class benefits from the dependencies and grants, and the token spending constitutes a transfer of wealth from future taxpayers to the selected few, no such reform is likely.

        The core problem lies in that real business development displaces those who are already in power by strong economic forces, and that such activity constitutes a real threat to government’s custodial relationship to the public treasury. That’s why the current state of economic activity in NY state is substantially based on inter-agency transfers of borrowed monies, rather than cogent arrangements with private businesses. County executives tout their support for the “most vulnerable” with grants and “allocations” from within the bureaucracy, but can’t seldom cite single instances of cutting through their own “red tape” to accommodate a major corporation. It’s little surprise that it hasn’t happened – these individuals are creatures of the government – not of private industry.

        That being said, when the history of Kingston’s decline is finally written, I can assure you, it will not be for a lack of bicycle paths or hiking trails that elected officials failed their residents. It’ll be because they incorrectly saw themselves at the center of the process, and government as the author, rather than embracing the notion that sustainable economic activity requires elected officials to embrace the role of the private sector – not compete with it for jurisdiction over the masses.

  12. nopolitics

    There is only one part taken out of this equation, which is the fact that local politics runs everything and local politics has never been much better than mean-spirited and there is no evidence in the last 60 years for any other conclusion. This has turned into class warfare to the death, and while in that respect Kingston is no different from any other place in this tragic nation, there is surely a tougher road ahead. The so called optimists believe a kinder, gentler Kingston is coming with the election of a new Mayor. Those on the side of the group that runs things has always been a favored group in Kingston, while those not in that group remains disempowered.
    As a native Kingstonian: I’ll believe in some significant kinder, gentler Kingston it when I see it–and if I see it in my lifetime I will be very much surprised. Oh go ahead, surprise me, Kingston(if you dare).

  13. Suckles Singleton

    [NOTE: Corrects several gramatical errors in my previous comment.]

    Dear Editor:

    Haunted? You should be..

    In Kingston, it’s difficult to truly measure which of the following is the most cynical and/or problematic:

    1) A local de-facto one-party political system that’s replete with quid-quo-pro “side-deals” and multi-generational nepotism propped-up by an anti-development state legislature and an ideologically motivated, and politically ambitious governor, determined to demonstrate his bona-fides to the radical environmentalists by suppressing anything that’s not “recreationally-aligned” north of Westchester County.

    2) A clueless local electorate that is unable to differentiate between government sponsored and facilitated deficit spending (disguised as “magical” grants from elsewhere) versus ACTUAL private capital investment in the region with its intended goal of commercial profitability that would produce products and services and the corresponding desirable side-effects of expanding the area’s tax base and providing employment opportunities for area residents

    3) A political class that cultivates a culture of perpetual dependency on “outside money” even to maintain basic services while beating the electorate into endless submission by carefully orchestrated, party-sponsored media events and advertising designed to continuously lower citizen expectations while promoting the loss of jobs and services, somehow as “progress” and furthering the precipitous decline of the region and its economic independence, while they continue to pursue their next favored place in the political “machine”.

    4) A spineless local press that seldom, if ever, truly examines the ethically challenged soft-underbelly of how city, country, and state regional politics is actually conducted, retreating instead to the “safe” ideological preferences of their editors, advertisers, and subscribers, and fed completely by “official propaganda”, thereby even further reinforcing the notion that the only viable ideas are those already being put forth by the same, tired, and ineffective leadership, a substantial portion of whom are likely benefiting financially or politically from the aforementioned “secret side-deals”.

    And now, in your “courageous and compassionate” wisdom, you have endorsed the ridiculous, money-wasting, half-baked “Build a Better Broadway” plan that thoroughly compromises the existing local businesses in favor of an unsubstantiated group of “projected” (imaginary) consumers – on the thinly drawn premise that it’ll improve the resale value of the existing homeowners as they, too, join the mass exodus to places in the country where “economic development” is not synonymous with borrowing money from future generations to fund another fantasy-driven, utopian future – like this one, that’s,apparently, “safer for bicycles”. Oy veh!

    Wow, that’s quite the enlightened endorsement. I guess we can agree with your assertion, however, in that once the current residents and remaining businesses have evacuated the streets of Kingston, those few, crafty “Central Planners” who remain will be less encumbered by the offensive coincidental commercial activity, as they trade their “eco-green ceramic art works” for snow shovels to clear their precious bicycle paths in the dead of winter.

    Will the last one out of Kingston (on your way up the equally fanciful “trail-to-nowhere”) please turn-off the lights?

    Suckles Singleton
    Kingston, NY

    1. admin

      Try to look at it this way – as an IDA works to get a site “shovel-ready” to appeal to private industrial investors, the city is working to get Broadway “cyclist-ready” to appeal to smaller-scale private investors. – Dan the editor

      1. Suckles Singleton

        Well, Dan, that certainly wasn’t the specific argument that you made in your editorial endorsement. Instead, you promoted what effectively would constitute a “golden parachute” for a subset of current residents, in the hopes that their replacements would “invigorate” the local economy sometime in the future.

        Your’s is effectively an inverse “regime change” argument, replacing one subset of residents, with a “cooler” group, who is drawn-in by the presence of “bicycle paths”. This is merely a thinly veiled version of the same “build-it-and-they-will-come” mindset that has doomed the region’s post-IBM era economic situation for several decades now, and counting.

        Unfortunately, your position displaces the primary responsibility for creating business-friendly, pro-growth policies, NOW, away from the current leadership, and projects it, instead, on the political might and corresponding influence of the new residents, LATER – assuming your assertion holds. That amounts to blaming the current residents for not investing sufficiently in the local economy to sustain and grow opportunity – so much so that they now need to be replaced.

        I’d suggest that if you had put forth the argument in a more direct fashion, its appeal to current residents might be a great deal more measured, although I do not doubt for a moment that yours is a view held by many others – mostly those who consider themselves as already belonging to the “cool” group. Ahem.

        Under the rubric that “no amount of hard work will rehabilitate the wrong objective”, I’d suggest that INSTEAD, residents hold the current/new leadership accountable for the current set of policies that have proven over time to be substantial disincentives to outside investment, by making THAT the primary measure of their effectiveness, instead of these superfluous and, arguably, divisive “projects” that, although, are appealing to the philosophical sensibilities of a small subset of residents, do little to change the fundamental viabilities on which sound business decisions are actually made.

        In addition, such “cosmetics” crowd-out the truly meaningful agenda – so much so that our leaders spend most of their time fighting over turf rather than travelling outside the immediate area and speaking to potential outside investors in the private sector, further perpetuating the, unfortunate, systemic perception that government’s primary concern is taking care of itself, and enlarging its own footprint – which, of course, is a major disincentive to business, in and of itself.

        Such is the state of affairs in Kingston, already, whereas a minor change of signage can take the “center stage” in civic meetings and on the editorial pages of the local paper, but the policies intrinsic to the city in the form of regulation, taxes, and zoning are seldom, if ever, mentioned or discussed (in-depth) unless, of course, someone is caught red-handed pilfering from the public treasury. What we should be debating – at lease SOME of the time is what POLICIES should be put in-place, eliminate or modify to become competitive – first in the immediate area and then with an eye toward progressively larger employers, AFTER having spoken to a large number of them.

        Judging from the promotional material produced by the incumbent Country Executive, even he has “lost the forest for the trees” in that his platform was substantially focused on “protecting the most vulnerable” through governmental means rather than a scorecard of how many companies he had delivered to the county as “new participants” or how many of millions of dollars he had increased the tax base for the county…Although I can certainly appreciate his claim of having made government “more efficient”, I cringe at the notion that we’ve simply re-elected a more efficient manager for our accelerating decline.

        It is up to the residents, the electorate, and the editorialists, such as yourself, Dan, to make this emphasis on the part of elected officials “unacceptable” behavior. Otherwise, the cycle of economic dependency and decline will continue in an ever-increasing downward spiral – regardless of which party, or in the case of Kingston, “caste”, controls the immediate reins of government.

        If Kingston IS going to eventually turnaround its, now, prolonged decline, it’ll start by holding its elected officials for promoting something other than that which will merely sustains their incumbencies an additional election cycle. Whether that occurs now, or after an even larger number of residents are replaced by death, economics, or an infusion of a “cooler” people, remains to be seen.

        Suckles Singleton
        Kingston, NY

        1. Suckles Singleton

          Clearly, outside investment inherently requires negotiations with outside parties, which in my view, is a considerably more productive activity than endorsing what effectively amounts to deficit spending predicated on what appears to be largely emotional speculation.

          For Kingston, I believe that the primary emphasis should be toward engaging private industry (small, large, and in-between) from outside the area to determine what constitutes their requirements for establishing an initial footprint here, or relocating from somewhere else – rather than simply securing public monies for “feel good” amenities, as has been the unfortunate local convention in recent times.

          Such discussions will eventually lead to any number of substantive proposals, each of which can then be codified and put in front of the voters or their representatives in a number of ways currently prescribed by law. After the voters have weighed-in, perhaps pursuing those grants to meet the preliminary conditions of the contractual arrangements can be pursued constructively – now with the voters’ endorsement.

          Such a process is considerably more “democratic” than the current approach which simply indulges utopianism (Wouldn’t it be nice if….?) with little or no measurable return on investment, and even less accountability on the part of elected officials whose immediate political interests lie in satisfying voters’ lifestyle whims or philosophical leanings rather than making the kind of difficult choices that can have a lasting positive effect on the regional economy.

          Real democracy is not simply the ability to “call the shots” about meaningless things, or having elected officials pander to the special interests of the tiny subset of voters that routinely put them in office. It’s about holding elected officials accountable for putting matters of substance in front of the voters, after they have worked alone or in unison to synthesize a set of possible, workable solutions. It’s about ensuring that franchise of democracy actually has some teeth.

          It’s vital that Kingston abandons the practice of putting the cart before the horse. The issue here is in directing our elected officials to engage in a process that, although unfamiliar, constitutes our only chance for real success. If, instead, the public debate is buried in trivialities, then the slide into the abyss will continue unabated.

          It’s important to realize that just because something is difficult does not mean it is unnecessary.

    1. Suckles Singleton

      No, not at all.

      It was a “term of endearment” given to me by my mother, Steven, when I was still very, very young – due to my pronounced lisp. Tragically, she was killed in a head-on automobile accident a month before my third birthday. My grieving father contiued to call me that, perhaps, as a homage to prematurely losing his beautiful young wife – So I became accustomed to it and it’s held me in fairly good stead since.

      Please feel free to address me as “Sue”, if you like.

  14. Pete

    I am an eight year Kingston homeowner and businessman transplanted from NYC. While well intentioned, the Kingston master plan and BBB is short sighted. Bike lanes are primarily the current novelty of the young and the outdoorsman. They serve no base on to which a viable economic future is built.

    Kingston needs jobs, period. Government does not best serve the population of Kingston by the creation of bike lanes, affordable housing, or sidewalks. These amenities come later after an affluent population seeks to invest in their communities. Kingston is far from affluent.

    Rather, the goverment of Kingston should seek to rediscover, and capitalize on all the resources of the surrounding area. This needs to be marketed to large scale investors. Large scale investors need to know why it best serves their bottom line to invest in Kingston. Tax incentives help but are not the answer.

    Unfortunately as a collective whole, Kingston leaders, and population lack the foresight or talent to make the tough decisions into moving Kingston out of the status quo.

    Until the day when government and the population of Kingston take ownership of their future, Kingston will continue to be a third rate town with little future for propesperous growth.

    1. Suckles Singleton

      Bravo, PETE.

      In counting you among one of Dan’s afformentioned “cooler” replacement citizens, it’s clear to see that you possess the clarity of thought as well as the gift of brevity, in making, not just one, but ALL of my points in significantly fewer column inches.

      I’m not sure that it’s a lack of foresight or talent, or whether it’s the profound delusion that economic activity can occur without SOME form of exploitation of resources, natural or otherwise. The current residents, en masse, seemingly cannot fathom an economy devoid of one form of subsidy or another.

      Kingston needs to “Remodel to Suit” accordingly, not pander to the indigenous pedestrian interests who want government to enhance or affirm their personal lifestyle choices.

      Leadership must first and foremost, break this never-ending cycle of dependency by vigourously engaging with MULTIPLE large-scale private sector companies from outside the immediate area, and move toward sustainability by VIGOROUSLY replacing government grants with private revenue.

      It MUST ensure that this process is a continuous one, so as to avoid the vulnerabilities associated with having a “one-company” town. by habitually measuring and monitoring its competitive stature on an on-going basis to avoid the calamities of the past, and by keeping municipal spending in-check accordingly.

      Perhaps it’ll take a decade or more, to make some headway, and the de-emphasis of government-centric solutions will consitute a tremendous culture shock for elected officials and citizens alike, however, it is, as you have so elegantly stated, the ONLY path that leads away from continued decline.

      I concur with the view that anything less, unfortunately, is simply “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”, whether it’s “bicycle accessible” or not.

  15. Steven L. Fornal

    Oh, dear…Suckles’ tragic story seems a bit over the top. If, indeed true, my sympathies. But, it has all the markings of melodrama; as if this has become a platform for give and take vis-a-vis Suckles the writer getting feedback and liking it and then indulging her passion for drama. Again, if I’m wrong on that, I apologize.

    While I’ll admit Suckles can write well, what was/is charged is that Kingston isn’t doing anything to promote sustainable businesses that will employ people and lessen the tax load (via “private revenue”). However, Suckles has not answered any of my queries as to what “Sue” would do to get those businesses to come to Kingston.

    That is the usual pattern: Sharply criticize yet when asked what should be done, we get the cliched responses of how we need blah-blah-blah…We KNOW what is needed in the general sense. But, what specifically should be done to get such large successful businesses to relocate in Kingston?

    That is, after all, the crux of the problem. In an economy that is primarily based upon credit to purchase fetish consumerist “stuff”, every one is attempting to produce the “next big thing” which is largely a waste of time as no one knows what will be the next big thing. So what happens is expensive advertising gobbles up dollars in order to hopefully sell the masses on whichever widget or must-have item. Investment money is borrowed to pay for production costs and distribution, and then the investors wait to see if they’ll make a profit. Today, most of that production has been off-shored.

    So, AGAIN, how do you get “sustainable businesses” (by the way you ought to define sustainable in this context) that will put the people to work and ease the tax burden from homeowners?

    Inevitably IF one actually attempts to answer this question, they’ll say that governmental regulations need to be streamlined (another way of saying codes need to be made more lax) to provide less cost to the producer/developer/financier.

    We did precisely this during the 1950s and 1960s which led to horrendous abuse of the environment ergo the pushback by normal people not afraid to fight for their right to a healthy environment. Superfund was developed to take care of just the major sites of pollution. Today, Superfund is on the verge of toothlessness as there are no forthcoming monies to fund it and polluted sites are everywhere.

    Look what happened to the economy when the Finance industry abused the lessening of regulations (revoking the Glass-Steagall Act).

    Such calls for lessening codes, regulations, lowering the tax rate, PILOT programs, etc have been in the offing producing the greatest increase in wealth over the past 20 years accruing to the top one-tenth percent (you know, the Ayn Randian “Producers”) in the amount of trillions of dollars yet the jobs are nowhere to be found. These fabled producers seem happy to simply allow their vast sums of assets to accrue more and more wealth.

    So, please, Sue/Suckles/whatever, let us know what you’re really talking about. Give us some examples of the “sustainable businesses” you’re talking about. Give us some idea of what the government could do to bring said businesses in to town.

    In other words, specifics. Because to say you’re only responding to the editor’s POV isn’t at all what you wrote about. You leveled significant charges without any details. This could turn productive with such input.

    Complaining without any idea as to how it could be better is much less interesting of a conversation.

    1. Suckles Singleton

      [an abbreviated replacement for the moderated comment]

      In my extensive discussions with other local citizens over the last several years, no one has yet suggested that my first four “bullet points” are somehow invalid, or untrue, or didn’t represent significant impediments to the exercise of good governance. I would go even further to tell you that such conditions are not unique to Kingston, and are, in fact, valid in many small cities and towns in and outside of New York State.

      As for you additional assertion that my comments lack specificity because I haven’t identified to your satisfaction a specific prescription, for Kingston’s “ills” presumes somehow that I have not made my recommendations elsewhere, or that the base of my argument is something other than the rather self-evident one that the “Building a Better Broadway” Plan is a largely irrelevant exercise with respect to improving Kingston’s economic prospects, hence my agreement that Dan should, indeed, be “haunted”.

      Ironically, despite the shortcomings of this milieu, in conveying the nuance of one’s intellectual argument, I can conclude decisively that you substantively agree with my position since you, yourself have provided no countervailing argument against my primary assertion, regarding the irrelevance of the “Building a Better Broadway” plan other than as a kind of bromide for a public habitually accustomed to ineffective leadership.

      You, seemingly, have affirmed the proposition that 1) there is a dire need for economic development constituted from private outside investment and 2) that need has not been met, nor will it be as a consequence of the aforementioned plan.

      My secondary point is that the public should act, to the extent possible, to redirect the leadership’s activities to those which have some bearing on improving the situation in substance. I think that’s a fairly concrete recommendation and can be easily implemented simply by individuals simply asking elected officials on a habitual basis what have they done specifically to bring private investment into the area.

      The hope is to re-orient the officials’ activities toward that which is necessary, rather than simply what is desirable.

      Looking ahead, to be truly effective, in addition to the promise of “better communication” the new mayor carries the significant burden of shifting the debate toward that which is meaningful and significantly narrowing the criteria for incremental success such that those modest measures can be put in-place within the allotted time-frame defined by his initial term.. That’s a tall order especially which one considers the complexity of simply delivering essential services.

      As for the definition of “financially sustainable business”, I’m willing to set the bar fairly low since the in-place alternative (Who me? I just secure “grants”) ) is significantly below the margin of acceptability. At his point, I’d settle for anything that doesn’t require a subsidy of some kind to survive, and that doesn’t invisibly inflate the cost of baseline services provided by taxpayer-funded government workers, or employ some other questionable mechanism to channel public money to a politician’s “friends” in a manner that’s decidedly non-competitive. The rest is gravy unless we suddenly run out of land – in which case we will have inadvertently tripped over one of the true marvels of the free-enterprise system in that, as demand outstrips supply, property values will rise all by themselves without cash infusions from Albany or Washington D.C. – Go figure.

      How about making the “financially sustainable business” criteria a matter for discussion in a series of public meetings where the necessary elements and equations can be debated in a public forum?, recognizing, of course, that a business with a true (not contrived) zero carbon footprint probably doesn’t employ ANY human beings, make any products, or sell any services. Clearly there are those in town who favor precisely this level of industry.

      A reasonable conceptual starting point would be to NOT interfere with or destroy any existing business, which, of course, how we got here in the first place because the proposed “Building a Better Broadway” plan does just that. It harms existing businesses in the opinion of the businesses themselves.

  16. gerald berke

    Mr Suckles Singleton writes well, copiously, and has a lot to say… I am reminded of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech:
    It is it not the critic that counts, not the one who points out where the strong man fell, where he could have done better.
    The credit belongs to that man in the area…

    Mr. Singleton it taking on the role of the critic here… I would invite him into the arena.

    As he is in Kingston, he has an alderman, an alderman at large, a mayor and many department heads that he could work with. I look forward to his participation, away from this poor lot railing on what would be in the real world dusty papers on the floor of the library.

    Perhaps we might have a town hall meeting…

    I see Mr Fornal has attempted to thoughtfully engage S.S…I’d like to hear more from you. Steve Noble ran on a platform of communication: we would be remiss if we did not take him up on this.

    “It’s hard to get a man to understand something when his job (or his point of view) depends on his not understanding.”

    1. Suckles Singleton

      Mr. Berke,

      Indeed, in the context of the comment section of a newspaper’s editorial column, being a respondent to the editorial position of the paper IS being in the arena. Besides, my oratory skills are decidedly sub-par, as I have previously indicated.

      I’m neither complaining, nor indicting, anyone with my remarks – simply observing, and perhaps, in the most narrow manner possible – informing. I’m not an avid bicyclist nor am I am I a business owner along the proposed route of the bicycle path on Broadway. I am not an activist of any kind, although I do occasionally follow the editorial discourse and commentary in one or both of the local newspapers, and online, which is how I arrived at this blog.

      My initial remarks were largely a visceral reaction the strange and ironic underpinnings of Dan’s endorsement of the “Building Better Broadway” Plan, Nothing more. If there is a tone of persuasion or criticism in my writing, it is only because my prose is well-organized and thoughtfully dismantles the especially poor reasoning associated with the plan, comments on questionable tactics employed by its sponsors to impose it on the citizenry, and lays waste to the notion that this should be an “implementation priority” for the City of Kingston for the reasons stated by the plan’s authors and proponents.

      Simply put, If its sponsors haven’t proposed a method for measuring the purported “uplift” in business activity as a consequence of the implementation, then such a claim should be dismissed on its face, and it should be looked at by the residents of Kingston for what it is – an clear attempt by its proponents to undermine the private property rights of certain individuals in order to accommodate the whims of a select, but increasingly vocal minority who shares ONE particular vision for the community based on their own self-interest.

      As you, yourself, have astutely stated in a previous paragraph:

      “This kind of “planning” is akin to starving the guests to improve the enjoyment of the meal .”

      If such a plan is imposed, then it will be a clear demonstration of the Common Council’s acquiescence to such groups in the face of many well-reasoned arguments put forth by local businesses, and several departments of the local government. It will also have the unfortunate side-effect of endorsing the kind of questionable, exclusionary methods that were employed to advance the proposal in the face of predictable opposition.

      Susan put it best:

      “This is about GENTRIFICATION and LIFESTYLE! “

      There should be little doubt, that such indiscriminate coercion elevates the perception that establishing a business in Kingston – no less, along one of its primary corridors, is an increasingly risky investment based on the willingness of the Council to make such wholesale changes without significant and substantive input from the business community itself pertaining to the material portions of the plan – matters such as its location, configuration, and construction. Those who have put forth that plan have attempted to dictate these matters “wholesale” based on the mere presence of the grant – an especially poor approach toward building a community consensus, if I do say so myself.

      In addition, it perpetuates an especially unfortunate phenomena of diverting the taxpayers’ attention away from the lack of significant and effective action toward real economic development with “feel good” projects that do little other than “buy votes” for those who favor such “cosmetics” and perpetuates the perception that the City government’s primary emphasis will continue to be on matters that have little to do with securing the City’s long-term health and viability.

      Again, PETE’s comments are especially pertinent, as to the matter of Council priorities:

      “Kingston needs jobs, period. Government does not best serve the population of Kingston by the creation of bike lanes, affordable housing, or sidewalks. These amenities come later after an affluent population seeks to invest in their communities. Kingston is far from affluent.

      Rather, the government of Kingston should seek to rediscover, and capitalize on all the resources of the surrounding area. This needs to be marketed to large scale investors. Large scale investors need to know why it best serves their bottom line to invest in Kingston. Tax incentives help but are not the answer. “

      I’m afraid I agree with his, rather sober, assessment.

      Suckles Singleton
      Kingston, NY

      1. gerald berke

        “being a respondent to the editorial position of the paper IS being in the arena.”… Nope.
        Use your real name. At least, at the very least, that much.

  17. Suckles Singleton

    Hmm…Interesting, So you’re saying that your purpose here, then, is to “collect names” rather than put forth a position, with respect to the paper’s editorial position?

    Looking back on the comments, I believe I’m the only one that has actually commented on the paper’s endorsement of the plan, rather than the plan itself. There is a distinction. I compliment the blog’s astute moderator for seeing this with crystal clarity.

    Perhaps, you’re simply the “Minister of Information” for some group advocating a particular point-of-view or assigned the task of forwarding their agenda in any and all public forums in order to marginalize those who disagree with either the group’s positions, or their methods – or to to give the appearance of a broad community consensus when, in-point-of-fact – only a vocal minority holds the views that you represent.

    Very clever.

    This is my first posting, here. I’ll have to look at earlier blog posts to better determine the connection between the most prolific contributors. I suspect, based on the extensive discourse, that there are several – and probably some connections within the various political factions within Kingston, itself . Fascinating.

    Fascinating, and potentially disturbing. A coordinated “disinformation campaign” orchestrated by a collective of some kind. One can only imagine how deep the rabbit hole goes.

    I certainly appreciate, however, your having enlightened me to THAT particular set of possibilities. It hadn’t occurred to me.

    Perhaps it helps to explain how such a poorly conceived plan, as the BBB, moved with such apparent haste through the consideration process, un-detected by those who would be the most adversely affected – A sort of hijacking of the local government by operatives in and outside the administration – to “rule” over the citizens rather than to represent them.

    Suckles Singleton
    Kingston, NY

  18. Steven L. Fornal

    Suckles, here’s an example of “A coordinated ‘disinformation campaign’ orchestrated by a collective of some kind.” It’s called supporters of the CMRR (Catskill Mountain RailRoad). The online newspaper sites have been filled with a disinformation campaign coinciding with the recent election hoping to save a for-profit entity (CMRR) that has not upheld its lease agreement with the county in very substantial ways. It is about to lose its lease for this colossal failure so sued the county (lease holder).

    However, the Better Broadway Plan isn’t that at all. It’s an effort to recreate the corridor to better serve those using it. Some quotes from the Daily Freeman (article, letter)

    As Tom Polk Technical Advisory Committee member stated, “Broadway is currently “overlaned,” Polk responded. He said there are four lanes of vehicle traffic for the majority of the corridor but only two are really being used. The two center lanes are used primarily by drivers making left-hand turns, Polk said. “So, it’s really a wasted travel lane or wasted space on Broadway,” Polk said. “So that’s one way to look at it. You’re going to make it more efficient for people who are driving.”

    The “Building a Better Broadway” plan, which has an estimated price tag of $5 million, aims to change the physical layout of Broadway to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, aesthetics and traffic flow.

    As one letter writer stated, “My family took a bicycling vacation up in Quebec last summer. It’s a delightful place, with crowds of people on the streets, exploring what the beautiful city has to offer. There is a wonderful network of bike paths that connect its suburbs with each other and with the inner core of the city. There are plenty of cars in the city, but the experience is one of being with people and human scale architecture, rather than fighting through a sea of automobile traffic.”

    This approach has come precisely because of studies as to what appeals to successful businesses and employees that work for them. It’s a new approach to creating an inviting, safe, efficient environment for transport to and from work, shopping, recreation. etc Countless traffic studies underpin many of the concepts used.

    It is, in fact, like “shovel-ready.” The hope being that if you build such a community you will get successful businesses to find it attractive and buy into it.

    As the letter writer stated, it works. Create such an environment as the Better Broadway plan suggests and it acts as a lure.

    Of course, your points re having only a small number of people participating in the efforts to construct such a plan isn’t quite on the money. The call goes out for people to participate. Most don’t want to have anything to do with such committees UNTIL the committee issues its report THEN people come out of the woodwork to criticize what work has been done.

    In the case of the BBP, complaints came in even before the plan was finished; complaints from small businesses concerned about losing parking spaces. Not sure if you know that, Suckles. The BBP committee immediately altered the plan to reduce the parking spots slated for removal. So, you see, business concerns were heard and were quickly accommodated (the validity or invalidity of said complaints not withstanding).

    Yes, we need a capable workforce to appeal to successful businesses. Ulster County Community College has created a program to transition students to workforce.

    But, again, what I’ve seen over and over is the overwhelming call for lessening of statutes/codes/regulations, for PILOT programs to lessen start up costs, etc coming from businesses. Businesses that are private, for profit companies. This call is having traction as more and more locales attempt to compete with others via giving business what it wants: a playing field with no constraints and public financing.

    Do you realize that this county’s own IDA (Industrial Development Agency) has had a process for PILOT programs that includes an application in which the proposed business puts down how many jobs are to be created (which, after all is the entire raison d’etre of IDA Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreements) but then within the contract signed doesn’t include that job number as a requirement for the monies? And, that’s state wide. Several NYS Comptrollers have done studies on the monies paid out and jobs actually created and found that for the money (here in the Mid-Hudson region $54 MILLION) less than 20 percent of the jobs promised have been delivered.

    I think Emily (above comment) IS the new demographic; the type that will come to Kingston to live and work and start businesses thus reinvigorating the city.

    In much the same way, the rail trail, as an interconnected entity spanning the Hudson River and proceeding through the Ashokan Reservoir is hoped to bring people with disposable income into the region and spend that money in local shops and restaurants and B’n’Bs etc.

    There are people that feel this is a pipe dream. But, and this is where we return to my request of you to be specific, if not this what? What do you propose? Saying government officials should be talking with “sustainable businesses” to find out what they would want in a city doesn’t take into account the many studies available with exactly such data.

    The County Planning Department just put on a two and a half hour training re the transportation study conducted by the county. This is the stuff of setting the stage for sustainable growth.

    So, again, Suckles…what are your ideas as to exactly what you’re writing about? What type of sustainable businesses (your description of what isn’t a sustainable business is general and unhelpful even though I agree with your reasoning re no subsidies, no increase in cost, no political cronyism).

    What do you see as a ground zero approach to building a new economy? A good example is the Niagara Water Bottling company that wanted to open here. Cost benefit analysis of that would clearly show little gain other than a couple dozen low-paying jobs without benefits. The “promise” of more than a hundred jobs was couched in the typical terms of having to wait to see how the business would grow so would be added at some later date. On the other hand, more than a million gallons of water would be taken from Cooper Lake per day. A major hydrological study would have to have been conducted before any consideration could be given. Although with the coming Climate Change demands on clean water it would seem a very poor trade-off as the company was definitely looking for a PILOT.

    So, until you offer something more tangible, I’m not sure what you’re saying. And, by the way, I do not “substantively agree with (your) position since (I, myself) have provided no countervailing argument against my primary assertion, regarding the irrelevance of the “Building a Better Broadway” plan other than as a kind of bromide for a public habitually accustomed to ineffective leadership.”

    I do believe that by creating an, aesthetically appealing city with efficient transport system along with reconditioning dilapidated housing stock and offering companies interconnectedness to markets via roadways AND high-speed internet coupled with a skilled workforce, THESE will create a new Kingston.

    1. Suckles Singleton

      I’m sorry Steven. You’ve really lost me. You’re clearly an advocate for the services that you render, despite the fact that the resultant policies and corresponding deficit spending have produced precisely the opposite result of what was intended whether measured at the city, country, or state level.

      Google it.

      Although I am deeply sympathetic to your personal proclivities, perhaps your sort of “enlightened planning” and its resultant imposition on otherwise free citizens is in itself a substantial disincentive to investment, and even residency.

  19. Susan

    Steven,
    It is about supporting a particularly kind of “lifestyle” at the expense of real infrastructure needs. It has nothing to do with the CMRR, except that the same people who are pushing for bike lanes and trails, are hammering them too. Building a Better Broadway is about gentrifying and pushing up property values in Midtown Kingston, not creating a community which includes the needs of all citizens. Your new Kingston appears to be geared for the privileged few, the well-heeled New Yorkers looking to escape the high cost of living that they helped create, not for the mix of people currently living in Kingston. This is about gentrification by a few at the expense of others.

    1. Paul

      Please…please…please drive up home values! I, like so many others, are underwater with my mortgage value vs. real value. So, while I’m not eager to sell right now, I sure would like to know I could and get a price that at a minimum covers what I owe the bank.

      At 47, I fall between the “new” Kingstonians and the “old guard.” Frankly, I welcome the former and am tired of the latter. New ideas, new energy, creative thinking, putting a value on our unique resources, etc., is all great in my book and I hope more people come to town with that kind of thinking. “I liked it better when…” is not a sustainable conversation starter.

      paul

      1. Suckles Singleton

        I’ll agree that Utopianism makes for a MUCH better conversation. Just stop by a Starbucks, dose-up on a few shots of expresso and speak slightly above the din about “How the 1% needs to contribute more to the well-being of society” or some other popular “trope” and you’ll no doubt find MANY participants with which to engage.

        And, it’s infinitely clear, just judging from the discourse, here, and elsewhere, that those who advocate government-centric solutions are simply flush with new ideas of how to spend other peoples’ money to improve the prospects and living conditions for themselves, those who think like themselves, and people that they imagine that they’d very much like to meet sometime during the course of their lives, simply by standing still.

        Unfortunately, none of those things will cause your property values to rise, and a the vast majority of the schemes discussed during your otherwise pleasant outing to Starbucks will actually have the opposite effect since the cost of government is a major consideration when it comes to private businesses investing private capital in a geographic location. NY State, I think, tops the chart or lags slightly below California which is experiencing a mass exodus of its own.

        No, unless the demand for your property goes up, then your property value will continue to decline in real economic terms. What will rise is your property taxes as more and more businesses leave, the tax-base continues to shrink, and the only new residents are living in Federally-subsidized Section-8 housing or a taxpayer-subsidized artistic enclave populated by well-intentioned “Creatives” producing one-of-a-kind masterpieces for which the market is approximately zero. Meanwhile government obligations continue to grow, in some cases exponentially, for example, as is the case with the multi-tiered pensions that are actually written into the law as “non-negotiable” in NY State!

        So, Paul – I’d pass on the interesting conversations, skip the trip to Starbucks, and instead demand that your local politicians to begin to look elsewhere, rather than to the ever-expanding-and-meandering bureaucracy of government for the solution. The small incremental steps out of this abyss will come in the form of a few brave souls surrendering the oft-quoted trope that “government creates jobs” and the equally ridiculous notion that deficit-spending is the equivalent of “investment”….Oh, and, by the way, “grants” aren’t actually grants if the money is simply borrowed from one agency or level of government and transferred to another – or to future-taxpayers in the form of a government-issued bond.

        Good luck!

        That aside, Have you heard that they’ve found a way to generate a form of electricity by capturing a small portion of the hot air escaping from government buildings and turning it into steam? It might just be the next big thing. Tell you what – I’ll make the website and let’s submit the plan to our County Executive to see if he can secure us a grant to develop this into a renewable resources…. Eh?I’ll agree that Utopianism makes for a MUCH better conversation. Just stop by a Starbucks, dose-up on a few shots of expresso and speak slightly above the din about “How the 1% needs to contribute more to the well-being of society” or some other “popular trope” and you’ll no doubt find MANY participants with which to engage.

        And, it’s infinitely clear, just judging from the discourse, here, and elsewhere, that those who advocate government-centric solutions are simply flush with new ideas of how to spend other peoples’ money to improve the prospects and living conditions of themselves, those who think like themselves, and people that they imagine that they’d very much like to meet sometime during the course of their lives, simply by standing still.

        Unfortunately, none of those things will cause your property values to rise, and a the vast majority of the schemes discussed during your otherwise pleasant outing to Starbucks will actually have the opposite effect since the cost of government is a major consideration when it comes to private businesses investing private capital in a geographic location. NY State, I think, tops the chart or lags slightly below California which is experiencing a mass exodus of its own.

        No, unless the demand for your property goes up, then your property value will continue to decline in real economic terms. What will rise is your property taxes as more and more businesses leave, the tax-base continues to shrink, and the only new residents are living in Federally-subsidized Section-8 housing or a taxpayer-subsidized artistic enclave populated by well-intentioned “Creatives” producing one-of-a-kind masterpieces for which the market is approximately zero. Meanwhile government obligations continue to grow, in some cases exponentially, for example, as is the case with the multi-tiered pensions that are actually written into the law as “non-negotiable” in NY State!

        So, Paul – I’d pass on the interesting conversations, skip the trip to Starbucks, and instead demand that your local politicians to begin to look elsewhere, rather than to the ever-expanding-and-meandering bureaucracy of government for the solution. The small incremental steps out of this abyss will come in the form of a few brave souls surrendering the oft-quoted trope that “government creates jobs” and the equally ridiculous notion that deficit-spending is the equivalent of “investment”….Oh, and, by the way, “grants” aren’t actually grants if the money is simply borrowed from one agency or level of government and transferred to another – or to future-taxpayers in the form of a government-issued bond.

        Good luck!

        That aside, Have you heard that they’ve found a way to generate a form of electricity by capturing a small portion of the hot air escaping from government buildings and turning it into steam? It might just be the next big thing. Tell you what – I’ll make the website and let’s submit the plan to our County Executive to see if he can secure us a grant to develop this into a renewable resource….What are your favorite colors, Eh?

        :))

        Am I “connecting”, yet?

  20. Steven L. Fornal

    Susan,

    The needs of all citizens? The whole point of this back-and-forth seems to be to articulate WHAT can happen to create growth and jobs to the benefit of all citizens. Of course, infrastructure needs could be met…at great taxpayer expense. Thus, grants to help with the cost of such decaying infrastructure; especially since the tax cap put in place by the State doesn’t allow for municipalities taxing enough to gain the revenue required.

    So, again, as requested of Suckles…What do you see as being a viable plan? What would you propose to build? Or how would you entice “sustainable businesses” to come into Kingston to invest their money?

    And your quip about “the same people who are pushing for bike lanes and trails, are hammering them (CMRR) too” is really lacking any kind of veracity seeing as how could you possibly know the truth behind that statement? That may be what CMRR supporters are attempting to portray in a last ditch effort to save their for-profit hobby after basically ignoring their lease obligations for two-and-a-half decades. But, my point about CMRR was that there is truly an example of a “coordinated disinformation campaign organized by a collective of some kind.”

    But, back to your comment. How exactly do you see the Better Broadway (and you’re probably alluding to Midtown greenway development) plan(s) as being “…about gentrification by a few at the expense of others?” What expense to others? If that is referring to driving up home values, what are you suggesting, that housing stock should remain decrepit or that none should ever be reconditioned?

    Realizing that micro manufacturing is the only likely kind to ever materialize in the region in the future, what other businesses can you identify that you imagine could come into Kingston and create the necessary jobs to assist the “needs of all citizens?”

    Another point to remember, government officials when realizing there is need for growth, contact their Planning Department. Here we have an excellent department headed by Dennis Doyle. Ulster County is lucky to have his service. The Planning Department is up on all the latest trends, studies, etc in order to assist government in its need to grow jobs via development.

    This entire discussion seems to have assumed that politicians get in a room and decide what to build. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    1. gerald berke

      It is easy to come to the conclusions you have when you believe that the BBP is right, not an unintended consequence in sight a “This one cannot fail, boss!” attitude: the plan is presented and people are allowed to tweak it…
      Anecdotal evidence is sighted withe the same abandon the CMRR sees gleaming rails into the western sunset. “Broadway its overland” is stated without qualification: a really good portion, is not overland at all, and there is no room for a separate bike lane unless you remove parking on one side of the street… that’s a serious move.
      One lane used for left turns: that’s just the silliness of the stripes: by right it ought to be “no left turn” during rush hours… and at the same time, millions are being spent for a Roundabout (Dec 3 meeting) to route traffic through the town…while the area addressed has NO signaling at all for pedestrians and worn out cross walks in the same manner that Albany Avenue has “pedestrian crossing!” signs while the Kingston Corridor at Broadway has none.
      I will repeat what our next mayor spoke to in his campaign: that the public must be involve before the plans emerge,not after. The way we view stakeholders is much akin to the way our country once selected voters: property owners, primarily white males.
      There is a problem with any plan that requires so very much verbiage… a good measure of a plan, it’s size and scope be considered, is something that fits on a couple of pages, a picture or two, and the reader can look at it and nod “yes” and go about his business.
      And the whole BBP is direction from the top… it’s like plowing up the garden before you look to see what is already growing, what has reseeded from the previous year, what small plant has survived the winder and it taking serious hold…a small gardener is going to take advantage of that and modify this years plans to work around some lovely volunteers … (I was lucky this year: I got 13 pumpkins from some volunteers that wandered out from the compost pile…)
      We see this intensive dialog trying to achieve some understanding that ought to have been in place before the huge plan was rolled out…
      Much of what is being planned in BBB can be achieved quite nicely in some simple, non disruptive steps….
      and “growth” is not “sustainable”…
      As to being required to propose something”better” how does that allow for “gee, things seem to be going OK…what don’t we just keep doing that? oh yeah, and see if we can’t make biking a little better, add some pretty bike racks..
      People who have lived through the Pokeepsie Mall and are finding some problems with the Uptown Pike Plan…
      Between the 587 loop and the Energy Square and BBB and The Greenline and KHS rebuild and what all… looks too much like a sandbox.
      Rather much to handle. (I didn’t mention the Irish visitor center, that huge waterfront development/wolf still at the doorstep…etc etc… )
      The improvements are kind of stressful.

      1. Suckles Singleton

        Stressful indeed!

        Goodness Mr. Berke, you appear to be slowly waking-up.

        Now, for the bad news. You can’t possibly think that despite all of these projects and untold amounts of deficit spending that’s occurred in the name of “economic development” over the last three decades that’s produced nothing but negative outcomes that essentially define what a “business mass exodus” from the state, is would occur if there wasn’t someone benefiting from it, would you?

        What would you think if I told you that the habitual exchange of inter-agency grant monies that are substantially off-budget in the jurisdictions in which the monies are eventually spent constitute ridiculously fertile grounds for creating “potable slush funds” for any number of questionable activities?

        Perhaps the grant process itself isn’t all that it appears to be, do you think? Hmmm…

        Maybe the projects themselves habitually “under-deliver” for their “stated purpose”, but the grants serve an alternate purpose having nothing to do with the kind of “economic development” that you and I might generally be discussing, here…Perhaps, instead it’s the kind of “economic development” that’s actually targeting specific “constituencies”, having very little to do with tangible infrastructure, roads, bridges, nothing like that at all, but instead, focused on embellishing groups of various compositions and or loyalties or, in some cases, even constituencies of one.

        I would imagine that all of those failed projects associated with no measures of success would constitute opportunities for even more ‘economic development” into perpetuity as long as they continued to fail. One might even speculate that a project was worth considerably MORE in terms of “economic development” if it never succeeded at all, and the best possible strategy to maximize the “benefits” of “economic development” would to allow the entire infrastructure deteriorate until the grant required to resurrect it HAD to come from an agency much more flush with “economic development” funds – such as the Federal government.

        Ever wonder why that single broken traffic light is never fixed no matter how many agencies of government are contacted? What on earth could they all be spending their time on – “economic development” of the alternate kind, perhaps ?

        There you go. Now you’re thinking….”NOPOLITICS” also seemingly has a clue…

        Just imagine how such a situation could accelerate under a condition where the distinction between political parties was non-existent, where, let’s say, Democrats ran as Republicans, Republicans ran as Democrats, and when and if an individual could not find a major political party to endorse their candidacy they could simply make-up their own, or where there was the kind of one party rule under which no political advantage could be gained by revealing any of this information, because those involved from every sphere of influence and affiliation were so deeply committed to this arrangement that a condition of “mutually assured destruction” existed between all complicit parties.

        That would be quite the thing, wouldn’t it?

        The visible sign of such activity just might resemble a place that never seems to “recover” regardless of how much money was “granted” to it in the name of “economic development”….The kind of a place where a traffic light could sit broken for years and years without being repaired.

        I’m just saying….

        Just how deep does the rabbit hole go?

  21. Susan

    Steven. Just how do dedicated bike lanes bring in jobs that actually pay people enough to live on while taking away parking spaces for businesses that are actually functioning already?

    How do putting off much-needed infrastructure repairs so that hikers and bikers can ride or walk through or recreate in neighborhoods that are last on the list for any kind of infrastructure improvements benefit the taxpayers that actually live there?

    1. Suckles Singleton

      Double Bingo. Too funny!

      Don’t confuse the issue, Susan, by require proponents of publicly-funded “grand schemes” to produce ANYTHING resembling measurable results. As long as it employs an office or two (or ideally, more) full of “excellent”, well-intentioned, government-funded planners who are up on all the latest trends, and studies, the measurability of outcomes is immaterial.

      Don’t worry, though, when the plan fails to deliver on its unmeasurable outcome, they’ll be another equally grandiose scheme right behind it to make the town over in the image of another imaginary European artist-collective, but this time it will cost twice as much and require existing private property owners to surrender their deeds to the collective, and their children to the fields so that Kingston can raise its own food, in the newly created Capitalism-free zone.

      The preceding failure will be blamed on the internal combustion engine, the wheel, and, finally, the inclined-plane – in that order, but will be quickly swept under the rug by the sympathetic “alternative” press.

      What I’ve yet to be able to decipher, thus far, is how Steven is applying his neurolinguistic programming skills, here, to mask his otherwise vapid argument.

      I’ve got a better idea. Very specific. How about an executive order to eliminate the clear excess in government “planners” until such time that the decades-long exodus FROM New York State actually slows, and a moratorium on additional “growth-oriented” planning until there actually is some.

      1. Steven L. Fornal

        Suckles STILL does not articulate what the hell s/he’s talking about. Generally, yes. But that is something we all know. What businesses are you talking about? How do you propose to get to where you want to get to? You haven’t said anything at all on that account. You simply, as I first stated, continue to criticize without specifying. And, whether or not you’ve articulated your examples elsewhere or not, I’m asking you to do so in this forum so we can have a meaningful dialog.

        The entire state is underperforming if we’re talking about good jobs that pay a living wage and include benefits.

        Okay…we get that. Now, what do you propose, Suckles?

        As for your sarcasm re “measurable results”, perhaps you should address what would satisfy you on that account. You don’t want to bother with studies. You don’t care about trends. You just continue to rag on without contributing anything of measurable substance vis-a-vis EXAMPLES of “sustainable businesses” that would provide the jobs necessary for helping the ‘common citizens’.

        In other words, give me an example of a plan of action that isn’t “irrelevant.”

        Just a single example for starters…and make sure to include your “measurable results”.

        As for your unassailable four bullet points:
        1) Republicans controlled the county legislature for many years. Only lately has it turned Democratic (although with the behind the scenes manipulations by now Chair John Parete denying the majority Dems their rightful share of the chairmanships, committee members in exchange for his becoming Chairman of the Legislature. So, not a one party paradigm.

        2) As for your, ” ACTUAL private capital investment in the region with its intended goal of commercial profitably that would produce products and services with the corresponding desirable side-effects of expanding the area’s tax base and providing employment opportunities for area residents,” as stated several times, you haven’t given a SINGLE EXAMPLE of what type of business that would be; and why would it come to Kingston now?

        3) Is in dire need of an example. Such generalized language could mean anything or (and, this is important) nothing!

        4) Your statements here also need an example to illustrate what you’re talking about. Also, what you describe in terms of no investigative journalism is a nationwide problem w/media.

        Again, your statement, “endorsed the ridiculous, money-wasting, half-baked “Build a Better Broadway” plan that thoroughly compromises the existing local businesses in favor of an unsubstantiated group of “projected” (imaginary) consumers”…is just plain unsupported opinion. What is your data of substance, your measurable results from which you drew upon for stating this? Not to mention, as I did above, the plan was altered to accommodate the small businesses that complained of taking parking spaces. That showed government being responsive to the needs of citizens.

        I think you need to FINALLY articulate what you’re actually intending to state as all you’ve done is list complaints without giving any idea of something better. After all, if you have no vision of what that better business plan is, then you’re simply comparing what has been produced via committee meetings and public hearings, studies and trends etc to an unarticulated future that you have been unable or unwilling to clearly state.

        Hardly fair. Certainly not relevant nor productive.

        1. Suckles Singleton

          But Steven, it’s such a hoot watching you attempt to synthesize another one of your government-centric approaches or to affirm the one that you’ve signed-onto already. I cherish the very few times that I’ve been as entertained by someone as much as I have you, with your “strident tone” insisting on “specifics”. My sides ache!

          I suggest that you read, and attempt to grasp the underlying lessons expressed here: http://ipencilmovie.org/

          Seriously, friend. How on earth did your thinking get turned so upsidedown with respect to cause and effect? I marvel at the level of hubris that is required to attempt to consolidate thousands of independent economic decisions crafted incrementally and serially from individuals expressing their self-interest into a singular set of equivalent government policies.

          The solution my dear Steve is not what the government must do in order to create economically sustainable businesses – It’s what is must stop doing such that those individual interests can express themselves.

          Show me a list of impediments and I’ll show you a bureaucracy that’s run amuck.

          Have you ever lived in India? Have you ever made a payroll? Were you a student of that unfortunate educational phenomena known as “New Math”?

          Are you ACTUALLY serious that by providing Emily with a “safe” bicycle lane on Broadway that some kind of economic “tipping-point” will somehow be satisfied – even though the changes required will demonstrably impede economic activity that is already occurring, and spend millions of dollars of money that’s essentially borrowed.

          You can’t possibly believe this. It’s absurd on its face.

          Even a thousand “Emilys” safely riding their bicycles down Broadway doesn’t in and of itself produce any discernable economic activity – and we could provide Emily a lifetime of private car service for considerably less.

          As Susan stated previously (as others) – The BBB is an accoutrement – A lifestyle embellishment funded by future generations assuming that their existence isn’t negated by this sort of magical thinking.

          There is no known correlation between a bicycle path in KINGSTON with an uplift in economic activity in KINGSTON.

          Such an assertion is a fantasy spun from whole cloth resting on a set of assertions that in no way demonstrate causality – not even in the locations on which the studies that you refer to are based.

          Please tell me it isn’t so. You’ve just been kidding me all along, Right? You kill me.

  22. Susan

    Steven,
    People want measurable results or at least some idea of how you think that we are going to arrive there. Latest trends don’t always measure up and people in this town have a right to know how planners in this city think that the tearing up of Broadway is going to bring growth and why we need bike lanes when there are not a lot of bike riders in evidence on the streets now. A lot of Kingston residents think that this is a half-baked plan like Suckles is telling you. If you want more people on board, including the businesses on Broadway then you, and the planning board have to do better. That is the bottom line.

    1. gerald berke

      I”d have to say yes to that. I keep invoking Steve Noble, but that’s the thinking he ran on: measurable results. Any such grand goal like that is going to need strong support from the people…I see a lot of push back on that .I asked a Broadway shopowner just the other day what he know about BBB… just about nothing…..
      Our new mayor said that the city needs to engage the people, not just expect the citizens to participate with any and all invitations;;

      1. Suckles Singleton

        Well, I concur, and I hope that the new mayor can survive the ideological onslaught that cleverly associates anything that sounds vaguely pleasant and desirable with one or more of the following adjectives: “sustainable”, “green”, renewable, “future”, “investment”, “forward-thinking”, “strategic”, “empowering”, “free”, “critical” etc. in a brazen effort to overcome its fundamental lack of viability, or disguise the raw truth that the expenditure is simply an embellishment for the lifestyle preferences of a subset of the community.

        I commend you for having the courage to ask an actual Broadway shop owner, with what is for me, not an unpredictable result. There’s ample evidence that those responsible for conducting various activities loosely – and I mean VERY loosely (and VERY WEAKLY, I might add) comprising an “impact study” carefully steered their communications and activities around any and all participants in the community that would possibly object to either the broad goals or the specific implementation of the plan. SOME of this was detected which is why, I suspect, that the ensuing backlash has been so harsh. The fact that those representing the delivery of emergency services, such as fire and police, were not contacted is simply unforgivable.

        If your faith is well-founded, then at the very least the new Mayor will insist the Common Council defers any approval on the BBB proposal until such time as a proper and auditable impact study is conducted with the signed consent of the affected businesses, even if it means that the purported grant monies are lost, and then, the proposal itself, in all of its glory, should be prioritized with respect to all other expenditures, projects, and proposals, including, what I have seen here (above, see: SUSAN’s comments) as referred to as necessary, but previously deferred maintenance.

        Those that have authored the proposal, in conjunction with those who support it, need to synthesize some set of metrics for each phase of the project by which any claimed economic uplift will be measured and a methodology needs to be adopted within the implementation itself to ensure that such metrics are collected during each and every phase of the project with the caveat that if the projected “uplift” is not realized, or the metrics are neither properly collected, or prove to ve invalid, that no additional phases of the project should be implemented until such time that other, “better performing” or “higher priority” projects are completed. In business terms this is known as a “meritocracy” – something that all the new “hipster” residents should be intimately familiar with.

        Additionally, proposals of any kind that exceed some arbitrary dollar figure or whose key elements generate considerable public debate (metrics and criteria to be determined) should be presented to the voters, especially, but not exclusively, if the costs of implementation will result in an increase of local taxes. I say not exclusively, because the current mechanism by which otherwise unaffordable proposals move forward is by solicitation and the pursuit of grants that are essentially “off budget”, however, it is seldom that there are not matching-fund requirements, or collateral costs downstream and I believe that the citizens should themselves be responsible for approving monies borrowed “in their name” regardless of the source.

        That’s a responsible start. Let’s see what sort of “chops” the new mayor has to stand-up to those who share his political leanings, and who thought that by electing him their cherished proposals would simply sail through the Common Council like “greased lightening”.

    2. Suckles Singleton

      Apparently, in Steven’s upsidedown world, the taxpayers, on whose backs the five million dollar “grant” rests and whose offspring will eventually be paying the principal and interest on the bonds that support it, apparently aren’t entitled to an explanation as to when the yet-to-be-realized (or even projected) tax revenue “boost” associated with the bicycle lane having been constructed will offset the initial cost of the project, its maintenance and upkeep costs over the ensuing years, the interest on the bond, and the five or so million dollar principal – plus, of course the “new negative” – the tax revenue that’s lost as a consequence of commerce disruption by the addition of the bike lane caused by such pertinent factors as its correspondingly narrowed Broadway (carrying fewer customers to shop, let’s say), or the absence of parking.

      Since NY State is already at least $300+ Billion dollars in debt (second worse in the nation, behind California), any “grant” issued by the state, of course, is, effectively, additional deficit spending which is typically financed by issuing bonds. The same goes for Federal grants. Somewhere someone has to pay back the money because everyone is broke so all grants are effectively loans.

      My “ad hoc” calculations above don’t even take into account the opportunity costs associated with not having used the grant money for other, more lucrative projects with a potentially quicker return-on-investment, or the possibility of doing nothing at all because the estimated revenue upshot over the life of the borrowing is less than the net cost of the financing – i.e. Why trade five dollars of spending to get back three dollars of revenue. Instead do nothing and you’re two dollars ahead.

      As an example, with respect to “opportunity costs”, one alternative might be – What would be the comparative net revenue effects of using five million dollars as a direct incentive to individual taxpayers whose net incomes are 50% higher than the current Kingston mean income to have them simply to relocate to Kingston from other areas? In other words, screw the intermediary bicycle lane “attraction” step, we’ll pay you directly to move here because you make (and presumably, then spend) more money as long as you promise to stay here (some calculable number of years).

      So which is more prudent financially – building a bicycle path or simply handing out “welcome checks” to hipsters?

      The point is THIS. Any such rigorous numerical analysis is completely missing from the BBB proposal, because the proposal is based on what “seems” to the planners to be a “good idea” that “seems” in their individual or collective minds to be “similar” to some study that they saw – or a “trend” they read about in some professional journal or in-flight magazine.

      Alternatively, if we presume something slightly more generous, and allow that they applied some basic mathematics – “Because” there was a mathematical correlation between one or more critical values using regression analysis between “study cities” and “Kingston” for which valid “before bicycle lane” and “after bicycle lane” statistical values exist. Judging from the plan itself, though, – no such calculations were performed – and slightly more offensive to the sensibilities of the casual observer – the thought that a proposal that claimed an economic benefit and whose implementation would be SO disruptive to the status quo wouldn’t be required to provide SOME pertinent calculations is fairly embarrassing – I mean, at least it would be to me if I had been presenting it..

      The real problem is even if such mathematical analysis had been done, that correlation is not causality (as I have already stated elsewhere). There’s no reason to believe that the analysis will have selected the correct criteria on which to base the regression analysis in the first place. There’s simply no way to select the right set of variables because the number of independent variables comparing two cities – even those that “appear” to be similar is way to large to draw any meaningful conclusion regarding “causality”. Therefore, the authors shouldn’t have oversold the proposal by claiming any financial benefit whatsoever, but of course, they knew that it would doom the plan because the principle target of the bicycle lane, by their own admission, are people who haven’t even arrived yet.

      Consequently, and somewhat politely, I might add – I simply referred to the plan as “half baked” instead of characterizing the authors as mathematically incompetent, Simply put, the Plan’s foundation is an emotional appeal to the Emilys in town, and the peers she potentially left behind in the big city somewhere – not a rigorous examination of the plethora of fungible options available when you’re simply spending borrowed money.

      Axiomatically, I think that we can assume at this point: There’s probably nothing more damaging to economic development than a government planner with no clue as to where borrowed “free” money actually comes from or how it is paid back.

  23. Steven L. Fornal

    Talk about hubris? My god, you’ve written plenty about the ills of government, mixing Federal tax codes problems (giving incentives to manufacturers leading to off-shoring of millions of jobs), State issues and local issues.

    You still haven’t said ONE WORD about what you see as the type of business you think could come to Kingston AND what it would take to get it here.

    You’ve continually spoken at cross purposes (a.k.a. contradicted yourself) for instance (see how I give an example of what I’m writing about)” I marvel at the level of hubris that is required to attempt to consolidate thousands of independent economic decisions crafted incrementally and serially from individuals expressing their self-interest into a singular set of equivalent government policies.” Even as you continue to chastise the BBB for not having gotten input from the business owners and residents.

    Thus, a problem with public hearings that often occurs: A lot of people without any sort of knowledge of the problem speaking about their fears of what they only imagine is to happen as they haven’t taken the time to educate themselves to the issue under discussion. Very few ever come with any kind of usable data.

    Again, FOR INSTANCE, the small business owners going on about the loss of parking spaces. What did they use as data? Of course their business has ALWAYS had that space there. But had the store owner ever kept records of any particular space being used? At what times? For how long? On what days over other days? NO…they did not.

    You’ve written on and on without EVER detailing what you seem to be getting at…what kind of business would work in Kingston providing the jobs and revenue required to restore Kingston in all its glory?

    You seem to begrudge grant money as being shifted money. So, how do your propose getting the money to fix the hundred year old sewer system? Filtration plant upgrades? etc?

    I’m glad I’ve given you a laugh. I’ve been attempting to use this as a productive platform; getting to some sort of heading as to what would actually work. You’ve simply been out-gassing generalized criticism. Very much like “Being There” you playing Chauncey Gardener with your pithy statement (which most of us here already understand) that are based upon a very shallow perspective.

    We all can complain. But whenever asked to produce a viable alternative, very few (including you) can do so.

    BTW, I don’t even live in Kingston. Have no political affiliation with anyone in Kingston. I have no personal ax to grind re BBB.

    But, until Suckles brings something of substance to the table, I’ll bid you all adieu.

  24. Steven L. Fornal

    BTW, one last comment: Suckles, you keep insisting that grants have to be paid back by the locality. Those are called LOANS are they not? Grants are usually given without payback requirements; part of “giving taxpayer money back to the taxpayers” strategy.

    I’m all a’twit awaiting your specific proposal that’ll delight and amaze us all as to its creativity and sheer originality.

    1. Suckles Singleton

      Dear Steven,

      I assure you, now, that my very specific recommendations with respect to how the City of Kingston might best proceed regarding the “Building a Better Broadway Plan” are already in the hands of Kingston’s mayor-elect and other members of the Kingston Common Council as we speak. Some of them are recapitulated within the comments here.

      I’m impressed with your singular dedication, however, I’ve tried my very best to diplomatically impress upon you that it’s a fool’s errand to “solve the problem” by synthesizing some sort of conceptually-derived “solution” from a top-down perspective, or even a “broadly drawn consensus”, but you’ve somehow been unable to get your head around the basic idea that underpins my comments and gesture – so here it is: Economics simply doesn’t work that way.

      I could point you in the direction of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, but at this juncture, and based on your demonstrated persistence, I don’t think that it will really help. I’ve already made my point with “A Thousand Emily’s” and somehow it got past you.

      The economy expands when wealth is created. The government cannot create wealth simply by making more money available. To think otherwise is the equivalent of confusing the menu from the meal.

      Here’s the shocker: ANY plan no matter how inspirationally derived, meticulously managed, or brilliantly executed by the government will produce ZERO wealth.

      NONE. NADA. ZILCH. ZIPPO.

      There is hope, however. Susan, apparently one of the many new “Creatives”, and who has astutely commented, here in several instances, has a seemingly a firm grasp that any sort of significant disruption or imposition by government, had better have a methodically derived, and very-well grounded, rationale, if it is to pass muster in the realm of public opinion – primarily because it is disruptive to the creation of private wealth.

      Susan, understands the especially fickle nature of public sentiment, no doubt, because she encounters that characteristic, one customer at a time, and recognizes that bringing actual value to others is only possible one interaction at a time, and that the results of that value she is rewarded by her clients paying her for that perceived, individual benefit.

      That’s in stark contrast to your “experts” with their “studies” all affirming each other’s perspectives, and then, of course, spending the public’s borrowed money, that they would have likely used otherwise, for themselves.

      To your last remark – There are no monies that are granted that do not need to be paid back by someone, at some point of time – unless, of course, the issuing party has no debt and is operating at a surplus. Currently, no such situation or parties exists, consequently, there’s no such thing as “free money” – just like your father probably told you at some point during your life.

      As a personal recommendation, if you’ll permit me, I would suggest that you return your focus (and your wonderful dedication) to creating something of value for which others will be willing to pay you a hefty sum, and keep at it until you’re wildly successful.

      Perhaps your music, or your writing, perhaps something else that you can join together with others to make and build. Perhaps “something” out of raw materials, indigenous to the region, or imported from somewhere else, and assembled and sold from here. Make or do something in the private sector to make yourself more wealthy. If you’re already doing it, take it to the next level.

      With modest success and your already demonstrated persistence, you’ll have more money to spend and in doing so, here in Kingston, in the surrounding communities, you’ll be well on the way toward demonstrating, first-hand what it will take in order to restore Kingston, as you put it “to its former glory”.

      By creating wealth for yourself, from within the private sector, you will invariably expand the opportunity for others to do so as well. The bigger your success, the larger the opportunity will be for others, and as a consequence the area will become more affluent causing property values to rise, and all of the rest.

      You will have successfully unlocked the “secret recipe” associated with that which you have been unable to find in my remarks.

      Good Luck!

      Sincerely,
      Suckles Singleton
      Kingston NY

      1. Steven L. Fornal

        Suckles, and I hail your dedication to NOT ONCE naming an example of the type of business that you believe can come into Kingston and deliver jobs and broaden the tax base even as it lessens the tax burden for residential land users.

        As to your statement, “Here’s the shocker: ANY plan no matter how inspirationally derived, meticulously managed, or brilliantly executed by the government will produce ZERO wealth.”

        Just off the top of my head I think of the highway system and bridges and airports and internet and, well, you should get the message that your statement is plain wrong. ALL wealth in the United States stems from the transportation system and is growing with internet which is a result of government planning and paying for.

        I never once even alluded to FREE money, but grants are given via tax payer money to tax payers for infrastructure needs and as incentives to prod certain industries and/or the economy vis-a-vis growth.

        And, you really diss county planning department folk. You make is seem as if they only get some ideas occasionally from reading a book or an article in a travel magazine on their way to ???? The UC Planning Department is filled with dedicated public servants who spend huge amounts of time researching the newest studies. And your denigration of studies as being arbitrary or via your statement that “There’s no reason to believe that the analysis will have selected the correct criteria on which to base the regression analysis in the first place. There’s simply no way to select the right set of variables because the number of independent variables comparing two cities – even those that “appear” to be similar is way to large to draw any meaningful conclusion regarding ‘causality’,” clearly proves my point. You classify everything as being not good enough. What, then DO YOU PROPOSE?! Your request for pure mathematical approach is for the classroom as rarely if ever does reality conform to such simple black and white analysis. And, while OF COURSE no two towns/cities are identical there may be different results when attempting to do the same type of development. But, does that mean such studies of “like” municipalities that have employed various schemes with success has no benefit? That’s just…I won’t characterize it.

        Suckles, give me a scrap from your full table of criticism, please. GIVE ME ONE EXAMPLE (for your criticisms must have a counterpart of success that you seem to compare these BBB efforts to) of a successful sustainable business that could come to Kingston and perform the capitalistic miracles of which you speak.

        I think you missed your time frame; Reagan is dead and so is his trickle down theory. With the top tenth of one percent garnering the huge percentage of financial growth over the past thirty years and jobs produced not having anywhere near corresponding growth, your amorphous “Secret Recipe” is the same claptrap we’ve all heard a million times on comment sections like this one.

        “What we need is more businesses to come in and provide jobs.” No s**t, but WHAT KIND OF BUSINESSES are you talking about. No more cheering for the Ayn Randian capitalist wetdream.

        For, you see, the most important remark I made was about the American economy being largely driven by fetish consumerism which always relies on the “next big thing” (and then cheaper version rip-offs). It isn’t like producing what people NEED which would be a more manageable situation. It is about what people WANT which is complicated by advertising to sell people what they don’t need.

        I think you completely missed that!

        By the way, I do have to wonder why you no doubt googled me to find out what I do in order to have this conversation. Googling you just gave me a number of entries like this: “Circadian rhythms of ewes suckling singletons versus twins during the second week of lactation.”

  25. admin

    Confidential to Suckles – Don’t know if you read my e-mail about putting a cap on ad hominem attacks but if you embrace what it said and what I’m saying to you now, perhaps the fourth time will be the charm. (And for future reference, those posters with the intestinal fortitude to use their real names in their posts get a little more leeway than those who lack such fortitude.) – Dan the editor

    1. Suckles Singleton

      Dear Editor:

      Notwithstanding the fact that my overly-aggressive e-mail spambot laid waste to your e-mail “advisories” (sorry), I’m at a loss as to your characterization of my comments as “ad hominem attacks” seeing as my remarks merely seek to characterize the views, and opinion rather than the individuals making them.

      The very notion that government should be “planning an economy” is Stalinist in origin, regardless of whom is representing that view. As for those working in the Ulster Country Planning Department – I’m sure they are well-intentioned and sincere individuals, however, I question entirely the role of the government with respect to such activities. Any inference that they were being attacked as individuals is an unsubstantiated inference drawn by Mr. Fornal, and apparently his attempt to associate his inference with my “inert” remarks has tripped you up. I lodged no such attack other than questioning the prudence of paying them to continue to plan for growth when there hasn’t been any.

      Furthermore, anything that might be construed here, vaguely, as a “rant” is coming clearly from Mr. Fornal’s direction – I’ve merely stated that I find it incredibly humorous, which is a characterization of my reaction rather than Mr. Fornal, or Mr Fornal’s intent (decidedly).

      I’ve clearly created a great deal of consternation over my unwillingness to indulge with him in, what I consider to be a fool’s errand – picking “winners and losers” like some aparachik within the former, failed, Soviet Union, which employed similar thinking, because I consider the entire notion to be, quite arguably, contrarian to the essence of Capitalism, ostensibly, the underlying basis under which his question originates.

      The notion that someone expressing Stalin-like solutions to “invigorate” Capitalism is terribly ironic, if not drop-dead laughable. If that constitutes an “ad hominem attack” then it’s only because Stalin has been so discredited by history – even in the former Soviet Union by avid Communists. Regardless, the characterization I made is an accurate one – that of “Central Planning” further reinforced by Mr. Fornal’s claim that the government “creates wealth”, which, of course, it doesn’t.

      As for the rest of my, now, four times re-edited, and still unpublished version of the same message – It’s substantially educational, if not for Mr. Fornal’s benefit, then, perhaps to those listening-in on the discussion. Understanding that government entities granting monies to other government entities where neither has any underlying assets constitutes deficit-spending and the creation of a financial obligation by future generations, is an important, and seldom discussed, truism. To suggest otherwise constitutes an attack on common sense.

      The core of the debate, I claim, is neither “which type of of business”, or “which deficit-spending financed project should be undertaken by government to attract”, the same – It’s what is the proper role of government in light of a truly appalling record with respect local, county and state government in establishing the conditions under which private businesses (Capitalism) will thrive.

      With explanation in-hand, I request that you print my last revision as is. I have little doubt that it won’t be changing Mr Fornal’s mind about anything, but it will guide the reader, perhaps, to re-examine the notion that Mr. Fornal’s allegiance government-centric solutions, no matter how well-intentioned, should not go unchallenged despite their well-documented failure, both locally and historically.

      As for Mr. Fornal, I wish him my very best.

      Sincerely,
      Suckles Singleton
      Kingston, NY

    2. Suckles Singleton

      Also, I might add, that Steve Fornal’s insistance in asking his rhetorical question having been unchallenged, substantially departs from the fact that your paper’s endorsement of the Building a Better Broadway plan was crafted on the thinest possible premise, as to be in and of itself an indictment of “Central Planning”. Nowhere do you claim anything on the order of that which the proponents of this – and many other deficit-funded projects, claim – regarding economic benefits. From my perspective that’s “dunning with faint praise” – Expertly executed by your editorial, I might add. In that sense, my comments are very much aligned with responding to your editorial whereas Mr. Fornal’s are nothing other than a cleverly crafted diversion; A distraction, as it were. All the more reason to print my remarks as is.

Post Your Thoughts