Letter: ICCHV will be good neighbor

ktx hudsonfultonstampA good neighbor

I wholeheartedly support the Irish Cultural Center, and I’ve been dismayed to read recent letters containing misinformation as to the “true” goals of the planners of the ICC. As a person of Irish descent, I have also been offended at the not-so-thinly veiled stereotypes of the “drunken Irish” that some writers warn would roam the Rondout after visiting the wicked ICC pub. But the most recent accusation that the ICC organizers committed actions that proved they would be bad neighbors was utterly false. Nothing could be further from the truth.

ICC members did not cut down sycamore branches on The Company Path. That was Mr. Mike Piazza when he was laying drainage pipes for his building. But I’m happy to tell you what ICC volunteers (including me) have done going back several years: we cut down poison sumac trees, massive brambles and brush that had grown so tall on the hillsides that there was no view at the top of the Company Path. Volunteers chopped and weed-whacked, and hauled away years of garbage that had been hidden in the undergrowth. The amazing and tireless Joyce Carey led the ICC Garden Committee to restore the Pocket Park and hillsides. Volunteers got rid of swaths of poison ivy, hauled heavy buckets of plants and good soil from their own gardens and spent their own money to plant and beautify the area. For months we picked up crack vials, drug paraphernalia and smashed beer bottles left by those who preferred the area to remain overgrown. One letter writer said they moved into their apartment in the old Bridgewater because of the nice view and the pretty park. That’s a wonderful compliment to the dedicated ICC folks who clearly made such a difference that it made the writer want to live there. That sure sounds like a good neighbor to me. Every time ICC volunteers were out working in force, not one neighbor stopped to complain while we endeavored to restore this historic and neglected part of Kingston. They did however stop to give us praise, thank you’s, and smiles.

And a word about Irish pubs — the Irish public house historically and today has always functioned as a community gathering place even in the smallest towns. They were never considered a “bar” like English pubs, Irish pubs are a place for music, storytelling, light meals, and fellowship. I visit relatives in Ireland every summer — and I can tell you that even today, entire families come to pubs with their children and even their pets. It’s a social, cultural gathering place — and it is this true definition of a pub (not the offensive stereotype) that the ICC will bring — a true gathering place for neighbors and visitors to share stories, eat food prepared by those taking the cooking classes, and listen to music performed by those taking lessons at the Irish Cultural Center.


The ICC planners are primarily lifelong Kingston residents who have a deep love of Kingston’s history, and who are committed to creating a true cultural center so that the role of Irish immigrants and Irish culture in Kingston will be preserved for future generations. They are committed to Kingston, its history and its future. And that’s a pretty fine neighbor to have.

Rose Bonczek, Kingston

There are 3 comments

  1. Steven Lance Fornal

    Keeping one’s property clean of “years of garbage that had been hidden in the undergrowth” is a property owner’s responsibility. Too bad it took years to uphold that responsibility.

    However, that in no way excuses the way this proposed project has insinuated itself upon the neighborhood. I speak of (based upon what has been written in the Freeman/letters, etc) a ZEO determination to allow West Strand Street development standards be applied to the ICC which isn’t contiguous to West Strand Street; requesting that parking for 51 spaces be waived to allow just 18; requesting that the building be allowed violate setbacks in order to expand right up to its lot line with residential uses; requesting venues (restaurant and entertainment theater) which have little to nothing to do with cultural enlightenment, each with capacities that outstrip the available parking in the neighborhood.

    I think everyone welcomes culture. However, the ICC plan includes a cultural aspect as, at best, a tertiary priority.

    This project proposed for its current location, is too big and will have far too much impact on not only the surrounding properties but the entire neighborhood.

  2. Judith Emilie

    In all the dialogues that have taken place around this issue, I haven’t sensed any references, thinly-veiled or otherwise, to “drunken Irish,” except those like this one, brought up by a supporter of this project in its present incarnation – too large and too impactful on the neighborhood. And half of my family is of Irish descent.

  3. Harvey Siegel

    A lovely cultural center would be welcome in this small residential street. Whether it is Irish, Polish, Italian, Hungarian, Jewish, Hispanic, etc.
    To call this project a cultural center is akin to calling an elephant and ant!
    Why would a three story building with a banquet/catering hall, an entertainment facility, a pub (which they are now calling a tearoom?)with the capacity for over 400 people be deemed a cultural center.
    A museum, classrooms, library that educates and enlightens people to different cultures and journeys would be a cultural center.
    The City of Kingston Governing body, the AOH and the ICC are so closely intertwined that this is a done deal with no concern for the residential street, the neighboring residents, the businesses or anyone else.
    How many of the government officials have donated to the ICC or to the AOH for this project. How many are members of the AOH (the parent and founding organization of the ICC). The City is allowing this monstrosity of a building to change it’s zoning to another street? It is on Abeel Street, the address is 32 Abeel Street…the Zoning Officer has granted them permission to say they are on West Strand (therefore they do not have to comply with the zoning of a residential block. The parking (which for any other building is strictly enforced) for 430 people would be 151 spots. The planning department has deemed 51 spots enough for this project…by the way for now they have 18 spots and are still moving ahead.
    This is a sad travesty of “transparent” government. This reeks of a Tammany hall type of governing…it’s who you know – not what is fair for all.
    Everyone would support a real, reasonable size true cultural center. This is an enormous clubhouse.

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