For the down-on-their-luck, it hasn’t been a great past couple weeks here in K-town. The proposal to put subsidized housing and some other things like artists’ space and galleries at the site of the soon-to-be-demolished King’s Inn caused the city, pretty much in unison, to reach for its torches and pitchforks. At the Queen’s Galley, the soup kitchen and boarding house kept back from the brink for so long by Diane Reeder, her staff and volunteers and the generosity of the community as a whole, things are looking dicey as it faces more than a dozen code violations — some minor and some, like fixing a roof, quite major. The city has given it until Aug. 29 to sign some contracts with contractors or the residents will be (for their own safety, you know) put out on Washington Avenue.
As for the King’s Inn, it’s not hard to understand the distaste for the Safe Harbor plan. It is true that Kingston has a lot of people on social services, which is also not hard to understand. This is where the cheapest housing and all the social services are, after all, and if you can’t drive, you need to be close to them. But, especially considering the rest of Ulster’s “County to City: Drop Dead” attitude when it comes to the Safety Net issue, people want to see something else — anything else — on that spot and feel other communities ought to start taking in their share of those in need. That’s only fair, and the rest of Ulster should be ashamed of itself for allowing the Safety Net situation to continue as it has.
Before people start to look askance at Kingston for resisting more subsidized housing, let’s see some get built in the more well-to-do sections of the county. After all, why should rich people get to hog all the nature? Woodstock is already doing its part, but the way some people up there are carrying on about it, you’d think RUPCO was putting up a nuclear-powered hydrofracking rig, tire dump and lard-rendering plant instead of affordable housing.
As for what should be built on the King’s Inn’s bones? In a fantasy world, it’d be a commercial enterprise bringing jobs and plumping the tax base. That kind of thing is in really short supply these days, though, so if the Economic Development Fairy fails to wave her magic wand over Broadway, I like Aimee Murphy’s suggestion of a basketball court. Put in some lights and some bleachers, and maybe we can get something as cool as Rucker going.
The Queen’s Galley woes are heartbreaking. Reeder has worked very hard and done a very kind thing by feeding and housing people many of us would prefer not to have to deal with. It’s a tough deal; the landlords are looking to get their investment back and that’s not a crime, but the last thing Kingston needs is 40 more people without somewhere to live and heaven knows how many who wouldn’t eat otherwise. Truly, I hope something can be worked out. God save the Queen’s?