This morning, I talked with Mike Hein on Kingston Community Radio about how I disagreed with his plan to rip up the Kingston Plaza railroad tracks. I mentioned two points. 1). The City of Kingston’s residents and businesses will definitely be hurt by Hein’s plan to rip up the plaza tracks and end the Thomas the Tank Engine, Peanuts and the pumpkin rides and the Polar Express events. 2). The many visitors from out of town and in town to the plaza train events may include business leaders who begin to like the Kingston area and the train and may want to move a business with jobs to Kingston. However, they will hear local news and people talk about how local leaders Mike Hein and Shayne Gallo want to rip up the Kingston Plaza tracks and effectively end the fantastic train events, such as Polar Express. Why would businesses want to locate here when they find out that Mike Hein and Shayne Gallo are making plans that will hurt City of Kingston businesses and residents? Let’s tell Mike Hein and Shayne Gallo that we want to keep our railroad tracks at the Kingston Plaza.
Ralph Mitchell, Kingston
All for the Greenline
I have always believed in the promise and potential of Kingston. I’m a scenic artist who works in film and TV mostly in New York City, but I bought a house in Kingston seven years ago as testament to the love I have for this historic and eclectic little city. The house is located with its backyard adjacent to a Midtown section of the former U&D corridor, and although I love where I live, for years that abandoned corridor was a liability and an eyesore. It had become overgrown after years of neglect and was used as a dumping ground for old tires, mattresses and every other imaginable kind of garbage. And it wasn’t just unsightly, it was a legitimate hazard, and one that I had resigned myself would never be adequately addressed. However, one day last year, I returned home to find a miraculous transformation had taken place. The debris had been removed, the brush cut down and a path of woodchips had been carefully laid down between and alongside the rails.
The clean-up was more thorough than I could have ever anticipated. Upon inquiry I discovered that volunteers from the Kingston Land Trust Rail Trail Committee, with generous help from neighboring Church Communities, including the Bruderhof, had performed the clean up as a first step in the development of the 1.5-mile Kingston Point Rail Trail. It was slated to become a multipurpose urban rail trail running from Midtown to the waterfront. I also learned that the Kingston Point Trail was part of a larger projected Kingston Greenline project, a linear park running from the Strand all the way out into the Catskills, which was in turn a part of an initiative, funded by $4.3 million in competitive grants, to revitalize and create connected communities throughout our city. And just a few weeks back the city celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony kicking off the formal initial construction of the Kingston Point Trail, with detailed design and construction to follow over the coming year.
I am so happy to see Kingston move forward with this plan. One of my favorite things to do in our area is to take a jog or stroll along one of the existing rail trails in Marbletown and New Paltz. The ability to be within nature while still being within walking distance to our historic communities makes enjoying the outdoors convenient and accessible to many. Also, in New York City I use my bike as a primary mode of transportation, which has been greatly improved with the city’s implementation of bike lanes and bike awareness. Sharing the road with cars can be treacherous, and with the eventual continuation of the Greenline, I will be able to step out of my back door, hop on my bike to commute or shop, or go farther afield into the countryside. I also believe this rail trail is the kind of amenity that will attract bike tourism to our communities and people like myself that come for weekends and vacations will be encouraged to move here, renovate properties and bring improved economic development. And for the people who are here, we can share in the beautification of our little city and provide access ways other than roads to get from one place to another, while enjoying the scenery. I would like to thank the Common Council and officials, the County Legislature and officials, the Kingston Land Trust and everyone else involved with advancing this vision for our city. Here’s to a greener, healthier, more vibrant Kingston.
Beth Lonergan, Kingston
Don’t rush this
In all the pros and cons with the Niagara Bottling proposal I’ve not read anything about the effect on previous Kingston commitments to the water in Cooper Lake. I’m thinking about what we have already committed to the developers of The Landing and Sailor’s Cove, developments that would increase our resident population by 10 percent.
The Kingston Water Department maintains we had no problem with meeting IBM’s requirement for 1.75 million gallons of water per day but the fact is IBM never used that amount of water on a daily basis. And I also recall that a few years ago, long after IBM left the area, we were put on a water-use restriction for a number of weeks to deal with low water levels in Cooper Lake.
The smell of a possible $16 million infusion by Niagara Bottling to help upgrade the aging Kingston water infrastructure is certainly worthy of consideration. But let’s objectively study this, weigh the pros and cons and not blindly rush into a decision with unintended consequences.
Ronald E. Dietl, Kingston
Scrutinize Niagara Bottling
KingstonCitizens.org was formed in 2004 to support transparency and civic engagement in government. We are concerned that the Niagara Bottling proposal is being rushed without adequate consideration of potential economic and environmental costs. If the Town of Ulster is named “Lead Agency” in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, it will determine whether a full environmental impact study (EIS) is needed for the Niagara Proposal.
A “Positive Declaration,” which triggers the EIS, is necessary to assure a safe, responsible evaluation of the Niagara Bottling proposal in the Town of Ulster. A Positive Declaration is required when potential exists for at least one significant environmental impact.
This potential exists.
The last scientific evaluation of the capacity of Cooper Lake, Kingston’s water supply, was in 1961. Even if the final engineering study for Kingston’s Water Board delivered on Nov. 12 concludes our water capacity is adequate, it has done so without up-to-date science. Weather and rain patterns are changing and unpredictable. There is more erosion and drought, and less snowmelt to replenish our water table.
At last week’s Ulster Town Board meeting, Supervisor Quigley admitted he hasn’t seen any cost/benefit calculations to prove that a limited number of below-industry-standard jobs are worth expensive highway wear and tear, the foreclosure of the opportunity to attract other industries, limiting the supply of water available to create new housing in the future, and 10 years of enormous tax breaks to Niagara. Our citizens and school district residents could end up paying to host this company.
A Positive Declaration and thorough evaluation of impacts are imperative. Let’s not sacrifice our region’s long term well-being for short-sighted development unsuited to our needs.
Rebecca Martin, Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Heather Schwegler, Debra Bresnan, Kitty McCullough, Rachel Marco-Havens: Kingstoncitizens.org