There seems to be some confusion, misinformation or disinformation regarding the Building a Better Broadway project. I would like to inform the public that contrary to news reports and letters in the local press, 55 parking spaces on Broadway will not be lost as a result of the Building a Better Broadway plan. The revised plan calls for 10 spaces to be removed between Liberty Street and Grand Street for pedestrian safety and bus stop improvements. All other parking spaces between Grand Street and East Chester Street will be retained. Furthermore, the bike lane will end at Grand Street. These changes were made after public meetings, involvement of the Kingston School District and in response to the concerns of local businesses.
Tom Polk, chairman, Kingston Complete Streets Advisory Council
Reverse budget cuts
Dear Common Council members:
We believe that the Office of Economic Development and Strategic Planning is under-salaried and under-staffed to the detriment of the city’s growth. Under the mayor’s proposed budget, however, the director’s salary and staffing will be further cut.
We are writing you to urge you instead to increase the director’s salary and office staffing in consideration of how the office under the leadership of Gregg Swanzey has energetically employed the tools of 21st-century economic development to all aspects of the city’s commercial and social revitalization.
One of Gregg’s most important achievements has been the critical role he has played in providing city support for the developing [Midtown] arts district. Those of you who were able to attend the tour of the arts district business core last week were able to see the potential of the district to turn the underused assets of Midtown into an economic stimulus and become a major economic attractor for the city as a whole.
In 2013, Gregg responded to the call from five arts-based manufacturing and gallery businesses on Ten Broeck Avenue/Cornell Street that employ more than 60 people by serving as the city’s proactive liaison in the creation an arts district in Midtown. Today, five action teams, comprising nearly 70 business people and residents, are working with the city to help Kingston capitalize on its extraordinarily high population of artists city-wide, the nearly 200 people pursuing creative jobs and livelihoods in Midtown, and the growing numbers of creative workers being priced out of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Gregg has tirelessly shepherded the research, civic connections and public participation to build momentum for the arts as an economic generator for Kingston. With Gregg’s support, we are developing strategies to attract new arts-based businesses, create jobs and expand the tax base in Midtown.
Gregg was also instrumental in helping set up the Arts Advisory Commission that will liaison with the mayor’s office in promoting and coordinating arts activities throughout the city.
When Gregg took over the Office of Economic Development, he reorganized it in coordination with other municipal departments and community partners to more effectively seek, administer and manage grant funded activities of the city resulting in just under $10 million in new and resurrected grants supporting exciting new initiatives.
This created a larger picture of obtaining grants for connectivity and planning that has provided a context for other developments that, like the arts district, affect both opportunities and long-festering problems for the city:
- Gregg helped to lay the foundation for Midtown revitalization by partnering with Ulster County Transportation on the Building a Better Broadway initiative.
- He partnered with UPAC and RUPCO to secure a $250,000 Central Hudson grant for streetscape improvements along the pivotal Broadway/Cornell/Greenkill axes in the heart of Midtown.
- Gregg reactivated a Brownfields Opportunity Act (BOA) award for waterfront planning that had lapsed and was scheduled for cancellation. He guided the expansion of the project to include extensive public participation and promoted the selection of Perkins+Will — an international leader in urban and waterfront planning — as the grant contractor. This proactive leadership helped Kingston benefit from world class urban planning skills and ensured that the resulting Generic Environmental Impact Statement will facilitate both a community-authored vision and proactive re-investment in Rondout’s derelict waterfront brownfields.
- Gregg was an active participant in the Tidal Waterfront Flooding Task Force to help ensure that the city can help property owners protect the value of their waterfront properties through proactive planning and design.
- Gregg responded to the call from the historic preservation community to better protect the city’s historic resources and more effectively deploy them for economic development by applying for and assisting in the implementation of three certified local government grants and a Hudson River Valley Greenway grant. These four grants provided Kingston with its first ever preservation coordinator and more than $60,000 toward improving access to preservation tax incentives that can help make urban redevelopment projects affordable for private investors and property owners.
- Gregg actively partnered with the Kingston Land Trust and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Complete Streets Initiative to help Kingston take advantage of the national trend that is deploying “walkability” and walking/bike trails to stem disinvestment and spark revitalization in urban commercial corridors and neighborhoods.
As residents and businesspeople in Kingston, we are grateful for the full range of benefits Gregg has helped achieve for our economy and community. We hope you will join us in supporting him in his position as the Director of Economic Development & Strategic Partnerships as we all work together to move Kingston forward in a new administration.
Thank you for the opportunity to express our support for Gregg Swanzey and the Office of Economic Development & Strategic Partnerships under his tenure.
Anne Bailey, Bailey Pottery
Micah Blumenthal, Center for Creative Education
Frank Campagna, ColorPage
Ray Curran, Artist, Urban Planner
Renée Darmstadt, Cornell Street Studios
Ruth Ann Devitt-Frank, director of development for UPAC/Bardavon
Richard Frumess, R&F Handmade Paints
Kevin Godbey, Kingston Happenings
Michael Jubie, American Made Monster Studio
Linda Marston-Reid, executive director, Arts Mid-Hudson
Kitty McCullough, Historic Kingston Waterfront
Kevin O’Connor, CEO RUPCO
Michael Piazza, M. Piazza Real Estate
Chris Silva, executive director, UPAC/Bardavon