Mayor Steve Noble took a victory lap Friday, Dec. 9, touting the city’s success in the annual competition for state funding known colloquially as “the Upstate Hunger Games.”
At a City Hall press conference, Noble announced that Kingston had been awarded nearly $3.3 million in funding through the state’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Now in its sixth year, the program vets funding requests from municipalities, nonprofits and private investors. Proposals are assigned scores based on viability and compatibility with state and regional economic development goals. Noble said that the city had been awarded six of nine grant requests through the program and received the biggest single share of some $83.3 million given out in the seven county Mid-Hudson region.
The grants include:
- A total of $2.25 million included in two separate grants for the “Broadway Clean and Green Streetscape” project. The money is the latest infusion into a proposed redesign and modernization effort that officials say with transform Kingston’s Broadway corridor over the next few years. Plans call for new traffic signals, crosswalks and other amenities, as well as new plantings, improved drainage and a new traffic plan that would create protected bike lanes by moving parking away from the curb into the roadway. The proposal is currently in the design phase, with construction expected to begin sometime in 2018. One of the grants, totaling $850,000, will pay for new traffic signals, improved bus stops, bike lanes and “streetscape amenities” on a 3,200-foot-stretch of Broadway between St. James and Grand streets. A second $1.4 million grant will pay for “green infrastructure” to help reduce stormwater runoff along Broadway by replacing traditional concrete with porous paving stones, tree pits and “bioswales” — landscape elements containing plants, compost and loose rocks which help with stormwater management. Noble said that the new infrastructure would cut down on sewage overflows into the Rondout Creek and reduce the flow of stormwater into the city’s aging treatment plant.
- A $500,000 grant will pay for trailheads some surfacing on 1.5 miles of rail line slated for conversion into a walking and biking trail. Noble said that the money represented “the last piece of the puzzle” in the rail trail proposal. The money will pay for the final stretch of trail between Cornell Street and the New York State Trolley Museum on the Rondout.
- A $300,000 grant will pay for infrastructure improvements at Kingston Point Park. Plans call for the creation of a soccer field, improvements to the parking lot and dog park and new energy-efficient lighting.
- A $197,000 grant will fund design work for continuation of the ongoing sustainable shoreline project on the Rondout Creek waterfront. The project includes stabilization of the shoreline with new bulkhead, flood-control measures and upgrades to the promenade.
- A $50,000 grant will pay for the hiring of an environmental asset manager to design and implement new protocols for managing the city’s fleet of vehicles and update a 2010 survey of greenhouse gas emissions. The program is intended to help the city better track energy use and efforts to reach energy reduction goals contained in the 2012 Climate Action Plan.
Noble said the city was turned down for grant requests that would have paid for new aeration equipment at the sewage treatment plant and actual construction (instead of just design) of new bulkhead. Noble, who worked for the city as a grant writer before his election, praised the grant-writing team led by Kristen Wilson for their hard work and diligence. Noble added that the effort had also benefited from an ultimately unsuccessful bid for downtown revitalization funds offered by the Regional Economic Development Council earlier this year. While the city did not receive the funding, Noble said the effort had laid the groundwork for the recent round of grant requests and given city officials a chance to meet face-to0face with members of the council.
“We had a great team and I think that set us apart from a lot of other communities,” said Noble. “We had our act together.”