Letters: What ‘Restore Kingston Pride’ means to me

What does Restore Kingston Pride mean to me?

I have to start with beliefs about families and people. I grew up in a place where lives were cheaper than most of you know. I watched people being hanged and shot down in the street in Africa on my way to seeing Marine Guards in the U.S. Embassy.

I remember thinking that there was a place where people had opportunities in safety that was foreign to me but normal to them.

When I adopted Kingston as my home in 2004 I learned a lot about a place that leaned on a business that fed and clothed and housed thousands and were able to do so because there was powerful economic prosperity here. Not just one business. I knew IBM was long gone by then but the city still reeled from the loss. There was a spawn of companies around that spawned many more that all in turn provided for thousands in turn.


When that business left, the neighborhood was devastated. There seemed to have been an expectation that the revenues generated from that could be replaced by the rest of us. It ends up, it could not. Yet the city still chose to spend as if that paradigm was still reality. And Kingston degraded into neighborhoods that created a reality that said your kids would not be safe on Broadway, would not be safe on Henry Street.

What Restore Kingston Pride means to me is prosperity. Where most of the people you know in the neighborhood are working great jobs that pay fantastic salaries and a small portion of that income goes back to the city encourages more of those companies to take a chance on our community.

Instead, what has been built is a place where new fantastic jobs can’t be located here because the city has created a tax climate that makes it impossible for fantastic, high-growth potential companies to plant roots here. How can this be? If we look in any direction we see heart-stopping landscapes. We see amazing river adventures. We see life-changing weekend camping. We see once-in-a-lifetime skiing.

We citizens know all of that is true, but yet we still can’t attract little more than a local coffee shop or a new art dealer.

Why? Because the city punishes business and earnings like they are the most evil concept ever conceived. Strange to do so for a city that was historically founded on the principles of production of our fertile soil and our contribution to things like the canal system, the brickyards and the cement business and so much more in our history.

If this city wants to become a fantastic place to love that doesn’t literally obliterate the retirees paying into the city coffers, it will learn that the business multiplier is the most prosperous way to grow the city resources, fund fantastic projects, give men and women a sense of pride every day by having produced something, lower all of our tax burden to each other by changing the ratio between those that only produce and those that only consume, and make this a town where everyone in the community relishes the chance to take a walk in the neighborhood, greet everyone with a smile and say, “Good Morning!”

Robb Engle

There are 4 comments

  1. JamaicaonHudson

    If this man thinks Smorgasburg is akin to a “local coffee shop”, or that NYC-based developers are buying up swaths of the Stockade (and Rondout) for “art galleries”, I have a bridge in (gentrified) Brooklyn to sell him. Everyday, as an almost lifelong resident, I see the impact of rapid gentrification: New festivals, concerts, hotels/AirBnBs, shops, breweries, ride-sharing services, semi-professional sports teams. Furthermore, few of those businesses (or plans) face opposition (and many receive lucrative tax deals/PILOTs). Kingston doesn’t have a “hostile business climate”–provided you have the right business…

    Unfortunately, the redevelopment (which is now seeping into the Midtown section of the city) has resulted in sky-rocketing rents and housing assessments. This has lead to an affordability crisis for many on fixed incomes (which includes low-wage workers, middle-income households, and retirees). It has also contributed to an, at times, tense environment between locals, and newcomers. As a result, you see the Tale of Two Cities in our own backyard: The “new” Kingston is celebrating festivals, murals, new eateries, soccer games, a booming real estate industry, and $10 Million grants; the “old” Kingston is struggling with ballooning rents and mortgage payments, while wishing for another IBM.

    That is the sentiment behind “Restore Kingston Pride”: Appealing to a segment within the city that feels excluded from redevelopment efforts. If they were smart, they’d appeal to all of those disenfranchised by “arts gentrification” (which includes both renter and homeowner alike), discuss the core/peripheral relationship as basis for our current “boom”, the pitfalls of relying solely on a singular development strategy, and propose viable alternatives. Unfortunately, the party seems to be adopting the typical mantra of the Red Hat Brigade (divisive statements, coupled by a bleak view of the future absent their presence, and grandiose promises should they be elected)…

    The reality is that politics and development are partners. Frankly, even if the Restore Kingston Pride party won every seat on the City Council, they would still be beholden to the same interests currently in control of the economy. In addition, $10 Million dollars and a booming real estate industry, are tangible results and any political party that would like to challenge that, would have to prove to the public that they could do a better job. That’s not political, that’s not pathos, that’s economic.

    Afterall, if I’m losing my house, I doubt I’d care if my neighbors says “Good Morning”.

  2. hokey_stuff

    This is absolutely brilliant! I bet no one else has ever thought of lowering taxes as a way to bring all of those high paying jobs back and making Kingston “a fantastic place to love” at the same time. These “Restore Kingston Pride” guys really have their act together.

    1. JamaicaonHudson@gmail.com

      Whatever was done here, I’d advise against replicating it… 8-1, with no (registered) Republicans on the City Council? Other than Woltman and O’Reilly’s respective wins, I’m wondering what happened?

  3. Aphrodite

    Fortunately, the Trump-ian Mini Me party, aka Restore Kingston Pride, did not prevail. Throughout their divisive campaigns, facts were misrepresented, biased comments were made publicly, and untruths were told about opponents. Sound familiar?

    The very existence of RKP infers that Kingstonians are not proud of their city and dismisses the rebirth we are experiencing. It’s an insult to the progress being made in bringing new life, interest, and tourism to the area.

    Kingstonians are already proud of their city. And this election showed that we certainly don’t believe – or trust –
    anyone telling us that we aren’t.

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