In announcing plans to realign a dangerous Broadway intersection early this month, Kingston mayor Steve Noble made reference to “the historic nature of this property,” site of the central post office demolished in 1970. “Built in 1908, the post office was an architectural marvel,” wrote Noble. “Its subsequent demolition to make way for a fast-food restaurant continues to haunt the city known for its historic character. The property most recently housed a Planet Wings.”
The mayor urged the acquisition of the property for public use and an effort “to design the space in a way that honors this lost historic gem.”
Common council majority leader Reynolds Scott-Childress backed the mayor’s proposal, saying reconfiguration of the complex and difficult intersection was crucial to improving the safety of Midtown drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. In his email, Noble said 29 crashes were reported at the intersection over the past five years, including seven in which injuries were reported
Scott-Childress also said the neighborhood needed more green space, and that “the small park there will be an extra boon to area residents.”
Kingstonians old enough to have fond memories of the old post office torn down a half-century ago overwhelmingly favor a symbolic tribute to it in the small park that will be created there. But some in the younger generations don’t share the nostalgic feeling for a landmark whose grandeur they never directly experienced. The feeling is apparently especially strong in Midtown’s artistic community, in which there’s strong dissent to practically anything that smacks of establishment thinking.
It’s not as though they didn’t like the old post office, but “Everybody has a right to their own memories,” one of the dissident Midtown artists declared.
“The old post office is so yesterday,” opined another middle-aged artist who declined to give his name because “I don’t want the Code Enforcement Nazis bursting into my studio.”
This artist, whose several years of washing dishes in Kingston’s trendier eateries has given him a taste for culinary judgments, has fond memories of patronizing Planet Wings for breakfast practically every early afternoon. “It had killer hot sauce,” he said. “I used to call it The Poor Man’s Sriracha. Better than Texas Pete.”
He and his friends considered several alternative fast-food incarnations for commemoration, he said. The Jack in the Box got little support, the ice-cream joint none. Dunkin’ Donuts was criticized for letting its 2017 plan to take over the site fell through.
Finally, the group commissioned Patrick Pellicano to do a rough sketch of what they had in mind for a commemoration.
The mayor was unavailable for immediate comment.