The City of Kingston will spend $20,000 in consulting fees to help formulate an application for $22 million in federal transportation funding it would use to revitalize its downtown waterfront district.
During a special meeting of the Finance and Audit Committee held prior to the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, June 1, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said the transportation infrastructure grant would be ideal for the city because it seeks to connect communities using “multi-modal types of transportation.”
“We have had on the drawing board for many years to make improvements to our waterfront in downtown Kingston,” Noble said. “And we recognize through the transportation work that we’ve done that we have gaps to be able to connect people from our downtown business district out to Kingston Point and, now, beyond to the new state park that’s being created.”
Kristen Wilson, director of the city’s Office of Grants Management, said that the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant could be used toward creating disabled-accessible streetscapes along the East Strand and North Street ($13 million); extending the Trolley Trail from East Strand to Kingston Point Park, including an elevated boardwalk and shore stabilization ($6.2 million); phase 2 of the Kingston Point Rail Trail ($1.45 million); a shared use path along North Street from the intersection of North and Delaware Avenue to the Hutton Brickyard ($1.25 million); and improvements and connection at Kingston Point Park including a parking lot and field, and a multi-modal transportation connection ($750,000).
Wilson said a consultant was needed to perform the required cost-benefit analysis for the application.
Wilson added that the RAISE grant application is due on Monday, July 12, a little over two weeks before the city’s CFA grant applications are due on Friday, July 30. She added that the city last applied for a grant in a previous version of the program in 2018 and it was “extremely intensive.”
“I think I spent about a month on it, and kind of put aside a lot of my other projects when we did it,” she said. “So it does take a significant amount of time.”
According to Noble, the city’s 2018 application was well received but was not approved due to partisan funding decisions.
“When Kristen and her team applied for this grant…we received really high marks from the DOT staff, people who reviewed the city of Kingston application,” Noble said. “Unfortunately under the Trump administration, very few funds were actually funneled to the state of New York, only a few million dollars. But we think that under the new DOT leadership, our project is perfectly poised to be successful.”
The Common Council voted unanimously to approve the $20,000 consulting fee.
“I think this is an opportunity here,” said Eighth Ward Alderman Steven Schabot. “It’s going to cost us a little bit, and I guess the bottom line is there’s no guarantee that we’re going to get anything. But these are substantial amounts (of funding), and they could go a long way…We’ve been trying to get that developed down there for way before I’ve been on the council.”
Fifth Ward Alderman Don Tallerman agreed.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity,” he said. “It’s just really wonderful on so many levels.”
Sixth Ward Alderman Tony Davis said that the potential benefits far outweigh the cost of ensuring the city submits a solid RAISE application.
“If we can secure this $22 million raise grant and would be not only a benefit for the city and a benefit for that area as well in so many ways,” he said. “This is a drop in the bucket.”