March Gallagher, deputy economic development director for Ulster County and a representative on the Hudson Valley Regional Council, repeated perhaps the most oft-repeated truism in recent county history — tourism has been identified as an important cluster. Furthermore, she said state grants were available — with applications due mid-October — with a preference given to projects that create jobs and demonstrate a “multiplier” effect. Shope responded, “We need to get on the bandwagon in the next few days.
RONDOUT WAS once a transit hub where ferries, dayliners and railroads converged, so the discussion next focused on transportation. Huntley Gill of New York-based Guardia Architects, who has designed a new fence and gateway for the Trolley Museum (he maintains an office at the Cornell Steamship Building), said one way to spur development was to “turn our waterfront around,” by, for example, developing ferry service, which would convey people arriving via Amtrak at Rhinecliff or via Metro-North at Poughkeepsie across the river to Kingston.
“I was told a mid-Hudson ferry was a bad idea,” responded Shope.
City of Kingston economic development director Steve Finkle said the city had completed a comprehensive ferry feasibility study, which looked at everything from the cost to parking to designing a dock at Kingston Point. “The ferry could work if you could find the money,” Finkle said, noting that every existing ferry service is subsidized.
Shope said he thought it was best to consolidate services at the city and museum docks and asked whether a dock at Kingston Point made sense. Finkle said the deep water of the Hudson was one advantage of the location; plus, people could board the trolley for the trip to downtown. (Indeed, Loeding, who has long experience piloting tugboats and other craft, said some boats are too big to get into the creek.)
Geoffrey Miller, chair of the Reher Bakery Building Restoration Project at the Jewish Federation of Ulster County, which lower Broadway bakery, said he was interested in developing the historic transportation options. He said those certainly would include Kingston Point, where the enormous passenger steamboats from up and down river once arrived.
Gallagher said her concern was bringing people, such as the boaters who currently dock at the city marina, to Uptown, which obviously requires other transportation options. Jeff Anzevino, director of land-use advocacy at Scenic Hudson, and Gregg Swanzey, chair of the Rail Trail Committee of the Kingston Land Trust, both talked about the project to restore the abandoned rail trail between Rondout and Midtown to accommodate walkers, bikers, and even people in wheelchairs (since the grade is only three percent, compared to 8 percent up Broadway, according to Swanzey). The traffic-free trail would be a safer alternative to Broadway for kids and teenagers, such as the Kingston High School students who are members of the rowing team and regularly jog to the waterfront.
Swansea added that the rail trail, which ends at Kingston Hospital, could also serve the doctors and nurses, most of which don’t live in the city. If they had this amenity, they might bike down here,” he said — and ultimately decide to live here as well.
Anzevino noted that Kingston’s Complete Streets program, which seeks to make the city streets more bike and pedestrian friendly, fits right in with the rail trail initiative.
Col. Chandler Drive, which connects Broadway with the traffic circle near the Thruway, could also be put on a “road diet,” he said, the four lanes reduced to two for traffic with bike lanes on either side. Such a change would give Kingston a “beautiful gateway” that would nicely balance the approach by water in the Rondout, he said.
PUBLIC TRANSIT could be greatly improved, noted Kingston Main Street Manager Nancy Donskoj, who is employed by the Business Alliance of Kingston. She said that the city’s bus routes and schedules needed to be expanded and enhanced, for more frequent, convenient service. Bus maps need to be made more available. Gill said that if he could take a city bus from the Adirondack Trailways station Uptown down to the Rondout, on his trips from New York City, “I’d leave the car at home.” (Indeed, Ulster County Planning Board Director Dennis Doyle said that the Trailways service from Kingston currently attracts 470,000 people annually, which is considered to be an optimal usage.)