Along with the waterfront development, Finkle’s success at grant writing which has won the most praise, even from his critics. Finkle said grant awards from various state and federal funding streams have brought an average of $2 million a year each year into Kingston. The grants have helped fund everything from a facelift for the city’s sewage treatment plant to the $7.5 million restoration of Kingston’s historic City Hall.
“He just knows how to navigate that maze of New York State government,” said Mayor Jim Sottile. “And he has a unique sense of how to combine one grant with another to get the biggest bang for your buck.”
The next phase
Indeed, Mayor-elect Shayne Gallo has suggested that under his administration the primary focus of the Economic Development Office will be restructured to put more emphasis on seeking and administering grants. Gallo, who praised Finkle’s skill set as “unlike any I know in the county” said that he had already interviewed some potential replacements and planned to cast a wider net by seeking candidates from beyond the county.
As he prepares to leave city government, Finkle said plenty of unfinished business remains for his successor in the effort to create an identity for 21st century Kingston. High on the list, Finkle said, was the development of a comprehensive plan for the whole city to bring in the kind of guided development and enhanced grant opportunities that have benefited the waterfront. Finkle said the next administration also needs to focus on bringing more residential development — and more parking — to Uptown Kingston while continuing the build on the improvements downtown.
“With economic development in Kingston, you need to make the best of the opportunities you may have with the existing economic base,” said Finkle. “We’re never going to get a gigantic company to move to Kingston … but that doesn’t mean we can’t move forward.”