Sunday, December 3, 2017

DRI Watch: LPC Meeting No. 2.5

Last Thursday night, the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) Local Planning Committee met in another working session in preparation for the second public engagement workshop scheduled for this coming Thursday, December 7. Although the public was welcome to attend the meeting and allowed a few minutes for comment at the end of the two-hour-long meeting, it was a working session, pressed home by the fact that the members of the LPC were, as usual, seated in a horseshoe with their backs to the public and no microphone was used as the chairs of the five subcommittees made their reports and other LPC members reacted to information reported.

Dan Udell was there to record the event, and his video can be viewed here. Gossips coverage will report only a few highlights--information emerging from the meeting that seems most interesting and critical.

Reporting for the waterfront subcommittee, Betsy Gramkow defined the goal of the subcommittee as "one connected waterfront," linking riverfront park and South Bay with the Furgary site and North Bay and linking both with Promenade Hill. She called to mind the 1996 Vision Plan when she spoke of the Dunn building and the contiguous property, calling for two to three complementary structures to the north.

As possible uses for the Dunn and the proposed buildings, she mentioned small shops, a year-round farmers' market, and a commercial kitchen.

Included too among the several projects mentioned were "improve and beautify the Furgary" and "move Water Street," so it would go east of the Dunn building, along the railroad tracks. The new path for Water Street is actually the path of Franklin Street, which can be seen in this detail from the 1873 Beers atlas map.

On the subject of moving Water Street, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton raised concerns about infrastructure under the street, and Steve Kearney, the project manager from Stantec, declared it a "good idea" but not a "real project" for the DRI.

Related to the discussion of the waterfront, Hamilton, reporting for the subcommittee on transportation, revealed that she had been in conversation with CSX about eliminating the at-grade railroad crossing at Broad Street when the Ferry Street bridge is restored (sometime after 2020) and creating a new at-grade crossing farther south, at the western end of the Colarusso haul road, to be used only by trucks hauling gravel on that private road and by emergency vehicles.

One of the problems with the proposal is that there are five sets of tracks at that point as opposed to just two at Broad Street, and one set is often used for parking trains. Hamilton reported that talks with CSX on this matter had stalled.

One of the more disturbing comments made during the two-hour meeting was made in the public comment period by First Ward supervisor Sarah Sterling, who reported that "people are saying" the Dunn warehouse is not salvageable and it is a "tear down." She was assured that there was nothing in the feasibility study done by Saratoga Associates in 2015 that suggested the building had to be razed and was reminded that the City had received a $500,000 Restore NY grant last year to stabilize the building. Unfortunately, although the grant was awarded in January 2017, no work has yet begun to restore the building. 

This coming Thursday, December 7, the day on which "the gloom of winter is deepest," the second public workshop in the DRI process will be held.

One of the goals of Thursday's public workshop is to review and presumably prioritize DRI projects. Last Thursday, there was a preliminary list of eleven such projects.
  1. Basilica Hudson, Phase II
  2. The Warehouse--Digifab expansion and facade improvements
  3. The Wick--exterior site improvements to increase pedestrian access
  4. River House, Phase II
  5. Public pier
  6. Reconnecting the waterfront
  7. Kaz site redevelopment
  8. Furgary, a.k.a. The Shacks
  9. Promenade Hill--redesign of entrance
  10. Community food hub
  11. Community food waste processing
There may be more preliminary projects on the list by Thursday, because a deadline for proposing projects, presumably by LPC subcommittees, was set for tomorrow, Monday, December 4. There was also talk of a "project request form," which members of the public can use to submit project ideas for consideration. The deadline for submitting project ideas using the "project request form" was said to be January 3, but the form has not yet been reviewed and revised by the LPC and is not yet available on the DRI website or anywhere else. Kearney told the LPC, however, that the "consultant team" has begun vetting the eleven projects on the preliminary list. The criteria for proposed projects to become "real projects" appears to be their potential to leverage other public and private funding and to be completed within two years. 

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what people were terming the Dunn Warehouse a "tear-down."