Spotlight on Kerhonkson - BlueStone Press
September 19, 2018
Kerhonkson

Spotlight on Kerhonkson

A community forum

Posted

At 6 p.m. on April 18, an audience of between 75 and 100 local residents filled the Kerhonkson firehouse for a community forum called “Revitalization Opportunities for the Hamlet of Kerhonkson.” They listened, asked questions, and finally got up to share their thoughts, enthusiasms, objections and ideas with the organizers and with each other.

Ulster County Planning Department director Dennis Doyle gave a short introduction.

“In this area you have a cluster of properties that are vacant or under-utilized,” he said. “That’s what we want to talk to you about tonight.”

Rochester supervisor Mike Baden, who is also on the county’s planning board, explained that the county had picked five areas to concentrate on, based on such factors as unemployment figures, and he had lobbied for Kerhonkson to be one of them.

“We want to hear from you,” he said. “What is Kerhonkson? What did it used to be, what do we want it to be, and how do we get there? Tonight is a listening session for us to hear from you, the residents.” He briefly thanked Terry Houck, supervisor of Wawarsing, who is also involved in the project, Kerhonkson being split between the two townships of Rochester and Wawarsing.

Matt Robbie, also from the county planning department, followed with a slide presentation about the findings of his consulting team’s two-year study. “I want to share with you the information we’ve been able to gather and identify about potential opportunities for revitalization in the hamlet of Kerhonkson,” he said, and showed a series of maps illustrating different features the team has concentrated on. His first map showed an area about 2.5 miles long from where Route 44/55 meets Route 209 and stretching north along 209, with specific areas outlined in red. These were “vacant commercial-industrial properties, for-sale properties, inactive and maybe abandoned properties” the team had picked out as potential places for either commercial or recreational redevelopment, working with committees of residents from Wawarsing and Rochester.

One problem particular to Kerhonkson is exemplified by Carlo Drive along the Rondout Creek, an area identified on Robbie’s map as ripe for improvement but prone to flooding. Doyle suggested that any buildings there would have to be elevated 3 feet above the ground, because “they’re in a 100-year flood plain.” The flood insurance for such buildings has risen astronomically, said Doyle, since federal flood-insurance subsidies “are going away or have gone away.”

“We’ve done buyouts” with money from FEMA for some Carlo Drive houses, he said. Disaster recovery money is also sometimes available for elevating buildings; he pointed to Shandaken as a community that has gotten some of that funding.

Improvements can only happen if there is money, of course, and the county officials are aware of many different grant programs, for example “special transportation grants” which have sponsored the Rail Trail and bike lanes in Kingston. However, Doyle said, government aid is limited. “Government shines the spotlight,” he said. “The real work gets done by the private sector.”

Once the floor was opened up for questions, it was clear that people had plenty of ideas and opinions. Better access to the Rondout Creek for boating was a wish heard from several individuals, and other suggestions for increasing tourism. Could the rail trail be extended to meet the Shawangunk trails? Could “gateway areas” be created, welcoming tourists into Kerhonkson from the north and south ends of town? Could there be restaurants along the waterfront? Trees planted along 209? Could some of the old buildings be preserved and used commercially? How about a farmers market?

People also had concerns, especially about gentrification. Someone asked if taxes would go up if property values go up, a common fear. Another point: if businesses are given tax breaks, then would the rest of the taxpayers have to pay more? There are two sides to the coin, of course. “A tremendous amount of wealth has moved into the town of Rochester,” remarked Doyle. He suggested that wealthy property owners might be a source of investment money for revitalization efforts.

The second half of the meeting was devoted to group discussion. The planners had set up three tables with a county planning department staffer at each one, and people were encouraged to congregate at these. However, knots of people formed spontaneously all over the room, and it was soon abuzz with many conversations. Clearly, the meeting was intended to get people talking. By that measure it was a resounding success.

For more information on the Kerhonkson Revitalization Opportunities project, contact Michael Baden, supervisor, Town of Rochester,

mbaden@townofrochester.gov; Terry Houck, supervisor, Town of Wawarsing, wawsupervisor@hvc.rr.com.

 

 

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Sasha

“A tremendous amount of wealth has moved into the town of Rochester,” remarked Doyle.

He suggested that wealthy property owners might be a source of investment money for revitalization efforts.

NOPE. The "wealth" you so effortlessly tout IS ALREADY PAYING FAR MORE INTO THE LOCAL TAX ECONOMY TODAY!!! In fact, the 1/3 of the local population

whom own homes here that you consider "wealthy" actually pay more than 60% of the local taxes. SO NO, YOU ARE NOT DOUBLE-DIPPING!!! NOT HAPPENING.

IF you do, you WILL see that majority of the local tax revenue sell off and head out. Perhaps, instead, the "non-wealthy" (not sure how you personally choose

to categorize that) make the EFFORT to clean up their property, get rid of abandoned property, junk cars, and upgrade their property so the REST of us don't

suffer the blight that the Town of Rochester and Kerhonkson seem so happy to ignore.

The folks you consider "wealthy" actually invest huge amounts of personal income into hiring local jobs, hiring local services, and upgrading our homes and

property out of respect for the community.

Please, don't be lazy, we are NOT a piggy bank for you to nickle and dime. We are NOT going to be "double-taxed". We've started the majority of new business

in this community, hiring with new jobs many local people, meanwhile we don't put kids in the schools and we don't utilize many of the services we are paying for.

CERTAINLY YOU KNOW THIS.

Now, WE actually expect EVERYONE TO CLEAN UP THEIR PROPERTY AND PARTICIPATE IN BEAUTIFYING THIS COMMUNITY.

THAT IS WHAT WILL BRING IN MORE NEW BUSINESS and INVESTMENT.

WE expect the town to actually uphold its zoning and noise laws and maybe shut down the raceway - you can literally see the blight the raceway has created;

there are many properties abutting the raceway that can't be sold and now sit abandoned draining money from the tax coffers. That's a FAILURE BY THE TOWN

AND ITS PLANNING BOARD. THAT'S OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT NOT HOMEOWENRS.

WE expect industrial uses, like porta-johns, saw mills, and heavy truck operators to be held accountable and maybe the TOWN can step in and have those

once-upon a time business relocated to the 209 Commercial Corridor - NOT in our residential neighborhoods.

TOWN OF ROCHESTER-KERHONKSON HOLD THE BAG ON THE FAILURE TO MAINTAIN PROPERTIES, CLEAN UP JUNK, AND HOLD ALL PROPERTY OWNERS ACCOUNTALBE - NOT JUST THE "WEALTHY".

That comment is a total joke.

Shame on you.

Monday, May 14
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