Opposition grows to Irish Cultural Center over parking

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Rough superimposed rendering of how the
center would look

KINGSTON – A handful of neighbors have banded together and hired an attorney to present a united front against the proposed Irish Cultural Center of the Hudson Valley. The ICC project is currently being reviewed by the City of Kingston Planning Board.
During a public comment session at a site plan review this week, residents of downtown Abeel Street complained that the proposed structure would negatively impact parking and traffic in the area, along with increased noise and light pollution. They also expressed concern about storm water runoff.
Rhinebeck attorney Warren Replansky, representing the neighbors, rattled off a lengthy synopsis from a six-page letter prepared by J. Theodore Fink, a planning and environmental review expert. The letter picks apart numerous aspects of the ICC proposal, highlighting the lack of professional impact studies, especially for traffic.
“Most of what’s been submitted are the conclusory statements of Mr. [Ron] Pordy, the attorney for the applicant,” Replansky argued. “Most of his assertions regarding parking and traffic are conclusory statements essentially of a lay witness.  There is no expert analysis contained in the submissions thus far with regard to parking, with regard to traffic, with regard to visual impacts, with regard to community character, with regard to the impact of the LWRP.”
Pordy took umbrage at the tone of the speakers.
“I have never been involved in a project where the applicant has spoken so little, and the objecting neighbors have spoken so much, taking things out of context, distorting facts,” he noted. “They’re talking about thresholds and hurdles that they’re putting in front of us, that don’t exist under the law,” Pordy said, calling the situation outrageous and very unusual.  “I will reiterate the frustration of sitting here and really watching a public hearing being conducted, before we’ve even had an opportunity to submit papers and go through them in an appropriate fashion.”
“People have to know that there won’t be a lot of parking in a municipal environment,” countered local businessman Kevin Ginty, an ICC supporter. He indicated that most downtown restaurants have NONE off-street parking, and that often good neighbors allow their establishments to share overflow capacity. “If need be, you bus people in.”
A site visit is scheduled for July 20, which will constitute a technical quorum of the planning board, but any conversations had with the applicant will be conducted on adjacent sidewalk so the public can listen without trespassing on the property. A tentative environmental assessment presentation is earmarked for early August, most probably August 3 pending confirmation by officials.