KINGSTON – Residents of Kingston Wards eight and nine are circulating a petition against the proposed low-income housing project at 300 Flatbush Avenue. Concerns include water and sewer infrastructure loads, and the potential for a glut of subsidized units.
The property, once known a the Alms House, is a historic site formerly owned by Ulster County, which was transferred to the Economic Development Alliance as part of County Executive Michael Hein‘s STRIVE initiative. Last month, the EDA accepted a $950,000 offer from RUPCO to develop the site.
However, a zoning change would be needed for the RUPCO project to go forward, which has prompted several county legislators and city aldermen to second-guess the plan. County Legislator David Donaldson brought the issue to Kingston’s Common Council’s Finance and Audit Committee last week for discussion.
Mayor Steven Noble supports the concept of the project.
“We want to be able to support those who are homeless and our seniors that need to be able to find housing,” Noble said. “The lists for senior housing are extremely long in our community,” he said. But the mayor said any proposal must go through the zoning and planning board processes before they can have a shovel in the ground.”
“Once this hit the papers, the calls were non-stop,” said Mary Ann Mills, 5th Ward alderwoman. “The infrastructure for the Alms House feeds down Flatbush Avenue. The city is going to have to fix that sewer and water flow, before they can even think of putting anything there,” she said.
Citing affordability studies, Mills added, “We don‘t need to create units of low-income housing, we need to step it up. If we continue to create low-income housing, that‘s exactly what we will have, everywhere.”
“It’s a done deal if you change the zoning,” Donaldson indicated to the committee, regarding RUPCO‘s low-income housing proposal. “The only way a zoning change can be made in the City of Kingston is you [the city council],” he said.
Donaldson called the property “a gateway to the city, “Donaldson said, noting that two other offers have come in after RUPCO, both slightly higher; one for a hotel and restaurant, the other unspecified use. Further info is pending, he said.