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Kingston Common Council to vote on demolishing Pike Plan roof in August – Daily Freeman

The Pike Plan in Uptown Kingston, NY, can be seen on April 2, 2024 (Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

KINGSTON, NY – The city’s Common Council will vote in August on a $1 million plan to demolish Pike Plan’s canopies at Wall and North Front streets in Uptown after the plan cleared the council’s rules and regulations committee on a 4-1 vote Wednesday. July 10.

The only no vote was Michael Tierney, D-Ward 2, whose ward represents the Uptown Business District. The consultation meeting in August is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6 at 19.30 in the chambers in City Hall.

Mayor Steve Noble went before the council to ask for $1 million for the demolition project. Completely replacing the structures some have suggested could cost up to $10 million, up from an estimated $8 million in 2020, Noble added. The funding will include removal of the structures, which are at the end of their useful lives, repairs to building facades where the Pike Plan was attached and new lighting that will better illuminate sidewalks and storefronts, the mayor said.

The Pike Plan is the system of interconnected canopies over sidewalks on Wall and North Front streets that has been a fixture of Uptown for decades. The canopies, designed by Woodstock artist John Pike, were built in the early 1970s and underwent a two-year renovation starting in 2011. They were found to be in poor condition in December 2015 due to poor workmanship.

In a brief presentation to the Laws and Regulations Committee, Noble said if lawmakers vote in favor of demolition, the city could select a contractor in October with demolition beginning in early January. He expects the demolition work to take anywhere from two to six weeks, but it could be shorter or longer. Noble added that January was chosen to begin the project to avoid disruption to businesses during the holiday season.

“There will be disruptions, but this will minimize them,” he said.

“Since I first made a joint statement with Common Council President Andrea Shaut in April, our city engineer spent three months conducting multiple inspections of the structure,” Noble added. “I now better understand the concerns and liability risks this structure poses to Kingston’s taxpayers, business owners and customers.”

He added that this severely limits the city’s options.

“We need to remove the Pike Plan as soon as possible for the well-being of all concerned,” he said. “There is no option to repair – the current structure must be completely removed due to its declining structural integrity and deteriorating condition.”

Noble recommended once the demolition is complete, the historic facades under the Pike Plan should be restored to their original form, leaving the “beautiful architecture” exposed.

Noble said studies in other parts of the country have found similar canopies detract from business districts by limiting visibility to storefronts while hindering safety.

“When the canopies were removed, merchants and customers reported a brighter town center with increased visibility to shops, greater security, increased prominence of historic architectural details and a generally more open and pleasant environment,” he said. “For these reasons, we will see higher foot traffic to our tourism-dependent shops and restaurants.”

As for some kind of historic designation for the canopies, Noble cited a 2009 letter from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation that found the Pike plan to be a “non-contributing or non-historic” feature on the National Register Stocked the Historic District and recommended demolishing the Pike plan at the time.

Soon after in the early 2010s, the city began a troubled renovation project.

After those renovations, the city filed a lawsuit against the design, engineering and construction firms involved in the project in 2015. The state Supreme Court ruled that the firms could not be held liable because the statute of limitations had expired. The city secured a $315,000 settlement in 2018.

After Noble’s discussion, proceedings moved behind closed doors for a nearly hour-long executive session before lawmakers took the vote.

Tierney rejected the decision to rush to tear down the canopies. He likened the decision to that made during the “urban renewal” of the 1960s and 1970s. He offered a comparison to the now-infamous decisions to demolish the historic post office in Midtown and the grand above-ground portion of the original Penn Station in Manhattan.

“They were perceived as old and dingy and didn’t fit the aesthetics of a modern city,” he joked.

Tierney called the canopies a piece of public art, and he noted that they will offer benefits as climate change makes the city warmer and wetter. “It was 10 degrees cooler under the canopies,” he said.

Tierney had called for the discussion to be held in public session, but that was quickly shot down with Majority Leader Reynolds Scott-Childress saying no before executive session.

No other lawmakers spoke about the plan during the public session.

Wednesday’s vote comes after Noble and Common Council President Andrea Shaut promised in April that the city would offer opportunities for public engagement including an “education session” panel with both proponents and opponents of his plan.

The sessions were not held.

Noble also called on the council to set aside up to $2 million for a citywide facade fund that provides grants to low- to moderate-income building owners across the city to revitalize their storefronts and commercial spaces. The city should support all historic buildings regardless of neighborhood and not just in Uptown, he said

Our small businesses, our vibrant arts scene, our many festivals and community events, and most of all, our people are what make Kingston unique,” ​​Noble said during his remarks. “The pike plan has served its purpose. It’s time to move on. I am determined that this route is in the best interest not only of the Uptown businesses but of the city of Kingston as a whole.”

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