The original DRI concept called for the Durkee Street parking lot to “be transformed into a City Center that will become the central gathering place, a recreational access space, a space to expand seasonal Farmers’ Market to year-round, increased retail and multi-use housing – the heart of the City.”
Since then, Mayor Read and the City Council have commandeered the DRI for the benefit of a single private developer, deviating significantly from the approved plans and sacrificing the public good.
In response, a coalition of groups that support the original intent of the DRI has formed the Plattsburgh Citizens Coalition to save Plattsburgh from this looming disaster.
Our coalition includes downtown business owners, employees, commercial tenants, developers, real estate agents, accessibility advocates, walkers, bikers, patrons and residents. We intend to ensure the DRI balances public benefit and parking needs with market-appropriate development.
PCC questions why the mayor opposes the city’s own Strategic Plan for the Durkee lot, which calls for a moderate 45-unit residential development, and instead is promoting a massive, cramped 114-unit apartment project.
PCC questions why Read’s plan discards the substantial public gathering space in favor of a private development plan with a puny strip of public area wedged into an alley alongside a 50-foot high building, hardly the “city center” originally conceived.
The mayor’s proposal highlights another major issue: parking. It’s painfully clear the city had no viable parking plan before committing to give Prime the Durkee lot along with $4.3 million of City money, and still has no viable parking plan.
The city’s parking plan will turn streets into parking lots, tie up traffic, destroy the quaint downtown experience, drastically increase dangers to pedestrians and cyclists, and result in a loss of current outdoor restaurant dining spaces.
Instead of turning over $4.3 million to a private developer, the mayor could have put that money to use to fulfill the key tenet of providing a “one-to-one replacement of the existing parking spaces into a new structured lot.”
In effect, the mayor’s big idea is to replace off-street parking with on-street parking. As downtown businesses are keenly aware, that won't work.
Businesses rely on the availability of short-term parking in close proximity. The city’s concept of selling permits essentially allows the masses to ignore the short-term parking regulations and to occupy on street spaces all day long.
The city’s own Parking Study forewarned that “businesses will lose confidence if you don’t provide adequate parking.” And that is exactly what has happened.
The city’s “solutions” have consisted of a jumble of unsound, even ridiculous proposals for ill-designed and often inaccurate numbers of alleged new parking spaces.
One example: The city proposed, but quickly abandoned, a plan for angled parking on Bridge Street, which the state’s regional traffic engineer called “dangerous.”
The next non-starter was angled parking on Oak Street that would have reduced the heavily used corridor to one lane. That’s been followed by all varieties of haphazard, unsafe schemes of angled and perpendicular parking on streets, a plan to convert Court Street into a parking lot, removing sidewalks, violating city codes and increasing traffic and pedestrian hazards.
Concentrated parking, as called for in the Parking Study, would allow the rest of the area to breathe. Instead, to compensate for a gargantuan apartment project, the mayor is clumsily ridding downtown of sidewalks and bike lanes, increasing hazards, decreasing automobile flow and creating a traffic nightmare.
We question why the mayor orchestrated the half-million-dollar purchase of the asbestos-laden Glens Falls National Bank branch on Margaret Street while being compensated $50,000 annually plus over $400,000 in stock since 2010, as a director of the corporation that owns GFN bank.
Shady that the mayor failed to disclose that fact.
This and other conflicts may help explain why City Hall is discarding community adopted plans and placing private gain over public good.
The PCC is committed to protecting the community interests over private interests. Or as we like to say, putting the Community back in Community Development.
We invite all to join us.
Scott Allen, Kevin Farrington, Christina Nori, Amanda Paige-Miller