Beacon Needs More Parks
It's a long way from Main Street to Memorial Park.
I confess I’ve had a dream for some time that we could have more green space along Main Street and the downtown of Beacon. That’s one of the reasons I joined the Main Street Access Committee (also known as the Main Street initiative) over a year ago.
It’s a well-known fact in urban planning that pedestrians do not find areas with front-facing parking lots attractive or welcoming. We should aspire to transition as many of these as possible to green spaces or buildings.
I am happy to hear that the redevelopment proposed for the corner of Cross Street and Main Street — which has the mural of Mother Hudson River beaming down on it — would retain the green space there, at least in part.
However, there are a number of parking lots directly on Main Street that could be — should be? — repurposed to provide green space. For the moment, I shelve all discussion of park amenities — plants, benches, tables, fountains, public toilets — which are critical, but not in scope today. Likewise, I make no real attempt to attack the cost considerations. Let’s lay out the dream first, and then set up the scaffolding to make it real, secondly.
I also avoid the necessary discussion about removing parking in order to gain the benefits of parks. Tabled for this post.
Beacon County Building (The DMV)
There is a verge between the enormous parking lot on the corner of South Elm and Main Street that serves as a tiny green space. But imagine if the Main St verge was enlarged, and the (really badly designed) entrance to the parking lot was closed off. We could have a really large green space at the corner of Elm.
There have been many treatments of this concept in the past ten years, but nothing concrete has emerged.
Note that the land is owned by Dutchess County, at present, and the County might be strongly in favor of such a development, so long as parking spaces could be made up by redesigning the remainder of the lot, which should be possible: it’s not well-designed, to say the least.
Also note: this is the site of the Beacon Farm Market on Sundays, so the park would be a great adjunct to that.
Key Food Parking Lot
I believe that the tiny green space in front of Key Food has been largely a failure. Perhaps because it isn’t very green, just a stand of trees in bark mulch. Perhaps it could be redesigned to incorporate some of the sidewalk and more of the parking lot and be made actually green, with grass, plants, etc.
Cafe Amarcord Parking Lot
Another parking lot directly facing Main Street runs from Cafe Amarcord (276 Main Street) to the Edward Jones offices (284 Main Street). Imagine if the parking area immediately adjacent to Main was opened up as a park area. Amarcord could retain (and perhaps expand) its dining area as part of a deal with the City.
I have included the area up to Church Street to point out that the lot there extends along that stand of trees all the way to Church, which is largely unused today.
Beacon Central Park
There is a potential hidden gem in plain sight in downtown Beacon. The area between North Cedar, Church Street, and North Chestnut, across from the Rite-Aid parking lot. This area is slightly less than half the block, and the siting is complex.
Along North Cedar, the land is owned by Cervone Auto Repair. The property has been on the market several times in recent years; current status unknown. Along North Chestnut, the corner property is an undeveloped lot. Sandwiched in between there are a long narrow driveway and parking area for a residential building on Main Street. (A new L-shaped driveway could be configured to North Cedar, to retain access.)
This mix of properties could be pulled together into a medium-sized park, on a scale that is hard to imagine anywhere else in the area.
It would take considerable funding to pull this park into being, even considering eminent domain, but if either one of the two corner lots were to be turned into a new apartment building, the option for a park here could be lost forever.
I will return to green spaces in subsequent posts, especially on the East End of Beacon.
Kaya Laterman, in What Happens When Your Waiter Can’t Afford Rent, deep dives into the housing crisis in Ulster county arising from high demand due to the influx of people moving to the area and little to no new affordable housing being created:
Throughout Ulster County, community meetings are filled with locals calling for a fix. After months of debate, the Town of Woodstock this week approved a nine-month moratorium on the creation of new lodging, including short-term rentals, which pits a neighbor trying to earn extra money against others being priced out of the community.
“Housing is the No. 1 issue,” said Mr. Ryan, adding that he and other officials are trying to fast-track affordable housing programs. The Kingston City Land Bank has been fixing up long-vacant housing, there are plans to transform an empty county jail into units for seniors and others, and a tiny-home initiative is also underway. Zoning codes are being reviewed in many towns and villages, and Mr. Ryan said there was a push for quick authorization to build accessory dwelling units, like small cottages or basement apartments.
All of these issues are taking place in Beacon and other communities in the area. Strangely, Laterman does not mention the bill recently advanced in the NY legislature (now in the Judiciary Committee), that would legalize Accessory Dwelling Units across the state. I wrote about this in How To Keep Beacon Real Estate Affordable, the other day.