Ir­ish cen­ter reps up­beat about project’s fu­ture

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­line.com ArielAtFree­man on Twit­ter

The city Plan­ning Board is con­tin­u­ing its re­view of the pro­posed Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter while de­vel­op­ers await a de­ci­sion as to whether a zon­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion for the prop­erty at 32 Abeel St. is cor­rect.

Dur­ing a meet­ing Mon­day, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter out­lined to the Plan­ning Board the most re­cent set of changes made to the project’s en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment form, which is a doc­u­ment re­quired un­der the state En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Re­view Act. Many of those changes were the re­sult of the size of the pro­posed Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter build­ing be­ing re­duced from 16,889 square feet to 16,213 square feet.

The cen­ter would be a three-story build­ing that in­cludes a theater on the ground floor ac­cessed from West Strand and Com­pany Hill Path. The first floor would have per­for­mance space and a “tea room,” as well as a kitchen and gallery space, while the sec­ond floor would in­clude a large class­room area, of­fices, a record­ing stu­dio and stor­age space. The roof of the build­ing would have a gar­den.

Project at­tor­ney Ron­ald Pordy said Mon­day’s meet­ing fi­nal­ized the first step of the en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view for the project. He said the Plan­ning Board, dur­ing its Dec. 12 meet­ing, will take the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the cen­ter’s de­vel­op­ers and de­ter­mine the en­vi­ron­men­tal sig­nif­i­cance of the project. Pordy said the board will use spe­cific cri­te­ria set forth by the state en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view process to make that de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Should the board, based on that in­for­ma­tion, is­sue a “pos­i­tive dec­la­ra­tion” for the project, it would trig­ger the re­quire­ment that a draft en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment be cre­ated. The en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment would fur­ther an­a­lyze the pro­posed project, in­clud­ing look­ing at all the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts and pos­si­ble ways to re­duce or avoid any harm­ful im­pacts.

“We are con­fi­dent we are well un­der the thresh­olds for a ‘pos dec,’” Pordy said after Mon­day’s meet­ing. He added, though, it would be up to the Plan­ning Board to make that de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Sev­eral neigh­bors and in­ter­ested in­di­vid­u­als have urged the Plan­ning Board to is­sue a pos­i­tive dec­la­ra­tion for the project, cit­ing con­cerns about park­ing in the area and the size of the pro­posed build­ing, among other is­sues.

Pordy said that, while the Plan­ning Board is con­tin­u­ing its re­view, de­vel­op­ers are await­ing a de­ci­sion from the city Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals re­gard­ing whether the project is an al­lowed use in that area of the Ron­d­out.

The Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals was to meet Tues­day evening, too late for its ac­tion to be in­cluded in this re­port.

“Hope­fully we’ll pre­vail on that and be able to move for­ward,” Pordy said. He noted, though, that there could still be ap­peals to the zon­ing de­ci­sion, which would start an Ar­ti­cle 78 pro­ce­dure in state Supreme Court.

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