Pub­lic hear­ing on Alms House sched­uled

RUPCO pro­poses 66 hous­ing units for se­niors, home­less

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

City plan­ners have set a pub­lic hear­ing next month on a pro­posal to cre­ate hous­ing for se­nior cit­i­zens and the home­less in the for­mer Alms House build­ing and a planned new sec­ond build­ing at 300 Flat­bush Ave.

The hear­ing will be at the Plan­ning Board’s Feb. 28 meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 420 Broad­way.

At a pub­lic com­ment period dur­ing Mon­day’s meeting of the Kingston Plan­ning Board, sev­eral peo­ple ob­ject to a pro­posal for 34 apart­ments in the 19th cen­tury Alms House build­ing, which most re­cently housed Ul­ster County of­fices, and 32 in the pro­posed new struc­ture.

“I know the sewer sys­tem on Flat­bush is at its ca­pac­ity,” said Fred Hepp­ner, a for­mer city sewer fore­man.

“If you add any­thing else on that sewer sys­tem, we’re go­ing to have trou­ble,” he said. “Who is go­ing to ab­sorb that cost when you have to re­place that sewer?”

Of­fi­cials of RUPCO, the hous­ing agency that pro­poses the new use for the for­mer Ul­ster County build­ing, said a re­view of the waste­water needs for the project found that the city sys­tem could han­dle the an­tic­i­pated 3,000 to 4,000 gal­lons per day sent into the sewer lines.

Com­mon Coun­cil Mi­nor­ity Leader Deb­o­rah Brown, D-Ward 9, read a let­ter from city res­i­dent Keith Phillips ob­ject­ing to the project.

“Ev­ery­one ex­pects their taxes to go up a lit­tle each year, but what the res­i­dents of the city of Kingston do not ex­pect (is) to be con­tin­u­ously shoul­der­ing the bur­den of low-in­come hous­ing,” she read. “A ma­jor­ity of the res­i­dents here are not wealthy. Where do you think we can get all this money from to pay for these hous­ing projects?”

RUPCO is seek­ing ap­proval from the Plan­ning Board to ren­o­vate the ex­ist­ing build­ing and to build a four-story, 40,000-square­foot ad­di­tional build­ing.

The non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion is also seek­ing a zon­ing change for the prop­erty, from the cur­rent, sin­gle-fam­ily res­i­den­tial des­ig­na­tion to mul­ti­fam­ily res­i­den­tial use.

If RUPCO re­ceives ap­proval for the plan, it would buy the Alms House build­ing from the Ul­ster County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Al­liance for $950,000.

City res­i­dent Cas­san­dra Burke spoke in fa­vor of the project, say­ing the need has been demon­strated through stud­ies.

“Ac­cord­ing to the Home­less Shel­ters and Home­less­ness in New York state re­port is­sued by the Comptroller’s Of­fice, in 2016 Ul­ster County ser­viced a to­tal of 1,178 peo­ple through a com­bi­na­tion of emer­gency shel­ters, tran­si­tional hous­ing and (other) ser­vices,” she said.

Burke said the re­port “sug­gests that there are a large num­ber of fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als who face a hous­ing cri­sis and fi­nan­cial in­sta­bil­ity.”

Burke added that the prop­erty would be re­turned to the tax rolls, and that RUPCO has pro­posed to have the site pro­vide mental health and sub­stance abuse ser­vices at the site.

The Alms House was the first struc­ture the city built after it in­cor­po­rated, ac­cord­ing to city His­toric Land­marks Preser­va­tion Com­mis­sion Chair­man Ge­orge Don­skoj. It first was used as an in­fir­mary for poor peo­ple and then as a hospi­tal.

Most re­cently, the struc­ture was used for Ul­ster County of­fices.

TA­NIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

The for­mer Alms House build­ing at 300 Flat­bush Ave.

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