Public hearing on Alms House scheduled
RUPCO proposes 66 housing units for seniors, homeless
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.
The former Alms House building at 300 Flatbush Ave.