Thursday, March 20, 2008


TRANSART is a not-for-profit group that is pursuing the property on Henry Street for their location of an African-American Culture Centre. This past Wednesday, Greer Smith, representative for the group, showed up for the Finance Committee, only to find the needed documents and tax issues had not been satisfied by the current owner.

Jennifer Schwartz still owns the building and cannot hand over title until the council receives and accepts the PILOT agreement from the TRANSART group. That is negotiated between them and the Mayor. Sottile is out of the area until next week.

The Committee offered the group an additional 60 days extension to wrap up the remaining details, but with patience waning, this will be the last reprieve for the parties to settle.

The council has seen little progress with the property since the current owner has had it in her possession. We were looking for signs that there was structural investment and weatherproofing in the two years since Jennifer has been the caretaker of this Historic Designated property.

The Mayor’s task force still mows the grass and I collect the strewn debris along the front and side.

So, time will tell. Will Jennifer get the taxes paid in full? Will the PILOT meet the council’s needs? Will TRANSART finally walk away when they’ve tired of the empty promises? Maybe we should give them the Everet Hodge Center.

What do you think??


Anonymous said...

Well, I sure hope noone smokes within 50 feet of this structure. Seems to me there is a great deal of SMOKE SHOVELING going on about many of the issues in the city.

Please leave the Hodge Center alone. The city seems to suffer from the Anti -Midas touch syndrome when it comes to taking on projects lately...smitty

Anonymous said...

If someone smokes near this building, it will go POOF! very quickly.

I expect the Council will end up owning the building once again.
Suggestion: Repeal the historic landmark legislation and let the market take its course.

There is room for a fresh single family home to be built on this property. When the TRANS group is done dealing with Schwartz and the crying act, AnnMarie will have her day.

No need to stalk the Hodge Center.

Anonymous said...

One thing you can generally count on when it comes to Mike Madsen. He will periodically be out and about raking and picking up garbage.

Maybe Mike you might want to hang up your hat as an Alderman and see if there are any job openings at the DPW next year.

Mike Madsen said...

It's funny you point that out. I only wish more people felt as I do about putting in that extra effort in neighborhood upgrade. Legislation do eesnt solve verything and usually costs additional funds and diverts employee time from their regular jobs.

I sometimes think volunteerism is dead!
Well, in Kingston anyway.

Thanks for noticing.

Peter Mack said...

I had the opportunity to tour this building before Jennifer Schwartz-Berky became the owner. The building is a complete wreck and a shell of its former charming existence. 50+ years of abandonent, neglect, and exposure to Mother Nature have taken its toll upon this house.

Having restored a Victorian home vacant for over 20 years, it is always a good thing to see a piece of history restored to its former glory--a window into the past which can be appreciated by present and future generations.

However, common sense must prevail. The amount of money and funding needed to restore and undo 50 years of neglect, coupled with stringent restoration guidelines make this project cost prohibitive. It is like trying to restore the Titanic to its original state.

I hope TRANSART will place its museum in Midtown, as it would be a welcome addition to our community. There are plenty of other historic homes and buildings in far better shape that will not deplete their coffers or need so many grants and funding to complete.

Another thought...How about the City of Kingston giving TRANSART the land upon which to build something new? This would certainly be cheaper and easier.

I hope this example, like the old post office, will serve as example to our city leaders that we need to embrace our history by protecting and preserving our architecture. Kingston is full of historical homes and buildings which give it the character and charm of a colonial city. This unique character and history is the key to the future and marketability of the city. If you don't believe me, just look at how well Rhinebeck and Red Hook are prospering. Look at how many New York City weekenders own homes in a city which is not readily accessible as towns and cities in Dutches County.

I close with a quote by Henry Glassie...

"History is not the past, but a map of the past drawn from a particular point of view to be useful to the modern traveler."

Anonymous said...

Our pride in Kingston history is strong, but the general direction of our local economy and our ability to pay our taxes over shadows the issues that more fortunate people may focus on.

The City of Kingston is struggling financially. This building is already lost and will be a huge drain on transart. They should get a fresh plot of land somewhere. But to suggest the city give some land to a not-for-profit in midtown?

What property does the City have that it can afford to throw off the taxrolls?

I just wish this building haddnt been let to rot by the last three owners. We would all be better off with it restored and thriviung in some way. Thanks JS

Anonymous said...

Some great county planner Jennifer Schwartz is. She can't even get her own house - in ruins - out of our lives.

Anonymous said...

This place looks like more of a hazard than the Kings Inn. Howabout taking this over by imminent domain, tearing it down, and letting Transart (for a land purchase fee) rebuild something there that might reflect the future, versus the past, for a change?