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Will the TOD help or harm Main Street Beacon?

Dear Main Street business owners and all,

Please note that this message is intended to only address Main Street business issues. I understand that there are many aspects to the broader TOD and development discussion which will be addressed in other messages.

There was one business owner at the public hearing on September 8th that made a comment that deserves a follow-up. His point was that Main Street will be harmed by the TOD. Actually he said the city was selling-out Main Street. I do not know if that view is wide spread among the business community so I wish to develop the argument and explain why I believe the TOD will be a benefit to Main Street.

We are working hard to make a good zoning law that will contain non-competitive language for Main Street businesses. At this point it will limit business to water and TOD related types and limit their individual size. Agreed, if successful this will not completely remove competitive businesses but it will help to keep them to a minimum.

More importantly I believe the majority of businesses on Main Street are not just struggling now, but have been even before the economic downturn. Beacon has never had a large enough customer base for our shops to thrive. I’ve seen good business go out and know that some are holding on out of sheer hope and belief in their community. This is a challenge I take to heart. I strongly believe the development planned in Beacon including the TOD will HELP, not harm our Main Street businesses. Help will come in the form of the approximate 20% population growth this development will represent. Approximately 1,500 new units give the businesses on Main Street more than 3,000 new potential customers. That simply has to help. It was one of the reasons I supported the conclusions of the Comprehensive Plan.

But let’s just look at the TOD zone and assume that no other development will take place. That’s 600 units or 1,200 more customers for Main Street. Yes there will be a commercial and retail component but I completely reject the idea that customers who now shop/dine on Main Street will be sucked down to the TOD (forever) and stop going to their favorite places on Main. And I completely reject the notion that the TOD residents will only stay in their zone afraid to venture out. That too will not happen. I firmly believe the 1,200 new residents will browse Main Street, find their favorite shops, galleries and restaurants. They will be attracted to Main Street and adopt Beacon the way we all have. Maybe they will walk; maybe they will drive to Main Street like most of the city. Hopefully we will find a way to get a subsidized shuttle as soon as possible or perhaps there will be enough ridership for it to be privately operated.

Lastly, if the TOD is designed well it may also bring new people into Beacon to see it. It may add to our general tourism appeal. It may help to get DIA visitors out of the museum and give them incentive to walk up Main Street by starting at the TOD. It may provide the finances to make a shuttle bus feasible. It may do none of those things but the fact of the matter is that the TOD zone alone will provide Beacon’s Main Street with a potential of 1,200 more potential customers. When combined with the other developments the total of 3,000 customers is the single fact that Main Street businesses should be looking forward to taking place.

Thank you,
Steve Gold
mayor@cityofbeacon.org

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In addition we would like to suggest to transform the "city hall island" into a rotary/ round-about system with inflowing traffic coming from Route 9D towards the train station and outflowing traffic passing by DIA towards route 9D.
Rotary's - although they won't diminish the traffic - will allow a flow of traffic and will not increase "stop-and-go" phases as traffic lights do.

We would strongly urge not to build any buildings next to the river.

Regarding waterfront development, would a pier/marina be a possible idea? We know that that is one of the main attractions in a town on Long Island's north shore.

It was also mentioned that 45% of the Beacon train station users go north/ leave Beacon - leading us to believe that they are not Beacon citizens - would creating a toll be of help for the city? And if the people show proof that they spent the equal amount to the toll in Beacon's businesses the toll can be waived.
There are all kinds of contemporary architecture. There is contemporary architecture that uses warm natural materials and contemporary architecture that fits well with historical buildings. There are waterfront developments the world over that pay homage to their dockside past without being cold or antiseptic or "ultra-modern" but in fact are contemporary in terms of the architecture of the space and use of materials. Contemporary architecture may focus on bringing in much natural light and using green building methods. And yes, contemporary architecture may experiment with new shapes and different forms. Good architecture the world over has done exactly that for all time.

In contrast there is "developer architecture." This type of architecture tries to harken back to a nebulous place and time that may never have even existed, and almost always gives real historical short shrift in scale and balance of elements (our current city hall is a terrific example of this). It is most often a pastiche of pointless ornamentation and cosmetic roof lines that continue to be the current vogue in many of our newer shopping centers. This is known as "Disneyfication" and was actually covered very well in a book about Disney theme park design called "The Architecture of Reassurance" which went into great detail about how the Main Street U.S.A. theming of buildings in the parks has been co-opted by retail and now residential developers around the country. It is almost always mere facade detail over big empty boxes.

The Howland Cultural Center was "contemporary" when it was built. Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece Falling Water at Bear Run is a wonderful example of a building that would fit beautifully on our own hills, and is yet still more contemporary than most developments built today. And that building is almost 80 years old. Somewhere along the way many have decided that if it doesn't look somewhat like what we already know and are familiar with it is somehow threatening or to be avoided. If that was always the case we'd still live in caves.

Beacon deserves good contemporary architecture that fits our landscape, respects our history and balances our small town charm with our international contemporary culture reputation. That doesn't mean it has to be one of Gehry's lasagna noodle creations (much though I personally like them and think we'd be lucky to have such design audacity) but it sure shouldn't be mistaken for the Christmas Tree Shoppes. Beacon deserves better, and can handle much more design diversity than some think. Let's leave the Ye Olde Thomas Kincaid theme village to the tiny versions that Kringles sells to put under the tree and think about all the amazing things our wonderful waterfront can become. Let's create a solution that will make our children's children proud we had a little vision and nerve, and not end up with something like Terrytown's debacle that looks like part of the Epcot World Showcase washed up on shore.
Thank you Cabot for this detailed vision - and that is what it takes - vision for the future.
Towns like Garrison, Cold Spring and Rhinebeck have achieved what they wanted to achieve - being cutesy, quaint and conservative. We should try to stand out and not copy that model. Beacon has a different look, feel and diversity. That should be reflected in it's appearance.
Cabot Parsons said:
There are all kinds of contemporary architecture. There is contemporary architecture that uses warm natural materials and contemporary architecture that fits well with historical buildings. There are waterfront developments the world over that pay homage to their dockside past without being cold or antiseptic or "ultra-modern" but in fact are contemporary in terms of the architecture of the space and use of materials. Contemporary architecture may focus on bringing in much natural light and using green building methods. And yes, contemporary architecture may experiment with new shapes and different forms. Good architecture the world over has done exactly that for all time.

In contrast there is "developer architecture." This type of architecture tries to harken back to a nebulous place and time that may never have even existed, and almost always gives real historical short shrift in scale and balance of elements (our current city hall is a terrific example of this). It is most often a pastiche of pointless ornamentation and cosmetic roof lines that continue to be the current vogue in many of our newer shopping centers. This is known as "Disneyfication" and was actually covered very well in a book about Disney theme park design called "The Architecture of Reassurance" which went into great detail about how the Main Street U.S.A. theming of buildings in the parks has been co-opted by retail and now residential developers around the country. It is almost always mere facade detail over big empty boxes.

The Howland Cultural Center was "contemporary" when it was built. Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece Falling Water at Bear Run is a wonderful example of a building that would fit beautifully on our own hills, and is yet still more contemporary than most developments built today. And that building is almost 80 years old. Somewhere along the way many have decided that if it doesn't look somewhat like what we already know and are familiar with it is somehow threatening or to be avoided. If that was always the case we'd still live in caves.

Beacon deserves good contemporary architecture that fits our landscape, respects our history and balances our small town charm with our international contemporary culture reputation. That doesn't mean it has to be one of Gehry's lasagna noodle creations (much though I personally like them and think we'd be lucky to have such design audacity) but it sure shouldn't be mistaken for the Christmas Tree Shoppes. Beacon deserves better, and can handle much more design diversity than some think. Let's leave the Ye Olde Thomas Kincaid theme village to the tiny versions that Kringles sells to put under the tree and think about all the amazing things our wonderful waterfront can become. Let's create a solution that will make our children's children proud we had a little vision and nerve, and not end up with something like Terrytown's debacle that looks like part of the Epcot World Showcase washed up on shore.
Then check out "Old Hawthorne" in Columbia, MO, an entire subdivision based on Kinkade's (sorry for the earlier misspelling) paintings.

http://gatesoldhawthorne.com/

It was interesting to find that the Thomas Kinkade Company describes its mission as "Creating the Leading Art-Based Lifestyle Brand" And that his new series of paintings are his "romantic realism" take on classic Disney movies.

I like old buildings too. I was recently in Frankfurt and spent a lot of time walking through the old city taking waaaaaaaay too many pictures. But there were newer buildings that were respectifully placed in the same area and they lived very nicely together. What is great about old buildings is their integrity. What is great about well designed new buildings is the same thing. I also understand that the concept illustration from the TOD presentation is just that, an illustration of the concept, but those things have a way of strongly influencing final choices. And that illustration just needed Thomas the Tank Engine pulling into Shining Time Station to make it complete! (grin)

In the end any building built now will be contemporary to this time, in ways intended and unintended. If we can, together, come up with a plan that we'll still be proud of fifty years from now, that works for me.
I spent 4+ years in Columbia, MO, going to school (and grew up an hour away). The development that has largely transpired there over the last 20 years makes my heart sink — perfect examples of "developer architecture."

It's a great example of what happens when a place becomes hot (consistently ranked among America's best places to live in the early 90s when I was there). Too many people with vision... of growth — but not vision of community, art, etc.

But it's also a bit of a transient town, with several colleges and universities making up nearly half of the population.

Cabot Parsons said:
Then check out "Old Hawthorne" in Columbia, MO, an entire subdivision based on Kinkade's (sorry for the earlier misspelling) paintings.

http://gatesoldhawthorne.com/

It was interesting to find that the Thomas Kinkade Company describes its mission as "Creating the Leading Art-Based Lifestyle Brand" And that his new series of paintings are his "romantic realism" take on classic Disney movies.

I like old buildings too. I was recently in Frankfurt and spent a lot of time walking through the old city taking waaaaaaaay too many pictures. But there were newer buildings that were respectifully placed in the same area and they lived very nicely together. What is great about old buildings is their integrity. What is great about well designed new buildings is the same thing. I also understand that the concept illustration from the TOD presentation is just that, an illustration of the concept, but those things have a way of strongly influencing final choices. And that illustration just needed Thomas the Tank Engine pulling into Shining Time Station to make it complete! (grin)

In the end any building built now will be contemporary to this time, in ways intended and unintended. If we can, together, come up with a plan that we'll still be proud of fifty years from now, that works for me.
Janine Lambers said:
Dear Mayor Gold,

regarding the Beacon Transit Oriented Development

The MTA and the City of Beacon have a great opportunity to bring something unique and inspiring to our waterfront. As a point of arrival the TOD will be the first impression many visitors will have of our city. Yet, it is imperative that this first impression creates instant curiosity, desire and awe.

We suggest the TOD adopt an ultra-modern and contemporary appearance (like the Bard college concert hall) that way that area can be the connecting link between the DIA, the waterfront and Main Street which will ultimately result in increased business on Main Street.

Beacon, having DIA and Storm King Art Center close by, is already the central location for contemporary art in the Hudson Valley. Since this strong contemporary art movement already exists it would only make sense to latch on to these powerful attractions by creating an ultra modern architectural structure that will strengthen Beacon’s contemporary image and propel us even more into the national and international spotlight.

We also encourage such architecture to spill over onto Main Street. That will connect the dots and attract people to our city while inspiring and stimulating our citizens.

Combining Beacon’s existing industrial, residential and brick buildings with architectural elements - such as transparent facades, flowing movements and green standards – will elevate Beacon to a ‘one-of-a-kind’ in the Hudson Valley. Beacon has the chance to stand out as a contemporary art as well as an architectural destination.

Stewart airport has also turned out to be another asset that puts us on the map! Creating an inviting TOD zone will increase the flow of business people and tourists that might otherwise just use Beacon’s train station as a transit point without giving Beacon and its attractions a second thought.

Our suggestions are:
• We urge the MTA and the City council to open a competition to all architects to create a contemporary design for the TOD.
• We understand that the Block version that was suggested on Aug 3rd was only an example, however, it was yet another uninspiring design. We urge the MTA to create an exciting structure and not conform to mediocrity.
• Furthermore, we should contemplate encouraging all new structures in the city to be of a contemporary design thus creating an ultra-modern look for Beacon.

We hope for the TOD and the city of Beacon to be stunning rather than mediocre. We want people's reactions to be ‘Wow, I want to visit that city’.

regards,

Janine Lambers and Mark Hurley

We include internet links of contemporary / ultra modern design along with the architect’s details.

http://www.herzogdemeuron-film.com/en/trailer/ by architects Herzog & de Meuron

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=ghery&um=1&ie=U... by architect Frank Gehry

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=shigeru+ban&um=1&am...... by architect Shigeru Ban
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=jean%20nouvelle%20archi... by architect Jean Nouvelle
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&um=1&sa=1&q=moder... images of modern architecture
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Permalink Reply by Steve Gold on September 8, 2009 at 10:18pm


It is interesting to me that an individual interested in contemporary art feels that changes need to be made to the small town feel of Main Street in Beacon disregarding what LONG TIME residents of Beacon love about our city. Spare me the details. For me, the look of Main Street is exactly why we citizens of Beacon love living here and we don't need the "Artsy" crowd telling us it's not good enough. And a little bit of advice for the "know all" crowd. Believe it or not, we ARE an educated demographic. Just because we have lived here longer does not mean we did not get a good education. Just who are you referring to when you discuss encouraging a more educated demographic to move here?
I'll put my education and intelligence up against any "so-called" educated new resident. It seems to me you don't know or haven't bothered to educate yourselves on who exactly lives in Beacon and have for much longer than many of the so-called experts who move here and tell us what WE need. We love Beacon the way it is. By the way, art is an individual taste. Those that suggest that Main Street be changed to reflect a more Contemporary feel have a biased viewpoint and are not considering the opinions of those residents who would hate it. Changing the look and feel of Main Street would take away the charm and appeal of our little city.
The opinions about new architecture being discussed here are about the TOD, not Main Street. Hi, Fran. Nice to meet you. My wife Melanie and I moved here five years ago and plan on staying here the rest of our lives. We like Beacon for all it has as well. My wife and I both grew up in small towns very much like Beacon. My wife grew up in a family that ran an antiques business and has a long love of old things, as do I. We live in a cute little Cape Cod house built in 1950 and are being very respectful as to its original lines and bones because we love it for what it is. We've reached out and met many wonderful people who have been here five years, ten years, 30 years, their whole lives and for generations. We are ALL Beacon. Did you, as a LONG TIME resident, like Beacon just the way it was when the waterfront was an industrial waste dump? Did you like Beacon just the way it was when our charming Main Street was boarded up and deserted?

Beacon is a wonderful place and EVERYONE who lives here thinks so. So how about we stop the whole "THEY have the audacity to move here and tell us what WE need" rhetoric? Because some of us have lived here less than others we need to be treated as "less than" full citizens and get permission from LONG TIME residents for our opinions or we're to be dismissed? Fran, that's not what this place is about at its best. You are absolutely entitled to your opinion and your voice. So are those of us who didn't grow up here but love this place just as much. If you took the time to get to know us you'd find that we have a lot more in common than you think. Or you could just keep calling new people with different ideas names. But we're here, we're "artsy" and we ain't going anywhere. Get used to it. Who knows? You might learn we're not the "know-it-alls" you think we are.
Fran,
There's no mention of education standards in our posting. Perhaps you are mixing it up with some other communication. We did make suggestions on how we could envision the TOD zone and the way it could connect to Main Street.

I myself am from a very small village and I am very aware of how long term residents feel about newcomers - that seems to be the same globally. However, my husband and I have chosen Beacon because we love it for what it is AND for the potential that it has.

As for change:
Change is an inevitable driving force in our existence and we have the choice to actively participate in creating an environment we want to be in and would like to see happening for our future or we can sit on the sidelines and let others do it - but it will happen. That is life.

Even during our time living here we have seen continuous change.
And if you have lived here for so many years you must have seen an enormous amount of change.
It is Beacon's diversity that makes it so attractive.

Fran Craft said:
Janine Lambers said:
Dear Mayor Gold,

regarding the Beacon Transit Oriented Development

The MTA and the City of Beacon have a great opportunity to bring something unique and inspiring to our waterfront. As a point of arrival the TOD will be the first impression many visitors will have of our city. Yet, it is imperative that this first impression creates instant curiosity, desire and awe.

We suggest the TOD adopt an ultra-modern and contemporary appearance (like the Bard college concert hall) that way that area can be the connecting link between the DIA, the waterfront and Main Street which will ultimately result in increased business on Main Street.

Beacon, having DIA and Storm King Art Center close by, is already the central location for contemporary art in the Hudson Valley. Since this strong contemporary art movement already exists it would only make sense to latch on to these powerful attractions by creating an ultra modern architectural structure that will strengthen Beacon’s contemporary image and propel us even more into the national and international spotlight.

We also encourage such architecture to spill over onto Main Street. That will connect the dots and attract people to our city while inspiring and stimulating our citizens.

Combining Beacon’s existing industrial, residential and brick buildings with architectural elements - such as transparent facades, flowing movements and green standards – will elevate Beacon to a ‘one-of-a-kind’ in the Hudson Valley. Beacon has the chance to stand out as a contemporary art as well as an architectural destination.

Stewart airport has also turned out to be another asset that puts us on the map! Creating an inviting TOD zone will increase the flow of business people and tourists that might otherwise just use Beacon’s train station as a transit point without giving Beacon and its attractions a second thought.

Our suggestions are:
• We urge the MTA and the City council to open a competition to all architects to create a contemporary design for the TOD.
• We understand that the Block version that was suggested on Aug 3rd was only an example, however, it was yet another uninspiring design. We urge the MTA to create an exciting structure and not conform to mediocrity.
• Furthermore, we should contemplate encouraging all new structures in the city to be of a contemporary design thus creating an ultra-modern look for Beacon.

We hope for the TOD and the city of Beacon to be stunning rather than mediocre. We want people's reactions to be ‘Wow, I want to visit that city’.

regards,

Janine Lambers and Mark Hurley

We include internet links of contemporary / ultra modern design along with the architect’s details.

http://www.herzogdemeuron-film.com/en/trailer/ by architects Herzog & de Meuron

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=ghery&um=1&ie=U... by architect Frank Gehry

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=shigeru+ban&um=1&am...... by architect Shigeru Ban
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=jean%20nouvelle%20archi... by architect Jean Nouvelle
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&um=1&sa=1&q=moder... images of modern architecture
► Reply to This
Permalink Reply by Steve Gold on September 8, 2009 at 10:18pm


It is interesting to me that an individual interested in contemporary art feels that changes need to be made to the small town feel of Main Street in Beacon disregarding what LONG TIME residents of Beacon love about our city. Spare me the details. For me, the look of Main Street is exactly why we citizens of Beacon love living here and we don't need the "Artsy" crowd telling us it's not good enough. And a little bit of advice for the "know all" crowd. Believe it or not, we ARE an educated demographic. Just because we have lived here longer does not mean we did not get a good education. Just who are you referring to when you discuss encouraging a more educated demographic to move here?
I'll put my education and intelligence up against any "so-called" educated new resident. It seems to me you don't know or haven't bothered to educate yourselves on who exactly lives in Beacon and have for much longer than many of the so-called experts who move here and tell us what WE need. We love Beacon the way it is. By the way, art is an individual taste. Those that suggest that Main Street be changed to reflect a more Contemporary feel have a biased viewpoint and are not considering the opinions of those residents who would hate it. Changing the look and feel of Main Street would take away the charm and appeal of our little city.
To all, thank you for your thoughts. This discussion has been rich with ideas. I especially enjoyed the topics about what it takes for a Main Street business to survive. I wish I could have contributed sooner but this is my first chance to respond. BTW Main Street looked incredibly beautiful today (Saturday).

Mt Beacon: Scott and others, any development on top of Mt. Beacon is not an option. Scenic Hudson has made it perfectly clear to me that they want the top of Mt. Beacon to be a natural experience to enjoy the view and walk the trails. BTW if you are not familiar with the efforts to restore the Mt. Beacon Incline go to www.inclinerailway.org. The incline on its own merit will provide the kind of tourist draw that you envision.

Cost/Benefit Analysis: Jill, the city is doing a cost/benefit analysis to determine if the TOD and the other large planned developments will bring in revenue or cost us too much in services (including the school system). Also, you mentioned you would prefer a smaller development but the MTA will not build less than the 600 units. The original comprehensive plan called for less units and when the MTA put out an RFP for developers they couldn’t find any that would build for fewer than 600. The city could pass a zoning density of a few hundred units but it would mean that the TOD would not be built. In case your response is “so don’t let it be built” the city council is interested in the TOD and other developments to be able to bring the city up to a comfortable level of financial sustainability (previously mentioned cost/benefit analysis) and we believe it will help stimulate business on Main Street. Several Main Street businesses disagree.

Newburgh: Mark, Mark, Mark….. I agree with you about Newburgh! They have a real disconnect with Main Street and their developments don’t include the benefit of a residential consumer base. Again, I know you are disappointed in Beacon’s shopping habits. And as you know I firmly believe that the 3,000 new residents can only help. Obviously a shuttle is a key component (see next topic below). There has been interesting dialogue about what it will take for Main Street to be successful and what type of shops will work here between Mark, Charlene and others. I am of the belief that others have said that the shops/restaurants that make it here are the ones that appeal to the people who live here. Here is an example. Isamu is doing well (my guess) but there were two previous restaurants in the same place that did not. I think their price point was too high for that location. I doubt if any Main Street business can survive on tourists from DIA and second Saturday so obviously they too have to find a local appeal. BTW when I first moved to Beacon 22 years ago I wouldn’t go to Main Street to buy a tooth brush let alone shop. Then the antique shops moved in and well, I couldn’t afford antiques. But after DIA opened and the galleries and then the restaurants I love to browse and eat at Main Street restaurants. My point is that even the buying habits of people who live here can change with the right businesses.

To all: Yes we need a shuttle. We’ve been trying to figure out how to do that since we began the comprehensive plan. The county had a shuttle on weekends but it was always empty. There wasn’t a study to understand why it failed, maybe it needed to stop in front of DIA. But everyone is sure that there is a way to make it work. Nobody can figure out how to pay for it or to make it cheap enough so it is a thoughtless jump on and off type of thing. The city is waiting on a grant application with the MTA to do a study. I’ve consistently pushed the issue with the MTA that the will win popular support for the TOD if they help get a shuttle. They are working on it. Please understand that the city knows how valuable a shuttle would be but we can’t afford to take it on ourselves. So far we haven’t found a way to make it happen.

Janine, Cabot and Scott and others: The MTA insists that they will be the sole entity to decide on the developer that will be used. They say that they will be approaching the decision with attention to past designs and developments of the organizations that respond to the RFP. After the developer is selected, the designs for the TOD will be shown to the city at a community input meeting with the intention of adapting suggestions. It may be of some help that they will work to develop the RFP’s which can contain design guidelines. Of course as it stands now the final approval will be in the hands of the council. Unfortunately this process is a prescription for mediocrity but I do not see a way to change it. The MTA is firm in their position and the council is very reluctant to play a role. I personally agree with you that the city should have more control and play a larger role in the design decision so that we can get something amazing can happen there, but I don’t know what to do at this point. Perhaps you can comment on this at the next council meeting this Monday.

Thank you,
Steve Gold
I agree with Steve that without direct city council involvement in the proposal process all of the above rhetoric on the TOD will be moot and whatever they do will the the same empty development promises they've given other communities. Whether you want super contemporary art or ye old time village, if the city has no seat at the table, Beacon citizens will have no voice other than one meeting to complain and be ignored. So let your council person know you are disappointed that the council wants to relinquish authority to the MTA and let THEM decide what our waterfront will look like, rather than us. And let the current candidates know. And get your friends and neighbors to do the same. The city DOES HAVE THE POWER to force the MTA to do it differently in Beacon, but the council needs to be reminded who they work for. And for those candidates that actually read BCN, STAND UP FOR CITY CONTROL OF THE TOD AND BE COUNTED!!!!!!!!
Steve wrote:The original comprehensive plan called for less units and when the MTA put out an RFP for developers they couldn’t find any that would build for fewer than 600. The city could pass a zoning density of a few hundred units but it would mean that the TOD would not be built. In case your response is “so don’t let it be built” the city council is interested in the TOD and other developments to be able to bring the city up to a comfortable level of financial sustainability (previously mentioned cost/benefit analysis) and we believe it will help stimulate business on Main Street.”

They couldn’t find any developers? Really? I’d like to see the paperwork on that. I’d like proof. Because I do not believe the MTA has the best interests of Beacon uppermost. I think there might be a little something in it for them.

And then, still, I would say to you—It is a fallacy that building this will have any serious impact on the taxes of Beacon citizens. This is a notion that has been disproven many times, but developers love it when people buy into this line of thinking, because it makes it that much easier for them to shove something through, to sell you on their plan as relieving you of your problem. Right. That’s why they are eager to develop—to help us. Much more likely is that traffic congestion and further isolating the waterfront into some exclusive preserve of the "young, educated, employed and not in heavy debt" or whatever. Adding 20% to the population this rapidly is a recipe for disaster (and if your figure is correct, would exceed the current water supply capabilities listed in the Comprehensive Plan.)

Please, tell me that under your watch as mayor of the City of Beacon, we will not be selling our waterfront to the MTA for some fantasy tax dollars. Tell me this is not what you are planning to do with the waterfront that belongs to the citizens of Beacon and the rest of the public. Tell me you will not shrug your shoulders and say “Well, there is nothing really we can do unless we do what they tell us to do.” Tell me that’s not your attitude about the waterfront. If it is, you won’t want to be hearing what people are saying about you in 15 or 20 years.

Steve wrote:The city is waiting on a grant application with the MTA to do a study. I’ve consistently pushed the issue with the MTA that the will win popular support for the TOD if they help get a shuttle. They are working on it.”

Steve, Steve, Steve, this is a TRANSIT-oriented development. We are almost a decade into the 21st century. Yet we are planning something more suitable for 1950. What about the railway that runs through town? Let’s have some can-do from the MTA and get it going. In the long run, doing it right will even benefit the MTA. At the very least, lets wait till they finish "working on it" before we make any other moves.

Steve wrote: “The MTA insists that they will be the sole entity to decide on the developer that will be used. They say that they will be approaching the decision with attention to past designs and developments of the organizations that respond to the RFP. After the developer is selected, the designs for the TOD will be shown to the city at a community input meeting with the intention of adapting suggestions.”

"A community input meeting with the intention of adapting suggestions." What invigorating language. Gives me the feeling that someone is about to pluck me over. I ask you, since you know full well that any future tax dollars will have zero affect on the city budget for at least the next five years, why do you, other than as a cynical political action, insist on confusing this with some kind of fiscal salvation? It is simply not true. Why are we selling our waterfront so cheaply?

What is the big rush on this? Whose timetable are we on? Ours? Or the MTA’s? Sure, they would love to ram through a zoning law that allows them to do everything it or its developer would like, while offering us the possibility of a few phantom tax dollars, a zoning law that will greatly increase traffic because it has none of the beneficial features of a true transit oriented development, one that will decrease the quality of life, not help Main Street, and not connect to the rest of Beacon.

Why the big rush? Maybe because the MTA wants this put through now because they are broke. If we hand over the waterfront, they will not only get a developer to build them more commuter parking spaces, but they will make millions in the process. The MTA threatens to build a four-story parking garage if we don’t agree to everything they say? With what money if they don’t have a developer? And is that the talk of an organization that cares one bit about the City of Beacon?

This is the most substantial development to be undertaken in our city since urban renewal. Why do you insist on rushing headlong into what will be another debacle for Beacon if we are not extremely careful and diligent with every single aspect of these plans? Let us take however much time we need to make this zoning law work for us in every way possible. Then, with the zoning in place, the MTA can decide if they want to look for the kind of developer interested in creating a true transit oriented development.

All the talk about closing the city budget or how to run a successful business on Main Street is ultimately beside the point and only serves the MTA’s agenda as a distraction from the true faults of the zoning law as currently drafted.

We have an opportunity to undo much of the damage done by urban development, to recreate a working connection with the river. It can be done. We have an opportunity to be a true example of the best of what a TOD can be. The social and economic benefits of a true TOD will far outstrip and outlast any supposed tax base relief. This is not some pie in the sky utopia. These are all things that have been done in TODs around the world, to great success. I outlined many of them earlier in this post. This could be the most important undertaking for the city in the foreseeable future, and getting it as right as we can is critical.

Putting this precious resource into the hands of the MTA is not a very good idea. I urge everyone who cares about the livability of Beacon to tell the Mayor to SLOW DOWN this zoning change!!!! If you think the traffic is bad now, if you think the waterfront is disconnected now, wait till this so-called TOD goes ahead.
A few blurbs from the MTA site, my bold emphasis:

The MTA's greatest contribution to sustainability comes directly through the "mode shift" from single-passenger automobile traffic to rapid transit. This shift, in turn, brings a significant net decrease in regional greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants through denser development that allows pedestrian, bicycle, and other non-automotive travel, while also reducing traffic congestion. For the MTA the most effective way to promote this mode shift is by capturing shares of new growth, both in increased commuting and in green community development. For that reason, the Commission recommends that the MTA seek to capture two-thirds of all new growth in both categories by 2030. That means capturing two-thirds of the additional vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) in the MTA service area between now and 2030. Italso means working with public and private partners. The MTA should foster conditions so that two-thirds of all new development through 2030 is within a quarter-mile to a half-mile of MTA bus or rail stations.


Metro-North is leading the Be in Beacon project that is encouraging development near Beacon Station through a partnership with the State of New York, Dutchess County, the City of Beacon, and stakeholders including members of the community, environmental groups, local merchants, and elected officials. The vision for this project is to create a destination on 18 acres at the station that will serve as a gateway to Beacon, reclaiming the riverfront and linking it to downtown Beacon.

Public transportation plays a vital role in the creation and maintenance of viable and sustainable communities. More and more communities in the MTA service region are exploring transit-oriented development (TOD) as a tool to promote smart regional growth, reduce traffic congestion, cut greenhouse gas emissions, leverage economic development, expand housing choices, and support changing market demands. By encouraging growth and development around public transportation, communities can capitalize on public investments in transit.

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