Last night's City Council meeting started with a very nice dedication to Gail Boccia, the owner of recently closed antiques store, Early Everything. She ran and operated the shop for 20+ years, and was the first brave merchant to relocate her shop to the East end of Main in '91, acting as a catalyst for others to follow and revitalize the area. The mayor gave a nice talk, and then declared April 20th as Gail Boccia Day! It was very touching - her family attended, and everyone was very teary-eyed.
After that, the phrase of the evening was 'transit oriented development' (TOD). They must have said it about 75 times, lol. You can learn more about it here
. Wikipedia defines it as "a mixed-use residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership". It has a lot of similar features with the 'placemaking' concept I brought up the other day. They talked about removing the parking lot between the Sloop Club and the River Front Park, and making it into an area conducive to walking, biking, and public transit.
Each of the 'stakeholders' in the development of the waterfront gave a brief presentation of what they've been up to the past few years, generally where things stand, and what barriers still remain before they can move forward. A quick rundown:
- met between April - September 2008 to discuss plans (MTA, DIA, Beacon Institute, Scenic Hudson, Clearwater)
- ideas generated: retail (marine supply store, tourist shops), sidewalk food vending, meeting rooms, charter boat landing, housing (35-40 units/acre)
- talked about "Research Vessel Dock" for the Clearwater Sloop; would be a floating dock,
- would cost less than $1/2 million to put in; grant for 50% already obtained from Department of State
- also talked about a Harbor building, would be for Beacon Institute, and an educational/Community Center
- owns the Long Dock/"Beacon Point" land
- 200 Beacon residents responded to surveys about how they'd like to see the land developed
- plans to develop a 16 acre park on the Southern side of point
- the Beacon Point area already developed connects to the trail to Dennings Point
- still working on getting permitting, hoping to begin construction by end of 2009
Long Dock Beacon Development Group
- hm. all i wrote down for this was they said they would provide "shuttles to Main Street"
- showed an aerial photo of the waterfront and some slides of what the hotel/conference center would look like
Edgewater Property (development management & consulting firm)
- 250 residential homes ('flats' & townhouses) planned for area at 45 Tompkins
- would generate around $1 million a year for the city
- still need zoning and environmental clearances
- own 18 acres
- have undergone a 7 year process to reach consensus on TOD design guidelines & principles
- received 5 submissions from developers, all indicated a 'financial gap' would make development not financially feasible; some zoning changes would be necessary
- need to increase residential density/decrease commercial density (increase residential to 35-40 units per acre, reduce parking to 2 space per 1,000 sq ft) for financial viability of a project
BFJ - linkage study to connect areas of all the waterfront projects
- analyzed traffic/transportation behavior & fiscal impacts
- talked a lot about the environmental and financial benefits of connecting all these areas for foot traffic, and again abiding by TOD principles
This is what I was able to jot down while they were talking. These bullet points are really brief, but each presenter talked about TOD, about how much work and collaboration has gone into these projects, and about their interest in community feedback. Seems like an exciting time to be in Beacon. They emphasized the importance of having a quick and easy way to get people from the waterfront to Main Street, which I think is a concern for a lot of people. They talked about creating these parking structures that would be enclosed in a nice facade, so it didn't look like a parking garage, and would be level with Beekman Street so people didn't have to walk uphill as much to get to Main. Again, if you google 'transit oriented development' or go to the link above, you can get a general sense of what that means, benefits, and sample images.
DISCLAIMER: I'M NOT A JOURNALIST. I did my best to get as much info as I could, but it's possible I misunderstood something that was presented, so just take the above info as my interpretation. If anyone else was at the meeting and wants to correct anything here, please do.
Finally, Mayor Gold mentioned that 'Census Bureau Listeners' are out and about in your neighborhoods from April 6 until June. There are 5 of them, all Beaconites, and you can call City Hall for the list of their names. No surveys are being done right now - they will be sent via mail in March of 2010.
There was some other housekeeping stuff after, but I didn't make it to the very end.... You can watch the video on channel 22, or on the cityofbeacon.org website whenever it's posted.