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Mayor Foster: ‘Waterfront Development, Downtown Growth Crucial to City's Success'

Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster outlined her agenda for 2013 in her state of the city address Monday night.

Last year was a tough one Peekskill, as the economic troubles witnessed across the country manifested locally in the form of layoffs and cuts to some services.

Still, Mayor Mary Foster said the city remained fiscally sound during her state of the city address Monday night. Foster said that the city has maintained prudent fund balance which, combined with grants and outside investors, will lead to more opportunities for the city in the future.

“The past five years have been difficult as the nation suffered a deep recession and a slow recovery,” Foster said. “The housing market in New York State has stabilized, but is slow to recover, state and federal funding continue to diminish, and city spending has finally come into line with significantly reduced revenues. In spite of all the challenges, the City’s staff has continued to rise to the occasion with creativity and sound ideas.”

Foster said the continued development of the waterfront and business district are key focal points in the coming year. Bob Knight, a spokesman for the Common Council, said 24 of the city's 27 economic development projects are moving forward in 2013.

Some of those projects include:

  • Reopening the Paramount Theater
  • Opening of the Holiday Inn Express
  • Groundbreaking for Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing
  • Groundbreaking for the Southern riverfront park improvements
  • Groundbreaking for the Central Firehouse
  • Engaging a developer for  Lower South Street

“Connecting a welcoming waterfront to nearby restaurants and shops, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts and our downtown is part of a focused strategy that we build upon each year,” Foster said. “The Holiday Inn Express, the newly renovated Inn on the Hudson, the new zoning allowing bed and breakfasts are accomplishments in 2012.”

Foster also listed a number of projects funded by grants and public-private partnerships that are on the horizon. Some of them include:

  • Main Street grants for façade improvements and creating 2nd and 3rd floor residential units for properties along South Division and Brown streets
  • Historic lights and sidewalk improvements begin on South, Brown and South Division street
  • Improvements and enhancements to the Nelson Ave. garage
  • Main Street Commons begins construction
  • 1028 Main Street will be the site of a new building for an existing downtown business with onsite parking.

Other goals Foster mentioned for this year include:

  • Expanding the use of public-private partnerships for redevelopment and revitalization projects
  • Expanding online capabilities of doing business with city hall
  • Increase the use of technology in city services, code enforcement and public safety
  • Strengthening community outreach and leadership in the police department
  • Expanding job training and workplace opportunities for the city’s disadvantaged young adults
  • Supporting the Housing Authority Board as it continuesto improve the quality of life for the residents, seek grant funds and resolve long-standing issues

Foster also said that she wants to resolve lease issues with the Lincoln Depot Museum Board so that the Visitor Center and Exhibit Plaza can be built.

“As we have learned from recent experiences with city owned property that is leased to nonprofit groups, the city needs accountability from the nonprofit organization for achieving financial and operating measures so that the city can protect the public good,” Foster said.

A copy of Foster’s address is available in the PDF attached to this story.

joshua tanner February 26, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Of course its foolish to build an underestimated multi-million dollar firehouse while the city collapses. Just the extra kids from Assumption are going to add to costs not to mention the dozens of kids who show up "unexpected" at Woodside in the fall. Its ok not to know what one is doing - but when one THINKS they know what they are doing and are in error it is much worse and thats the vibe I get from this regime
Fred February 26, 2013 at 07:27 PM
If you can pick your head up out of the weeds long enough, you'll notice that Peekskill is a great place to live. All I hear about is people sniping on the Patch because of the good old days. News flash--the good old days are gone. I'm excited about the new plans for the city and hope we can get there. We all need to pitch in. Too much finger pointing. The Mayor's not my best friend. But she doesn't need to be. She just needs to execute on the plans she layed out. That's my opinion.
joshua tanner February 26, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Its an especially great place if you aren't paying for much Fred. Peekskill should change its logo from a stove to an overfilled wagon with the horses dropping dead of exhaustion. Can hardly wait to see what closes next. Maybe the park pool, tennis courts etc
jo February 26, 2013 at 08:30 PM
are there any viable candidates from the Reps running against her.. anybody ??
Praetell Boch February 26, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Only "downtown growth" I see is on the Mayor.
peeknobrainer February 26, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Raheed, please, this is ludicrous. Waterfront development is indeed crucial to Peekskill's success, but we aren't doing any. If you were at the planning sessions all these years, you would know that the overwhelming majority of Peekskill residents (at least the ones that attended charrettes) want zero waterfront development which is why we're planting native grasses with Scenic Hudson. This model of park managment has been perfected by Central Park -- which is why Central Park Conservancy raises $40 million a year from Wall Street types to privately maintain it. What the Mayor is creating on the waterfront is a sinkhole for money, i.e. park maintenance, and there is no revenue stream attached because the model is to provide a park for RESIDENTS. No one is going to come to Peekskill to see some nice plantings. Also, I take issue with calling it a "Scenic Hudson" park unless they are paying either a substantial capital contribution to develop it or are contributing to (or taking responsiblity for?) the annual maintenance. This seems unlikely, since the group is mainly representing wealthy folks who want to make sure that no town sets a bad precendent by building something tacky on the waterfront. They have zero stake in the future of our city; if they did, they'd have pointed out that a city that can't pay its bills really ought to develop some new revenues streams.
peeknobrainer February 26, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Sorry, I meant Rasheed. I am not sure that what was outlined in this article amounts to "downtown growth" if by growth we mean increasing net revenues. One massive project like the firehouse is a significant drain on the city (the bond, the debt servicing, the taking the property off the tax rolls); i'm not sure that small clusters of restaurants and stores, however lovely, can really do much to contribute to the city's financial position, at least not in the next decade. We really need to do the math.
joshua tanner February 26, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Watch - they will end up spending more on a flop "study" on how to attract people into town than it would have cost to have the Peekskill Celebration and actually get people into town.
notsurprisedonebit February 26, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Fred, you must be one of these new idiots that moved into town and doesn't know anything about Peekskill. This City is going downhill and fast. Wake the hell up!!
Patty Villanova February 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM
They just did a "retail retention" study a couple of years ago that outlined all the mistakes that were made downtown which resulted in the total lack of shopping that we see today. The study was online, on the City website and may still be there. It is must reading for anyone who wants to know how to revitalize this part of the city. One of the big problems is the illegal placement of offices and other non-retail businesses in prime retail locations on the ground floor/ street level. According to the Code, these offices are supposed to be upstairs, but few property owners seem to pay much attention. Also, why are so many make believe businesses allowed to flourish such as variety stores and luncheonettes that are nothing but fronts for gambling, prostitution, (aka "mingling") and drug dealing? It's pretty obvious when you look at these places that they're not making enough to pay the rent unless they engage in illegal activities. Legitimate businesses are at a distinct disadvantage.
joshua tanner February 26, 2013 at 11:21 PM
I got a kick of how the preservation board harassed the Bruised Apple for having a small, "historically inaccurate neon "OPEN" sign next to the door, and yet other businesses have big signs that aren't even in English. What is historical about that?
JM February 27, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Well, in my personal view, I wished the plan at the river was simply to bury the whole thing in sand. Boat dock is cool too. But we'd have a very large (hey, bigger than Rye?) beach.... could enjoy all year, swim from May to Sept., attract folks from all points north and many points south to our beach rather than make them drive to NJ or the Sound. Which I have to do now. So easy to maintain too! As for the retail development comments above, I oppose those. No need for big boxers, but we need actual businesses that employ people who buy houses and spend, and not at $8 an hour, but at $100K a year -- engineering firms, lawyers, consultants, whatever. Nonetheless, the foundation is set so have to move on.
Earl John Powell February 27, 2013 at 02:39 AM
Peekskill is HOT? NOT! W/regards to the Search Committee's misrepresentation of Peekskill's own Phoenix Group. This group is abt Peekskill for Peekskill. The Red House decision is for outsiders & special interests of Birdsall, Peekskill Brewery to come in to plunder, pillage and leave this town worse than where it was-at a deficit. A stench of Strange Fruit fueled by a group of Up South Carpet Bagggers. As a registered independent, an enemy of my enemy is my friend. I will support the opposition this coming election. Until then, convince me otherwise.
leesther brown February 27, 2013 at 02:57 AM
@Earl..so what attracted you to Peekskill in the first place?!!....You know you came here in 2002 you got all wrapped up in some BS you had no business in,now you think these folks care who you vote for?!!...#workurprogram..
Earl John Powell February 27, 2013 at 03:22 AM
@leesther brown: Talk later...
leesther brown February 27, 2013 at 03:23 AM
If the GOP doesn't step up their game Foster will step in as City Manager. they are already changing the charter page by page....what do you'll think all those special meetings are about?!!..Ten dollars to a donut that's exactly what these folks are up to,and if that happens we will never get rid of her..
shakemdown February 27, 2013 at 03:44 AM
she already has one foot in.
Ded Yorick February 27, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Yep. She's already the de facto city manager, being there 24/7. If there's no viable candidate to oppose her loompah doppelganger, the tattooed McGowan, then the loompah will become mayor and appoint the oompah city manager. If it looks like the GOP has a viable chance, then the oompah will resign as mayor and have the deputy mayor Claxton appoint her as city manager. Does Rigger know he's on the council? He sits there silently, looking like Charlie McCarthy. Does he know he's alive? I know Rangel likes his cronies dumb, sycophantic and useless, but this is getting carried away.
joshua tanner February 27, 2013 at 02:12 PM
I haven't heard a peep from a GOPer since the last mayoral election. Its not really an "on the job" party anymore.
Anabasis Bob February 27, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Soon the govt is going to muscle the Bruised Apple into having more books "en espanol" for today's youth. They'll pass a law stating that 50% of the books must be "para los Latinos" and demand that BA put a picture of Fidel Castro in the window.
shedoyle February 27, 2013 at 03:26 PM
I dont' think I would be so quick to jump in the hudson from a beach in peekskill. maybe from a boat out at croton point...but peekskill. well. no. but I follow you. we have a great pool in the park that is very under utilized by the citizens. which is kinda nice - one of the largest pools in westchester county. however since she layed off 90% of the park department the park is not what it used to be. can't blame the workers. too much work for such a small team.
shedoyle February 27, 2013 at 03:28 PM
ah yes. rumor has it. a very good candidate in fact. I'm a democrat but won't be voting by party in the upcoming election. those of us who complain, myself included, will need to step up to the plate and get people out to vote. that is the key.
shedoyle February 27, 2013 at 03:36 PM
I agree - Peekskill is a great place to live! we need to keep it that way. and the people who are watching and paying attention to what is going on it the city have very real concerns. many people have their taxes built into their mortgage and don't see the increases every year. it is a good "head in the sand" when it comes to local politics and not voting on school budgets etc. also, I am just not happy about paying 1% to the city of peekskill on the sale of my house 10 years from now to pay for a firehouse that is just way too expensive. we may need an new fire house however it seems that no one (the mayor and her cronies) is willing to scale the project back. that is the most infuriating thing - that they just don't give 2 cents about the bottom line to the citizens and the fiscal health of the city.
Hypotenuse Jackson February 27, 2013 at 04:45 PM
If you were to jump in the Hudson from the Riverfront, you should probably bring a supply of decontaminizers, antibiotics, Benadryl, steel wool, lye, your own personal physician and a coffin. The pool in Depew Park is good but it’s too cold. They need to heat that thing. There’s one old dude who’s always there swimming even when it’s freezing. He moves V-E-R-Y slowly. It practically takes him twenty minutes to do one lap. How he stays afloat is anyone’s guess. He’s called “The Old Alhambra” and is a local legend (photo below). http://www.flickr.com/photos/macedo295/5632477836/ The pool also offers a very poor supply of snacks. Not even a Charleston Chew. In short, if you don’t want to risk a heart attack by swimming or if you’re not interested in watching the Old Alhambra, there’s not much to do there. Pity.
peeknobrainer February 27, 2013 at 05:33 PM
JM, I love the idea of a beach and wish we had one closer. I don't really trust the whole waste-overflow-into-the-Hudson thing though, the thought is a bit gross. My point about retail development was this: fine, let's not have any, or at least not connected to the waterfront. But DON'T then claim that you're doing "waterfront development" because you categorically aren't. Development implies new net revenue flows, from some sort of activity that generates revenue. This is what we decided NOT to do. Prettifying a park is great, but it ain't development. It's creating something that will require some kind of maintenance so it's actually an expense. It's irresponsible of the City to not only not educate people as to the tradeoffs and costs of these decisions - but then to blatantly mis-characterize anti-development decisions as develoment. Shameless!
peeknobrainer February 27, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Also, Hypo I agree about the pool's snack supply. It needs a lot more variety. The water is not that bad though! Nice big pool, it's actually packed some days and then a ghost town the next. Maybe if enough people used it more regularly they'd find a way to heat it?
shedoyle February 27, 2013 at 08:14 PM
the pool is not that bad-yes a bit brisk early summer - as is the ocean and lakes. snacks? really? Now your just looking for something to complain about! c'mon. LOL.... the only thing to really complain about at the pool is that it does not open till July. they just did the bathrooms over. you can rent awesome chairs for $1.00. yup, break the bank. and they have umbrella's too I do believe. for $125.00 for a family of three (2 adults/1child) for the summer it is a deal you can't beat.
shedoyle February 27, 2013 at 08:16 PM
this made me laugh. although not a laughing matter!
Hypotenuse Jackson February 27, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I guess it's not that cold. Probably my old age getting to me. If the Old Alhambra can do it, and he's at least 135, then I should be able to. It would probably cost too much to heat, anyway. The pool is rather big (and deep). Yes, you can rent umbrellas there for a buck. I always do since there are no trees to block the sun. Not sure why they don't open until mid-season. It is rather odd. Could be cost constraints, I guess. Who knows? It's good they re-did the bathrooms. The old ones looked like they hadn't been cleaned since the 50s. A breeding ground for all sorts of nastiness, although that sort of thing is fairly common with the average town pool facilities. Flip-flops highly recommended. They should think about adding a shuffleboard court. Inexpensive to produce and yields hours of entertainment.
peeknobrainer February 28, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Shedoyle, don't get me wrong, I think Depew Park rocks! Love the pool. Just very food oriented - and if I've got the kids with me, we don't last anywhere long without treats. When I don't go to the Depew pool it's always because the snack bar is better other places. Hypo - love the shuffleboard idea. Good activity for most age groups!

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