Kingston is a historically African American town located between Poughkeepsie and upstate New York City. Kingston has been suffering the effects of a large vacant commercial storefront rate, which contributes to a drop in living and working conditions for our local communities.
From developments such as the newly developed Waldbaum’s in our area, to the many large, new properties that are filling our area, these developers take advantage of tax incentives to build, sometimes with very little community input. Kingston is not immune to this decay, and as a result, our historic town is preparing for better opportunities, and it’s efforts are reflected in our public facilities, our streets and our community.
Kingston’s existing public infrastructure, which includes existing roadways, drainage, and sewers have been upgraded. Improvement and beautification projects have been included throughout our community, from new roadside landscaping to sidewalks and other infrastructure to improve our walkability. It’s no secret, the creative and innovative ideas that many local, grassroots and on-the-ground organizations have brought to our community to solve problems, improve quality of life and improve the quality of life for our residents have been a major factor in our successes.
In 2017, public budgets to fund improvement projects were tripled over budget, a result of effective program management and strategies by Local Authority Partners (LAP) communities in Kingston, as well as input and suggestions by residents at a number of public meetings. As a result, minor streets improvements, stormwater water management improvements, sidewalks and select other improvements such as fire hydrants have been completed, after a long wait. In the interim, some residents have had to deal with deteriorated infrastructure, lack of connectivity and maintenance on their residential property, or even projects that collapsed. As our residents saw increasing needs, they stood together with their community organizations and provided direction and suggestions for improvement, and in response, local committees began recommendations and data collection for future improvements. The feasibility study for a proposed complex affordable housing units, and a solution for roads, are on our local LAP’s radar screen.
The committee proposed initial Public Benefits Investment Program (PBIP) guidelines that would have focused on our community that makes meaningful use of bonds in advance of and throughout the design and construction of a project, both to pay for interest (which would be used for new infrastructure to improve water and sewer line and water system improvements), as well as to fund new equity investments in the project to assure timely returns to the community to ensure that future generations are positively impacted. PBIP is a key opportunity to take advantage of the existing infrastructure in our community to build economic momentum and infrastructure renewal initiatives, while targeting minority, female, and other underrepresented populations, because these projects create jobs in our area.
As a product of the Harlem renaissance, much of our communities’ investment in housing revitalization will come in the form of rehabilitation of the inventory of housing stocks that have been demolished over the past few decades. Our groups are working collaboratively with local organizations in order to transition to a community development model where we can invest in our own communities and provide job opportunities and affordable housing to our residents. In this development process, they are looking to situate and ultimately develop to create self-sustaining housing so that we become a safe and vibrant haven in our historic neighborhood, where we can attract further investments that will result in investment and growth of the entire community, both in areas including education, health, business, housing, and communities and landmarks.