Kingston “Goes Big” for Complete Streets

In the Hudson Valley last Tuesday night, the Kingston Common Council passed a Complete Streets resolution which makes it “a City goal to foster transportation choices by developing a Complete Streets program” and establishes an eleven-member advisory council that will make recommendations to the City on how to move forward. The evening was the culmination of an eight-month effort by Kingston’s Complete Streets Committee, which has been guided by planner David Gilmour and Kristen Wilson of Cornell Cooperative Extension and funded by the Robert Wood Johnston Foundation. With one more year of funding in place and this major goalpost achieved, Wilson told MTR she was looking forward to continued progress in the community.

Complete streets is an important part of the city's "A Healthy Kingston for Kids" initiative, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The resolution passed with a bipartisan 6-1 vote. At the meeting, Republican Alderman Andi Turko-Levin spoke about the economic benefits of this policy for a small city like Kingston. As a real estate agent and President of Ulster County’s Board of Realtors, Turko-Levin has first-hand experience with how a walkable, attractive community can be a significant draw for an area.  She told MTR, “it’s exactly what young families are looking for in a community.” Before the vote, Democratic Alderman Tom Hoffay told the Times Herald-Record that “there are things we need to have in place to be competitive for grants and be ready for climate change.” The sole dissenting voice, Republican Alderman Ron Polacco, said he was concerned the policy could impact businesses, though he also understood the economic benefits of Complete Streets.

Many of the recently passed policies in New York State have not included the establishment of an advisory council. According to Wilson, the team that drafted the policy came to the consensus that this extra step would provide a clear structure for moving forward. Wilson said the committee decided to “go big with the proposal and let the Council pare it down if they felt it was too large a step”; the Council passed the resolution as drafted.

Next steps are for Mayor James Sottile to sign the policy and staff the newly created council. The new advisory council will then develop a work plan and identify roads––such as Broadway, a central artery for the city––that could be improved with a complete streets approach.

Photo: Daniel Case/Wikimedia Commons.

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