Also, city questions Henry Street apartment plans
A festival promoter hopes to hold an outdoor event in Beacon next month — the first of its kind since the pandemic shutdown began more than a year ago — but the city is weighing safety guidelines.
Hops on the Hudson, which is organized by John Scherer of Cold Spring, asked the city in December for permission to hold a “maker faire” with jewelers, woodworkers, potters and other artisans at Seeger Riverfront Park on May 22 and 23. State guidelines restrict outdoor retail events to 50 percent of a site’s given capacity, and Scherer sought to bring as many as 1,500 people per day into the roughly 3-acre park, City Administrator Chris White told the City Council last week. (Non-retail public gatherings face different limits.)
White felt 1,500 per day was too large a crowd, but on Monday (April 19), he said that Scherer had amended his request to permit 500 people in two, 3-hour sessions each day, for a total of 1,000 people per day. In addition, the festival would require ticket holders (no walk-ups would be allowed) to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result.
The event would be organized with vendors spread 3 feet to 4 feet apart and with 15-foot-wide walking aisles, said Scherer, who joined the council’s meeting on Monday by phone. Masks would be required. There would be more than 20 food and beverage providers in a food truck area, but no seating. The trucks will be positioned near the exit, so “you stop at the food trucks, you grab something and go,” Scherer explained.
All of the vendors will be from New York state, including from Beacon, such as RonzWorld Guitars and SallyeAnder. “It’s economic stimulus for businesses that have been starving for the past year,” Scherer said.
The Howland Cultural Center, Fareground and Arts Mid-Hudson are among the nonprofits that have signed up for information tables at the festival.
Hops on the Hudson has organized events elsewhere in the Highlands, including a craft beer fair in Cold Spring. Scherer asked the Cold Spring Village Board to permit another festival at Dockside Park last summer but the board declined because of trustees’ concern about a gathering during the pandemic.
Beacon council members expressed similar reservations.
“I don’t feel comfortable bringing a lot of people into town yet,” said Air Rhodes. “Maybe even just three months from now, but everything you’re saying just makes me think ‘disease vector’ and danger to the community.”
Two residents who called into the meeting also objected. “It’s too early to have an event like this,” said Arthur Camins. “It sends the wrong message to the public about the care that they need to continue to take.”
The city administrator can approve event requests without a council vote, but Mayor Lee Kyriacou said Monday he hoped to find consensus with council members. Both Kyriacou and Council Member George Mansfield said that unless Beacon creates guidelines, it will be inclined to follow state protocols. “We have to get it right the first time,” Kyriacou said.
White said he would continue discussions with Scherer, and would bring more detailed information to the Monday (April 26) council workshop, such as Dutchess County’s input on the proposed site layout.
5 Henry St.
Planning Board members had little positive to say during their April 13 meeting about a proposal to redevelop a one-story building into a three-story structure with retail space and 16 apartments, including a rooftop terrace, on Henry Street.
Described by the applicant’s attorney as an “adaptive reuse” that’s “more consistent with the character of the neighborhood,” the proposal would require four variances, including for the number of stories allowed in the city’s new off-Main Street transitional district, as well as for parking spaces and residential density.
The development plan does not include any spaces and is far beyond the four to five residential units that the zoning district allows at the site, said John Clarke, a consultant who advises the board.
“The context here is one of very low residential buildings,” said Chair John Gunn. “To simply build this out to its maximum and beyond, it feels completely out of context.”
100 percent renewable
The City Council on Monday (April 19) pledged to purchase 100 percent renewable electricity for municipal operations this year and beyond. It also approved an agreement with ELP Myer Solar to ensure that electricity used by the city is generated at solar facilities in the Hudson Valley.
About 60 percent of the city’s electricity is already generated at the solar facility at the former Denning’s Point landfill, which has saved the municipality $80,000 annually since it was installed in 2018.