Beacon Roundup

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Historic district expands

Two projects under review

The Beacon Planning Board on Aug. 10 will continue its review of residential development proposals at 16 W. Main St. and 364 Main St. 

The West Main project has not appeared on a Planning Board agenda since October. The developers propose demolishing a warehouse and auto repair shop at the intersection of Bank Street to make way for a four-story, L-shaped building with 62 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The board began reviewing the 364 Main St. project in June and panned many aspects of it. After revisions, developer Sean O’Donnell is proposing 20 apartments and 7,500 square feet of retail space on the parcel, which he purchased in 2017.

Eight years ago, O’Donnell bought the parcel two doors down from his current proposal, at 344 Main St., from the city, received approval from the Planning Board to build 24 apartments plus commercial space and then sold the development while it was  under construction to developer Bernard Kohn. 

Kohn’s 248 Tioronda Ave. project is also on the agenda, with a public hearing scheduled on amendments he has proposed to the approved site plan. The developer’s requests include eliminating emergency secondary access to the site from Wolcott Avenue in favor of a “hammerhead turn-around” at the north end of one of the buildings, “making a secondary entry unnecessary.”

Kohn also seeks to adjust the route of the Fishkill Creek Greenway and Heritage Trail, which will bisect the property. The final route has not been determined.

Historic district additions

The City Council on Monday (Aug. 2) unanimously approved adding nine Main Street buildings to the historic district, which prevents the structures and neighboring buildings from being altered in a way that the city judges will harm their historic appeal.

Decisions on the nine properties were postponed last month because the owners filed objections to the designation, which restricts what can be done with the buildings. The city voted on July 6 to add six parcels but tabled the remaining nine because a super-majority vote of five members is required to approve properties with objections.

Beacon’s recently rewritten historic law gives property owners increased autonomy while allowing more diverse uses and money-saving opportunities, Council Member Air Rhodes said on Monday. 

“The concern and trepidation that I hear [about the designation] is far outweighed by the benefit to the city and, in many cases, the way we have rewritten the law actually assuages those fears,” Rhodes said. “I hope that, in the implementation, everyone finds that it’s not such a scary thing.”

344 Main St. parking

The council approved a five-year agreement on Monday to lease 24 municipal parking spaces to Kohn, the owner of 344 Main St., for $50 each per month.

Located in the lot between Eliza and North Chestnut streets and on Church Street, the spaces were leased by the city to O’Donnell in 2016, but the agreement was revoked after a dispute. After buying the property, Kohn rented spaces from O’Donnell at 364 Main St., which O’Donnell now plans to develop. 

During a workshop in June, several council members voiced their frustration with the conundrum, and on Monday Jodi McCredo and Dan Aymar-Blair voted against the agreement.

The arrangement will earn the city $72,000 over the course of the lease, which the council intends to earmark for long-term parking improvements. 

“I’d like for us to start trying to think through this as the model for any building that lacks parking,” said Mayor Lee Kyriacou. “Going forward, buildings that don’t have parking should not be precluded from development on our Main Street. We’re expecting the density [near Main], especially if we’re hoping for affordability. I’m hoping this is maybe not the only answer but a step in that direction.”

Spirit of Beacon

For the second year in a row, Spirit of Beacon Day will not take place as a parade and street fair because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Organizers last fall held a drive-by event, with community groups and officials crisscrossing the city in school buses, along with a virtual concert. After infection rates plummeted in late spring, the organizers were hopeful that a return to an in-person event was possible. But on Monday, they conceded that slowing vaccination rates and the rapid increase in cases fueled by the delta variant have stymied that plan.

The organizers said they have not come up with this year’s Plan B. The event has been held in Beacon annually since 1977. 

“Be creative,” Kyriacou advised. “It’s an unusual time. We’ll be supportive, regardless of whatever your creativity comes up with.”

No smoking in parks

Only one person offered an opinion during a public hearing Monday on a proposal to outlaw smoking and vaping tobacco or marijuana in city parks. Theresa Kraft said she was in favor. If approved, the law would impose a fine of up to $100.

A riverfront snack

The council approved a license for Mecca on Hudson to operate a food truck at Seeger Riverfront Park through October. The city recently issued a request for food trucks at the park, and Mecca on Hudson was the only applicant.

The company will bring its Number SEVEN Sandwich Hub to the park and, “if they do a good job,” City Administrator Chris White said, the contract allows for two, 1-year renewals. 

Community grants

The city has established a program that will offer grants of $10,000 to $50,000 to local nonprofits for capital projects such as improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, improve public access and facade upgrades.

Funding is also available for Main Street buildings in the historic district, including the parcels added on Monday. 

The program will use $220,000 in funds remaining from a federal urban development grant that, from 1977 to 1988, allowed the city to make low-interest loans to businesses. The loans have since been repaid with interest. 

During the pandemic, the funds were offered to small businesses struggling because of the shutdown. The City Council must approve grants. Requests can be emailed to White at [email protected]. 

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