When I announced my candidacy for mayor in February of 2020 one of my first statements addressed the importance the controversial durkee street development was going to be.
A topic of conversation before my announcement, the nuances of developing a major downtown parking area created a significant uproar. To address this topic with a "black & white" mentality doesn't do justice to the opportunity of community driven economic development in a small tight-knit community as the City of Plattsburgh.
In the hundreds of conversations I've had regarding this portion of the DRI, there seems to be three camps for the idea of developing this parking area:
- Save the parking lot. Although a minority of the people I've spoken to, this sentiment is follows the very valid concern for available parking for a few staple business in our small downtown. Parking is a concern for all of us but it's also a concern that's been a topic of conversation before the DRI became a reality for us. It's a concern that needs to be addressed.
- Develop the lot but with something more in-line with Durkee St. Reimagined proposal
In early June I made my position on the initial project proposal clear:
I don't agree with the scope and size of the initially proposed project. With setbacks encroaching the street, 3' pinch points, and potentially hazardous underground parking entrances, the project that's been proposed doesn't fit the look or feel of our historic downtown.
- I would prefer to see the Durkee St. Reimagined project proposal implemented. Even outlined in that proposal, it's clear that the proposal is just that. A guideline for what's needed and wanted in our community. A project that gets closer to this proposal is more acceptable.
- A lot of people who oppose the current project agree that the parking lot is now the best use of that space. I agree. With a limited amount of land that can be developed in our city, we need to use what we have in a smart, reasonable, and responsible way that best serves our current and future citizens.
If there's anything we can take away from this project is that we need a better mechanism for community involvement and we need to ensure our current zoning and planning laws reflect the type of development we need for the next 20-30 years.