What is BDB?

Beacon Deserves Better is Beacon citizens advocating for an inclusive and comprehensive planning process regarding the proposed waterfront development project on the MetroNorth property

Beacon Government Contact Info

Mayor
Steve K. Gold
Office (845) 838-5010
Cell (845) 249-5571
mayor@cityofbeacon.org

Council Members
George Mansfield, Council At-Large
(845) 838-3012
gmansfields@aol.com

Marlene Fredericks,Council At-Large
(845) 440-8714
roxymf@optonline.net

Jerry Landisi, Ward 1
(845) 831-7198
pttjl@optonline.net

Charles Kelly, Ward 2
(845) 831-8721
ckellybeacon@yahoo.com

Randy Casale, Ward 3
(845) 590-1351
rjc52@optonline.net

Sara Pasti, Ward 4
(845) 831-0025
Sarapasti@aol.com

Join BDB for a screening of "The Economics of Happiness"

On Tuesday, March 22 at 7pm we’ll hold a regular (short) meeting of Beacon Deserves Better at the Beahive,  291 Main Street, with the film “The Economics of Happiness” to follow. See details in our Event section.

What does economics and happiness have to do with thoughtful planning and development? Find out by attending this special meeting. Brought to you by Beahive, Beacon Deserves Better, Hudson Valley Green and Artisan Wine Shop.

Facebook Planathon

Facebook is hosting a design charrette  to discuss its campus planned for the community of Menlo Park. From The City Fix:

The all-day event, dubbed “Creating a Sense of Place,” is open to the public and is being coordinated with the City of Menlo Park and the San Mateo County chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The meeting will give people a chance to brainstorm about four different elements of the new neighborhood: 1) existing businesses, 2) the perimeter of the campus, 3) the area northwest of the campus (also owned by Facebook), and 4) nearby housing options. Shuttles will carry teams of designers on a tour of the surrounding area before they begin their “charrette”—a term that originates from French architecture school. They will then spend the afternoon incorporating feedback from public participants into their own plans and present refined proposals at the end of the day.

According to Noemi Avram, a spokeswoman for AIA San Mateo County, as told to Silicon Valley Mercury News:

“The emphasis will be on creating an inviting and vibrant residential and business area. The goal of the charrette is to begin a community dialogue. The design concepts that emerge from that charrette will be widely circulated. It’s very likely that these ideas will have a significant impact on the development of this area of Menlo Park for many years to come.”

….Sources familiar with the company culture are saying tomorrow’s planned session will be similar to Facebook’s infamous all-night coding sessions, known as “hackathons.”

Holy Cow. My favorite line:

They will then spend the afternoon incorporating feedback from public participants into their own plans and present refined proposals at the end of the day.

People, if we can get Facebook East to Beacon, our planning problems can be solved in a DAY! I can’t wait till Facebook follows Pepsi and starts doing online grant competitions….

The MTA Takes a Hike

Beacon Mayor Steve Gold recently informed the MTA that the community had issues with its request to spot zone MetroNorth’s property at the waterfront. While most citizens of Beacon were  for developing this area, after many meetings and discussions, residents determined that the zoning draft contained many unaddressed issues, which are all gone into in detail here on beacondeservesbetter.org.

The mayor informed the MTA that we would be going back to the drawing board, starting with an overall reduction in the scale of the project. Shortly thereafter the MTA sent a letter to the City stating that, until we passed  zoning that they approved of, it would be taking its TOD marbles and playing elsewhere. Stay tuned for more.

Letter from MetroNorth to Beacon, September 2010

The Irony Grants (We'll take it)

My partner is working on the Ford Foundation’s annual report. She forwarded this to me, suggesting it might be just the thing to get the old Beacon spur line up and running again.

WASHINGTON, D.C., 18 May 2010 — The Ford Foundation today announced a five-year, $200 million effort to help transform the way cities, suburbs and surrounding communities grow and plan for the future, promoting a new metropolitan approach that interweaves housing, transportation and land-use policy to foster greater economic Continue reading The Irony Grants (We’ll take it)

11th Annual Hudson River Ramble

The month of September is full of events celebrating and exploring the Hudson River. It’s put together by The Hudson River Valley Greenway. The Ramble has it’s own website with a downloadable PDF of all the events, including a Dennings Point tour with Jim Heron and a guided tour of the Madame Brett homestead behind Main Street in Beacon.

We’ll be featuring more about the Greenway and how it might impact our TOD planning. Stay tuned.

Taken for Granted

I received this press release at work earlier in the week. Note that Poughkeepsie is already $95,000 ahead of us in grants after signing an agreement with the MTA in May†:

From: [mailto:DHecox@fhwa.dot.gov]
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 11:22 AM
To: editor@
Subject: NEWS RELEASE: POUGHKEEPSIE AWARDED FEDERAL GRANT FOR TRANSIT IMPROVEMENTS

Transportation Secretary LaHood Releases $3.5 Million to 13 States
Small Projects Make Big Difference in Communities Across America

WASHINGTON – Thirteen states received $3.5 million in additional federal aid this week to help pay for 16 projects that will make driving, walking and biking easier in the communities receiving the grants, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.

The projects range from the construction of  bike and pedestrian paths in Dekalb, Ill., Lakeland, Tenn., and Bonanza, Ore., to the installation of push-button pedestrian countdown features at crosswalks in Pinellas Park, Fla., and a bicycle route system throughout West Virginia.

“These projects will make a big difference to the people who live in these communities,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Putting in a bike path, making a crosswalk safer or improving the flow of traffic improves safety and gives people options for getting where they need to go.”

Through the “Transportation, Community, and System Preservation” (TCSP) Program, local, state and Tribal governments may apply for federal assistance to support methods of increasing transportation efficiency, roadway improvements and research.

Since the program’s creation in 1998, nearly $850 million in TCSP grants have been given to improve livability, reduce environmental impacts of transportation and improve the cost-effectiveness of infrastructure investment.

The TCSP Program is managed by the Federal Highway Administration, in conjunction with the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Rail Administration, and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The grant recipients include:

STATE Grant Recipient Project Award Amount
California California Department of Transportation Bridge replacement, curve realignment and new traffic signals on Green Valley at North Shingle Road. $333,062
Florida Tampa Construction of underpass at Brorein Street to extend the Tampa Riverwalk near the Hillsborough River. $125,000
Florida Pinellas Park Installation of push-button pedestrian countdown features at crosswalks $85,000
Illinois Fairview Construction of a bike path along the north side of Fairview Drive between SR 23 and Heritage Drive, and along SR 23 from Lucerne Lane and Fairview Drive. $168,000
New York Poughkeepsie Creation of a transit-oriented development conceptual plan for the area around the Metro-North Railroad. $95,000
Oregon Bonanza Construction of sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction. $350,000
Oregon Eugene Improvements to 12 traffic control systems on Franklin Boulevard, the key arterial corridor within the Eugene area. $40,375
Pennsylvania Elizabethtown Upgrade of traffic signals for synchronization and left turn lanes. $233,600
Rhode Island Wakefield Construction of an intermodal facility in historic downtown area. $360,000
Tennessee Lakeland Reconstruction of Huff n’ Puff Street, including the installation of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways. $300,000
Texas Dallas Creation of a “Complete Street” design manual and develop corridor-specific conceptual street designs for 15 demonstration projects. $400,000
Vermont Essex Junction and Williston Construction of a multi-use path linking pedestrian and bike paths between the two communities. $240,000
Washington Bellevue Installation of traffic adaptive control technology at key intersections. $360,000
Washington Puyallup Tribe Sidewalk replacement, ramps, landscaping and lighting to improve pedestrian safety. $269,219
West Virginia West Virginia Department of Transportation Finalize system of designated bicycle routes. $80,000
Wyoming Cheyenne Non-motorized transportation master plan for Cheyenne MPO. $50,000
TOTAL $3,489,256

For more information about the TCSP program, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tcsp/.

# # #
Department of Transportation, 400 7th Street, SW OST, M-60, ROOM 5106, Washngton, DC 20590 United States

†Gotta love the acronym in this one—MOU. “A MOU MOU here and a MOU MOU there, here a MOU…” No, Beacon don’t got no MOU with nobody. (Click the link at the top if you haven’t already and don’t speak beaurocratese.)

Grants, Bait Shops, and Lawyers

Dear readers,

Sorry for the extended down time. We have fired all the previous staff and are operating under new management!

Despite the late summer heat courtesy of Sirius, the dog star, we did miss some important activity revolving around several grant opportunities that would potentially help the city plan, design, and integrate development at the waterfront. The immediate lesson from this episode would appear to be “How did this sneak up on us (the City)? Has the city’s grant writer been given a mandate to troll the waters for grants that might be relevant to the TOD? Will the selection process for these grants be transparent?” Perhaps if the much ballyhoed but so far non-existent TOD committee had been up and running, some of this confusion could have been avoided. The new “season” for federal grants opens in October. At our meeting last night it was determined that BDB should be taking a proactive position. Any members with experience in researching grants, please step forward.

We’ll have more to say about the Grant Episode as the facts become clearer. In the meantime, here’s an  item in today’s NY Times about the changing waterfront in Portland, Me. It’s not a parallel, but interesting nevertheless:

While other cities — Boston and Miami, to name two — long ago surrendered much of their waterfront to developers, allowing hotels, condominiums and office towers to dominate their coastlines, Portland has resisted. Regrets over a condominium project, built on the waterfront in the 1980s, led to the tight zoning that exists today.…..

Last month, the city asked a bait shop to move away from the warehouse — a sign of doom for fishing interests along the waterfront, some said, if more nonmarine uses are allowed. The city said the bait shop had to move because it was blocking emergency access to the warehouse. But others suspect that Pierce Atwood did not want the shop, and its nose-assaulting odor, too close.

WHRTAS Regional Planning

How does long-term regional planning affect what we do today at our waterfront? This key issue has often been overlooked in discussions about shaping our city for the next 50 to 100 years.

On Tuesday, July 20, the MTA will present an open house on WHRTAS, which of course stands for West of Hudson Regional Transit Acess Study. It will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 15 Crossroads Ct. in Newburgh. That’s located right off 17K.

It should be an opportunity not only to listen and learn, but perhaps ask an MTA representative how this fits in with the scale of the proposed TOD in Beacon. Will line extensions on the west side of the river ease some of the need the MTA feels it has for continuing to add hundreds more commuter parking spaces on our waterfront for Orange County commuters? Find out Tuesday night.

BDB Selects Officers

After approximately a year of existence, Beacon Deserves Better has formalized its structure in order to help drive forward its mission. The following press release appears in this week’s Beacon Free Press, and is set for wider distribution in the next several days:

DATE: July 9, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Beacon Deserves Better, a grassroots group that seeks a well-planned transit-oriented development (TOD) at the Beacon waterfront, has formalized its structure. Elected were Mark Roland and Thomas Cunningham as co-directors, and James Korn as secretary and treasurer.

Since the summer of 2009, Beacon Deserves Better has been advocating proper planning of the 22-acre property controlled by the MTA prior to any rezoning by the city.

BDB believes the zoning law as currently drafted will have a detrimental effect on our community, with issues such as increased traffic, the loss of panoramic river views, questionable housing densities, and an inappropriate amount of retail space. The current draft also does not adequately address the opportunity to reconnect the heart of the city to its waterfront.

Beacon Deserves Better has been instrumental in presenting these issues to our elected officials. This has resulted in a postponement of the zoning vote by the city council.

BDB believes that a well-designed TOD can be a powerful positive force for the culture and economy of Beacon, and we encourage all Beacon residents to participate in the planning process. To learn more, please visit www.beacondeservesbetter.org.

The Parking Problem

You’ve heard it before in Beacon: “There’s not enough parking.” Well, yes. But really, no. From a new series in Slate magazine, called Nimble Cities:

…people complain of Hartford, Conn., that there “is not enough parking,” when in fact nearly one-third of the city is paved over with parking lots. “The truth is that many cities like Hartford have simultaneously too much and too little parking. They have too much parking from the perspective that they have degraded vitality, interest and walkability, with bleak zones of parking that fragment the city. They have too little parking for the exact same reason—they have degraded walkability and thus increased the demand for parking.”

We’ll be featuring many ideas about parking as it relates to our waterfront development, including an in-depth look at  The High Cost of Free Parking, by Donald Shoup, a professor of planning.