Transit: Beacon seeking clarity on transit-oriented, waterfront development project

from the Poughkeepsie Journal

No one can accuse the City of Beacon of rushing through the process of how best to develop a key waterfront parcel near the Metro-North train station.

This proposed development has been talked about for years. But city officials opted recently to squelch plans by Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials to create a mix of homes and businesses, with Mayor Steve Gold deeming it “unacceptable” due to the density of retail space, number and height of housing units and 400-vehicle parking facility. The MTA had sought to have about 600 dwellings built near the train station, in addition to 120,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as the commuter parking lot.

The city isn’t against having any development there, and with good reason. Conceptually, what the MTA wants to do makes sense. It’s called transit-oriented development, under which a mixed-use development is located within walking distance of major public transportation hubs, such as the train station.

But city officials and existing business owners and residents have raised a number of concerns, not the least of which is how the new businesses would tie into ones already located on Main Street. To this end, Gold announced a new committee is being formed to discuss changes to the transit-oriented development plan. It will consist of roughly 10 residents, members of citizens’ groups and commuters, among others.

The city has been striving to create a seamless transition between the waterfront development and Main Street and has applied for a federal planning grant that would address the housing, transportation and other needs required to accomplish the goal. The train station is only about a half-mile from Beacon’s Main Street, and the city will benefit from having an overall view of how these areas can be linked.

While the MTA owns the 22 acres where the mixed-use project would occur, it would have to select a private developer through a “request for proposals” process.

But, first, the city has to be clear about its vision — and its zoning for the area. Until there is more consensus, Gold is right to pull back but still be committed to going forward in some capacity.

[poughkeepsiejournal.com]

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