A public hearing was held Monday evening on the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement that assesses the impacts of proposed redevelopment in Plattsburgh’s downtown area as a result of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
The New York state Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQR, requires potential environmental impacts to be considered when development decisions are considered. Plattsburgh’s downtown improvement projects under the $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative are being reviewed together for the SEQR analysis. Special attorney for the city Mark Schachner explained that the eight projects include the Durkee Street parking lot with the Farmers’ Market, the Saranac Riverwalk and trail, the Westelcom Park Plaza, and the creation of a parking lot at the former Glens Falls Bank on Margaret Street. “This is not the only way that the city could have fulfilled its SEQR responsibilities but it's an extraordinarily responsible way to do so. Because instead of looking at potential environmental impacts of separate projects, the city decided to prepare what's called a Generic Environmental Impact Statement, analyzing potential environmental impacts of all of the downtown area projects together.”
The draft generic EIS includes analyses of parking, traffic, cultural resources, fiscal and economic impacts. In November the city council accepted the draft as complete. At Monday’s public hearing, only a few people spoke. City resident Laura Palkovic focused on two areas. “I would like to voice my support for the Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market located in the Durkee Street lot and my opposition to its forced removal to the sewage treatment plant lot. I find the idea of having a market that sells fresh produce and other food located there repugnant and repulsive. Second, $1 for Prime LLC to buy the lot, tear it up, I can make you better deal. Here's $2. Sell the DSL (Durkee Street lot) to me with the provision that everything stays as it is.”
Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market manager Julie Baughn took issue with Palkovic, saying critics of the downtown development have already written off the planned move. “We are looking forward to growth, expansion. And we're going to get, it's going to be so much better. We're going to start with the market and then we're going to move on to a children's playground maybe a dog park maybe. Why no one wants to take into consideration the development of down there I don't understand. Y'all have written it off and we don't even know what's going to happen yet.”
Plattsburgh resident Tim Palkovic, who is Laura Palkovic’s husband, says the environmental impact review must include social repercussions of development. “Table 52 estimates that one-and-a-third million dollars per year will be spent in the city by the new tenants of the city of Plattsburgh. The graph fails to mention that none of the services mentioned except for the North Country Food Coop exists in downtown Plattsburgh.”
Members of the Plattsburgh Citizens’ Coalition, a group opposed to the current Prime Development proposal for the Durkee Street lot, issued a statement criticizing the city for timing public comment during the holiday season. It noted members did not attend the public hearing because: “…the adverse impacts are far too expansive and significant to be condensed into the mere 5 minute time limit allotted for public comment… However, our legal committee and counsel are currently reviewing the draft GEIS and we intend to submit substantive written comment.”
Public comments on the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement will be accepted until 2 p.m. December 23rd.