Thursday, June 04, 2020

Legal Challenge Announced Against Durkee Street Parking Lot Proposal

© 2020 Luke T. Bush


The argument: the proposal by Prime Plattsburgh LCC to renovate the Durkee Street parking lot doesn't fit the character of downtown Plattsburgh. It's an unneeded renovation that will cost taxpayers and also doesn't replace all of the parking lost by the construction. Citizens opposed to the project want good, not bad, development.

The opposing view: Mayor Colin Read and some city councilors regard the project as a good use of DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) grant money, the future upscale apartment complex drawing more people downtown.

Today at noon the PCC – Plattsburgh Citizens Commission – held a press event on the front steps of City Hall. Downtown businessman and attorney Frank Zappala explained that a legal complaint had been filed, challenging the Prime project on the basis the city has no right to approve such construction on waterfront property. The Durkee Street parking lot sits next to the Saranac River.

Attorney Frank Zapalla

Frank added he didn't know how long the response would take since the courts were just opening up after the coronavirus pandemic had shut down the system. In the meantime, he continued, the complaint meant that all work related to the Prime Project would be stopped.

While covering the event I heard two people talking behind me. Even though I was at the required six foot social distance I could plainly hear what was said.

One speaker was city councilor Mike Kelly, a big proponent of the Prime proposal. Apparently he was having a bad day. Mike – his tone evincing disgust – asked the other person if he agreed with the PCC stance. The other person said he was there just to listen to the viewpoint of the Stop Prime group.

Mike continued to express his displeasure, asking what PCC proposed to replace the Prime project. Well, Mike, how about the original proposal that preceded the creation of the present bloated behemoth?  Mike also commented that only relatively few people were against the project while PCC members held a banner that almost spanned the entire width of the front steps, 500 signatures of the 2000 plus people who opposed the project.

The councilor used two words to describe all of the PCC members but since this is a family blog I won't quote him.

Other attendees have stated he called them “idiots.” One person replied that Mike was an idiot since he wanted to have citizens pay most of Prime's taxes, a reference to the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement with Prime Plattsburgh LLC.

People have complained that the city doesn't listen to their concerns regarding the Prime project. If the city councilor's attitude is typical it's no wonder why PCC members gathered in front of City Hall to carry on their opposition.

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