K’hook Board mulls how many visitors make too many

KINDERHOOK–The Village Board discussed the issues of crowds and events at the June 12 meeting. Mayor Jim Dunham read a letter from resident Audrey Peckner, who wrote that many events are now taking place in a village that she says lacks the infrastructure to support them.

On June 1, a Saturday, the events in the village included the weekly farmers market, a craft fair, and an art opening at The School gallery on Broad Street. On June 8, the Kinderhook Runners Club held its annual 5k through the village, along with the farmers market and the library book sale. On Thursday, June 27 there will be a food truck night in the Village Square.

Ms. Peckner said in her letter that during these events driveways are blocked, drivers coming through the village do not stop for pedestrians and visitors walk over people’s lawns. She wrote that many of the events do not bring economic benefits to the village.

Board members took issue with that statement though they did share some of her concerns about crowds and traffic. Mayor Dunham said that the June 1 opening at The School “drew the biggest crowd that I’ve seen.” The gallery is only open to the public on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the late afternoon/evening opening earlier this month was for the “Basquiat x Warhol” show.

Trustee Bob Baumeister said at the meeting that when there are three or four different events in the village on one day, it’s a problem. Mr. Baumeister had previously voiced concerns when there were weekly protests near the square at the office of then-Congressman John Faso. In 2018, Mr. Baumeister said at a board meeting that his issues with the crowds at the protest were “a matter of safety.” He worried then that the village would get sued if someone was hurt during a march or demonstration.

At last week’s meeting, Mr. Baumeister said the board needs to look at the issue “and not have so many things going on at one time.”

Mayor Dunham said the board needed to “do better planning” for events in the future. Mr. Baumeister and other board members agreed they didn’t want to stop having events in the village. “I think the village is getting very popular and we just have to start looking at things,” said Mr. Baumeister.

Trustee Dale Leiser said, “There is money spent all over the place” during events in the village.

“It’s one day a year,” he said.

“Years ago we were complaining the village was dead,” said Trustee Rich Phillips. But he agreed that the board needs to look into safety issues.

Trustee David Flaherty talked about traffic sight-line issues when cars are parked along Route 9. But he also said, “Honestly, how many people have complained to you about it?” He said he’d heard very little from residents about the events.

In her letter, Ms. Peckner suggested the village hire off-duty police during the events.

The board will continue to look into the issue as the summer season of events in the village continues.

Also at the meeting:

• The board agreed to apply for two grants with the Village of Valatie. One grant is for creek resiliency work along the Kinderhook Creek, which Mayor Dunham said would mostly be done in Valatie; the other is a revitalization program for spots along the creek in both villages.

The Village Board is also applying for grants to replace the water main on William Street and a separate grant to replace the village water meters

• The mayor reminded the board about Dutch Heritage Week planned for the village July 12-19. He pointed out that the Village Square now has a signpost for Buren, the village’s sister city in the Netherlands. Mayor Dunham thanked Michael Shaw for his volunteer work to create the sign

• The board set two public hearings for its next meeting. One deals with changing a local law on parking regulations in the business district that would not require hotels to have off-street parking and changing the restrictions on parking near the Village Square. The parking is now 15 minutes. The new regulation will change that to 24 hours

The other public hearing will be on a change in the speed limit on part of Albany Avenue from 30 mph to 25 mph. The Albany-Hudson Electric Trail, a state trail currently under construction, will be on the road in that section, with walkers and bicyclists sharing the road with cars. The village has conducted a speed study on that section of the road and the average speeds are under 30 mph currently

• The Village Planning Board has moved their July meeting to June 25 at 7 p.m. due to the July 4 holiday. They will be discussing the Three Sisters Tavern application which is waiting on a site plan approval from the board.

The next Village Board meeting will be July 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Village Hall on Chatham Street/Route 9. The public hearings will start at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email moc.r1563871196epapa1563871196ibmul1563871196oc@el1563871196adsae1563871196te1563871196

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