Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Walks unveils safety proposal for Hudson and South

Citizen group looking for feedback
Peekskill+Walks+unveils+safety+proposal+for+Hudson+and+South

The nearly 50 people who crowded into the community meeting space at The Lofts on Main last week (March 20) were there to hear about a Peekskill Walks proposal called Hudson Gateway. 

Citizens who came to the Peekskill Walks meeting last week in the community room of Lofts on Main. (Photo@Calvin August Lom)

Peekskill Walks, a citizen advocacy group founded in 2019, unveiled images and ideas for how the river entryway to the city could become safer and more welcoming for pedestrians and drivers alike. One of the goals of the meeting was to get feedback from the public about Hudson Gateway before bringing the proposal formally to the city and state. 

Close up photos of existing issues at Hudson Avenue and South Street.

Also on the agenda was the debut of the Peekskill Walks resident survey and an update from City Planner Peter Erwin on Downtown Revitalization Initiatives (DRI). 

Hudson Gateway

Ben Freiman, who is Peekskill Walks’ planning consultant as part of his independent study at Hunter College, where he’s studying for his master’s degree, presented the challenges around Hudson Avenue and South Street and Route 9. In boards with the aerial view of the intersections and breakouts, he showed how crosswalks are not aligned to curbs and at night there is almost no lighting.

“It’s a main thoroughfare to connect the waterfront with the business district. Peekskill is limited by its residential topography, there is no convenient connection between the waterfront and the downtown. Pedestrian improvements are needed with crosswalks and lighting,” said Freiman, who is a transportation planner professionally. 

Peekskill Walks members hold boards with the proposal for improvements to Hudson Avenue and South Street. (Photo@Calvin August Lom)

One of the most dangerous intersections of the area (where Route 9’s south bound exit comes onto Hudson Avenue, alongside the dry cleaners) could be remedied with the installation of a mirror, to allow pedestrians and drivers to see oncoming traffic more clearly. This was an idea referenced by Conor Greene, co-founder of Peekskill Walks. Freiman maintains that the best way to remedy the intersection is to realign the intersection.

A mural painted on the retaining wall along South Street (going north beyond Hudson Avenue) could point the way to downtown for instance.  

With its Hudson Gateway proposal, Peekskill Walks hopes to work with the city and state to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers in this busy corridor while creating a welcoming, pleasant gateway from the train station and riverfront to downtown and the residential neighborhoods. 

Key features include: pedestrian upgrades at Hudson and South St.; lighting, landscaping and murals under Rt. 9.; realignment of crosswalks to increase visibility; safety upgrades at Hudson and Washington; and reinforcement of the pedestrian network between riverfront and the rest of the city. 

Life In Peekskill Survey Unveiled

Another item the group presented was the Life in Peekskill survey that is estimated to take approximately five to seven minutes to fill out. The survey is open to anyone who lives or works in Peekskill and will be open until the end of April when the group will share the results with the public. 

Update on DRI 

City Planner Erwin provided status updates on the pedestrian aspects of Peekskill’s DRI projects. “Dream Big” was Erwin’s motto when evaluating development  projects. “Know what to ask for when development money comes in,” he said in reference to revenue earmarked for the city with each new residential development project. He said the riverfront connectivity design is 90 percent completed. There are several issues involved in the realization of that connectivity project. A significant part includes the grade crossings at the railroad tracks at Hudson Avenue that the Metropolitan Transit Authority needs to make. At the other end of the connectivity project downtown is the installation of the Harriet Tubman statue near the gazebo. “And even though we have designs for this year, there are construction projects going on with the infrastructure that we need to be aware of,” said Erwin. 

City Planner Peter Erwin (Photo@Calvin August Lom)

The connectivity trail from the waterfront to downtown Peekskill goes along Central Avenue where there is a new pocket park created by Wilder Balter, who constructed the new apartment complex at 645 Main Street. The little sitting area is just beyond the building on Central Avenue and there is an interpretive sign explaining the rich history of manufacturing on that site. 

Erwin admitted that he wasn’t a big fan of wayfinding signage, but he acknowledged that it is a way to make the experience of navigating  downtown easier: to help people look for parking, museums, shops, restaurants, etc. “And it will improve the visual clutter. The planning department is mapping out where people slow down when they are driving as a location for signage,” he explained.

Greene spoke to the concept of Vision Zero which involves setting a timeline to achieve zero traffic deaths and serious injuries, which brings urgency and accountability and ensures transparency on progress.  

In order to achieve Vision Zero, a multidisciplinary approach is necessary that brings together diverse stakeholders to address the issue, such as traffic planners, engineers, policymakers, and public health professionals.  

“The approach here is that we can’t enforce our way with police patrols, so engineering road design and drivers following the cues to slow down are what is needed,” said Greene. 

Comments from participants focused on other quality of life issues around litter, beautification and code enforcement. There were questions regarding trash collection in the downtown and answers provided by a downtown businesswoman who explained the regulations around dumpsters, garbage pickup, and what building owners are allowed. 

A person who identified themselves as a new resident to Peekskill said, “This program flirts with beautification, but the more pressing issues are being hit by a car and dying. This is a safety and accessibility issue.”  

Greene responded that Peekskill Walks has requested crash and enforcement statistics from the police department through the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Greene learned on Thursday afternoon that their request for crash reports was rejected without explanation by the Peekskill police department and the corporation counsel. They are planning an appeal. 

Update: This story was updated on Thursday to reflect Freiman’s official stance that the best way to remedy the intersection of South Street and Hudson Avenue at the exit by the dry cleaners, would be to realign the intersection.  

About the Contributor
Regina Clarkin, Editor and Publisher
When the Peekskill Herald weekly newspaper ceased publishing in August 2000 it was the first time in the history of the city that there wasn’t a local newspaper.  The award-winning weekly was often referred to as the ‘glue’ of the community. Founded on January 9, 1986 by Regina Clarkin, Kathy Daley and Rich Zahradnik with a $7,000 credit card line, the paper filled the void created when the daily Evening Star was sold to Gannett and moved out of town. Founding publisher Regina Clarkin continued to live in the Peekskill Cortlandt area and turned her attention to other life endeavors.  Through the ensuing 19 years, Clarkin was frequently stopped in town and asked when she would start up the Herald again. In January 2019, Clarkin decided it was less labor intensive to deliver a weekly blog than a print newspaper so she began posting one story a week about life in Peekskill. After a successful crowd funding campaign in 2020, the Herald was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in July of 2021. Peekskill Herald is a digital relative of the former print edition, featuring many of the favorite aspects of the beloved Peekskill Herald such as old pictures, personality profiles and well written stories about newsworthy events. Regina Clarkin is the editor and publisher of the site. Photo by Joe Squillante