Peekskill residents, business owners angered over proposal to install bollards on Esther Street

The city would be able to raise and lower the bollards depending on the day of the week and the time of the year.

Jonathan Gordon

Mar 23, 2023, 10:53 PM

Updated 390 days ago


Hundreds of Peekskill residents and business owners are upset over a proposal to install bollards on either end of Esther Street, which has been closed to traffic since 2020.
The city would be able to raise and lower the bollards depending on the day of the week and the time of the year.
"It's a step backward. It's a poor choice," said Brian Orsi, the owner of Bucko, an apparel, household and gift shop along Esther Street.
Peekskill Public Works Director Christopher Gross and Mayor Vivian McKenzie outlined several concerns and complaints the city has received at Monday's common council meeting that led to the city exploring this option.
It includes people parking illegally on the neighboring crosswalks, insufficient storefront access for some businesses and difficulty getting snow plows, garbage trucks, and emergency vehicles inside.
"We're looking at options that will give us an open space for people to enjoy when it's the weekend when it's heavily used, and also businesses owners can still do their business," said Peekskill Mayor Vivian McKenzie during Monday's common council meeting.
Peekskill Walks, a community group fighting to make the city more pedestrian-friendly, successfully closed the 120-foot road during the pandemic. They were hoping to have the city de-map the road this year and permanently cut it off to cars.
Each end of the road is currently sectioned off with cement blocks.
The city has never agreed to shut down the road permanently but has renewed an annual agreement to continue keeping it closed which runs through Dec. 31, 2023.
In just days, more than 400 people signed a petition calling on the city to reverse course.
"People still love coming out here, still love hanging out here so it's almost a proven concept of our original vision," said Frederick Dennstedt, a Peekskill resident and member of Peekskill Walks.
The city is considering a schedule similar to what it uses on North Division Street around the corner, also known as 'restaurant row.'
The bollards would go up between April 30 and Dec. 31 on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The project is expected to cost the city around $20,000.
"As we're working to revitalize downtown, we also talking about devitalizing things that we've done as a community," said Dennstedt.
City Manager Matt Alexander, who requested the project, told News 12 that the discussion on whether to reopen Esther Street on any basis is far too premature.
Alexander adds that he and the city are focused on getting the bollards in place to allow for access the current setup doesn't permit.
Residents say this is the first step in what they see as the city's takeback of a space that has become central to downtown.
"It would just create a lot of red tape and make it really difficult for everyday people to convene here, have events here, and to congregate here," said Orsi.
The Committee of the Whole meets on Monday at 7 p.m.  

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