KINGSTON – Local architect and environmental advocate Brad Will has announced that he is running for a seat on the Kingston Common Council, throwing his hat in the ring against incumbent Rennie Scott Childress to represent the city’s Third Ward. This is not Will’s first venture into politics. He represented Ward Three on the Council from January 2014 to April 2016. When asked why he is interested in serving again, Will explained that he feels the current Common Council “overspends and under delivers,” adding that there is a great need for more creativity and fiscal oversight. Environmental concerns are also a top priority for the successful architect, who graduated From Cornell University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1984. He has served on the Woodstock, NY, Zoning Board of Appeals and as a director on multiple boards, including the American Institute of Architects Westchester +Hudson Valley Chapter, the Kingston Land Trust, and the Kingston Farmers’ Market. Will’s support of housing equity is reflected in projects his firm Ashokan Architecture & Planning, PLLC has undertaken, including the 53 unit Woodstock Commons, a thriving mixed income, environmentally advanced, multi-generational housing complex located in the famous Colony of the Arts. Will hopes to further address this issue if he is elected to the Common Council.
He cited his opposition to current plans for the city to purchase property at the corner of Broadway and Grand Streets — the projected cost for which recently increased by $325,000 — where an abandoned Planet Wings Restaurant now stands. Will feels that the Council’s plan to borrow money to convert the parcel into a park is not the wisest approach to rehabilitating this area. Will favors attracting a commercial developer to construct a two story mixed use building at the site, with retail business and parking units on the ground level and 12 or more affordable housing units on the second story. “This approach would provide much needed affordable housing, create new business opportunities and generate tax revenue for the city,” Will explained. Further addressing his dedication to environmental and housing concerns, Will has developed a creative plan for the 45 acres behind the Golden Hill Nursing Home, which is owned by Ulster County. He proposes converting the 45 acres into a solar field that would power 350 homes, 30% of which would be designated for teachers and first responders, 20% for veterans and 50% for working families and seniors. Will cited his good relations working with County officials as an asset in bringing this plan to fruition.
When asked about his position on construction of the proposed Kingstonian mixed use complex at the site of the old municipal parking garage on Front St. in uptown Kingston, Will remarked, “I favor the idea in principle,” adding that “this action should have been taken up years ago.” However, he pointed to conflicts of interest, favoritism and an ill-conceived Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) approaches reasons he opposes the plan as it currently stands. “A PILOT approach is ideally applied to not-for-profit developers,” Will explained. “The city’s leadership is giving away assets and getting very little in return, ‘public’ parking spaces at twice market cost” He added. Will also objects to the fact that no net carbon-dioxide emissions reduction is designed into the facility. “We should demand that any new development in Kingston be net CO2 neutral,” Will emphasized. The candidate’s concerns extend to historic buildings as well as new construction in the city of Kingston. During his earlier tenure as Ward Three Alderman, Will gained unanimous support from the Council and its Finance and Audit Committee to preserve the Kingston City Alms House, the Historic Amacher-Trumbull House and the Nathaniel Booth House. Will noted that preservation of the Nathaniel Booth house alone saved taxpayers $35,000 in demolition costs, and “prevented the destruction of a unique part of Kingston’s history and put it back on the tax rolls.” Another $60,000 of taxpayer money was saved by Will’s efforts to prevent impending demolition of two canal worker houses on the Rondout Creek, thus returning them to the tax rolls. In addressing his interest in serving Kingston’s homeless and underprivileged citizens, Will points to his cooperative effort with the United Methodist Church on Clinton Ave., which obtained $25,000 from the County to provide a warming shelter in the church that can accommodate over 30 people. As a result, since 2015 warming shelters have been established in Kingston and throughout Ulster County. Will currently volunteers at Angel Food East, Inc., preparing and providing cooked meals for housebound seniors. Will’s roots in the Kingston area run deep. His mother, Patricia Beaver, was born in Kingston and raised in New Paltz, where her father, Dr. Roland Will, was the first PhD on the faculty at SUNY New Paltz. Dr. Will also served as Village Councilman for four terms in the mid twentieth century, inspiring his grandson to eventually enter politics. The candidate lives in Kingston with his wife Sari, a Finnish-Canadian who practices interior design in the Hudson Valley. Over the past six years the couple has shared their home with several foster infants and children.