The individual who has offered to pay for and install a gazebo at Peekskill’s Charles Point Park says that if the Common Council refuses to accept his donation it is their loss, and he just might donate it to nearby Mahopac instead.
“I’m not interested in the politics of it and I really don’t care at this point,” said George Liaskos, owner of Holiday Inn Express Peekskill. “Peekskill is looking a gift horse in the mouth. I try to do something nice, something that will benefit everybody in Peekskill and they don’t want it? So be it.”
Liaskos envisions an open lattice, galvanized, cast iron patina green gazebo installed on the brick circular patio that overlooks the river. The diameter of the brick, according to the city, is 32 feet and the gazebo would be 16 feet wide and 16 feet high.
Liaskos, who says the total gazebo investment would be in the area of $20,000, said while building the hotel, which opened in 2014, he often made phone calls and decompressed at Charles Point Park, but thought something was missing. When the idea of a gazebo popped into his head, he decided that as soon as he had the money, he would approach the city about it. So, a couple months ago he did just that, with the idea that a gazebo at Charles Point could attract people to Peekskill.
“They just filmed a movie in Peekskill,” Liaskos told The Peekskill Post Wednesday afternoon. “With this view, a gazebo at this location would attract movies. As well, who wouldn’t want to get married or have a special occasion and come to Peekskill and have photos at the gazebo? When a movie or a wedding comes to Peekskill, who benefits? The bars, the restaurants—everyone. What is wrong with that?”
On the June 27 Common Council agenda is a resolution to accept the gazebo donation. If the donation is accepted, the Council will then decide on an exact location. However, some on the Council have expressed reservations about accepting the donation.
“This really blocks the view,” said Deputy Mayor Drew Claxton during the Council’s discussion on the matter at the June 6 work session. “It is inappropriate in this location and while it makes great business sense for the Holiday Inn and for the wedding parties that they have there, I don’t know of anybody walking through that park saying, ‘Wow, we really need a gazebo here.’ It doesn’t fit the natural landscape.”
After looking at the images provided to the Council at that same meeting, Councilwoman Kathie Talbot agreed, saying, “It is sort of an odd design, too. It looks like its coming from Russia or something.”
“The view will be even better,” he said. “If you simply move 10 feet to the left or 10 feet to the right, this gazebo would not interrupt or block any view. It would enhance it.”
Another point of contention at the June 6 meeting, raised by Councilwoman Vivian McKenzie, is that a gazebo in that location would in all likelihood help the Holiday Inn’s business, which could make it appear as if the city was doing the Holiday Inn a special favor.
“This is pretty, I like it, I don’t have a problem with it,” McKenzie said. “However, this enhances his businesses so that’s not just for the public. It is across the street from his hotel and you’re right, it is the perfect place to take pictures, but our walkway is also a beautiful place to go take pictures. So I think we get ourselves in a position where it looks like it’s inappropriate where it is going to benefit not just the public but this particular business owner.”
Liaskos said he gets upset when money is inserted into the equation as a negative.
“Look, as far as views, it is a matter of opinion and I may disagree with that, but it is a matter of opinion,” he said. “As far as having a problem with someone making money, this is very upsetting to me. Very upsetting. Wouldn’t they like to see people getting married at the waterfront? And if people get married at the waterfront, wouldn’t they like to see them go to a place in Peekskill, say the Peekskill Brewery, afterwards? What is wrong with that? Would they agree that anything that attracts people to Peekskill is a good thing for everyone in Peekskill? I want to spend a lot of money to make something nice and for what, to fight about it? Is somebody afraid that I will gain something out of it?”
Liaskos also said that the city would directly benefit through the city’s hotel tax.
“I came to this country at 19 with nothing and now I own [the Cortlandt Colonial Restaurant and Ballroom] and in Peekskill I have this beautiful hotel built to last 500 years. This is the American Dream. If Peekskill doesn’t want that, maybe I will take it to Mahopac or somewhere else. I don’t want a fight.”