For the past almost three years, landscape architect Cathryn Dwyre, who has a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania (James Corner, who designed the High Line in New York City, chaired the department), is a visiting associate professor at Pratt Institute, and lives in Hudson, has been working pro bono on an analysis of the park, speaking with business owners and residents in the area to understand the current uses of the park and to develop ideas for better programming for the park. This analysis has informed a conceptual design, which will be presented to the public on Friday, June 13, at 6 p.m., at 1 North Front Street.
Some elements of the conceptual design that will accompany the grant application were mentioned last night. They include: making use of the "triangle"--the part of the park west of the railroad tracks, which was once suggested as the possible site for a dog park--as a separate space; creating spaces in the park for unique activities; introducing a whole system of native plantings (Dwyre pointed out that the trees now in the park are considered invasive species and have been outlawed in neighboring states); using topographic elements to provide "ways for children to inhabit the landscape."
Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) observed that the proposal was "not necessarily a restoration of the park," which he described as a "graceful walking park." When he asked if this was a "rethinking of the park," the answer was yes.
Dwyre observed that the original design for the park did not accommodate the division of the park by the railroad. It pretended that the train wasn't there. The new design would acknowledge the presence of the railroad tracks and Hudson's past--shaped by the railroads and 19th-century industry. (It is believed that Elihu Gifford used his influence to bring the route of the Boston and Albany Railroad through the Public Square right to the door of the Gifford Foundry at the confluence of State and Columbia streets.)
With any discussion of Seventh Street Park and its current and future uses, the temptation is irresistible to include this video, made back in 1993 and filmed in great part in Seventh Street Park. Sam Pratt was the first to discover the video a couple of years ago, and it can still be viewed on YouTube.
A third grant application originally to be considered last night was withdrawn at the last minute. That application was for $250,000 for "accessibility and entrance improvements" at Promenade Hill. Like the application for Seventh Street Park, it was a CFA, but instead of being in the category of Parks, as the Seventh Street Park application was, it was in the category of Historic Preservation.
Last night, Bill Roehr, of TGW Consultants, explained that the Promenade Hill application was being postponed for two reasons: (1) after studying the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes (Promenade Hill has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1970), Dragana Zoric, a colleague of Dwyre's at Pratt who is working pro bono on the plan for Promenade Hill, realized that there was, in Roehr's words, a "conflict between the goal of access and historic landscape treatment" which would require a more extensive master plan to resolve; (2) the timing of the application did not allow for public participation on the Promenade Hill project.
Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who has been advocating for a handicapped ramp at Promenade Hill and at whose insistence DPW superintendent Rob Perry came up with a plan for a ramp that could be constructed by DPW workers, objected. "You want to restore the whole park, but there are people who can't get into the park." Garriga wanted to know why a temporary ramp could not be constructed. Council president Don Moore pointed out that erecting a temporary ramp would be expensive. (Perry's estimated cost for materials was just under $20,000.) Roehr explained that having a plan that incorporates handicapped access into a master design for restoring the Promenade Hill would make the project more competitive for grant funding. Unsatisfied, Garriga concluded, "I don't understand why it's so hard."
COPYRIGHT 2014 CAROLE OSTERINK
Thanks to Lisa Durfee who discovered the post card image of Seventh Street Park with the trolley car and to Byrne Fone for the other historic images from the collection assembled for his book Historic Hudson: An Architectural Portrait