Dwyre's rethinking of the Public Square starts with dismissing the original 1878 design as a Roman concept, already out of fashion when it was inappropriately imposed on the Public Square--inappropriately because it pretended that the railroad tracks did not slice through the space. The original design of the park being dismissed, the inspiration for the conceptual design that will accompany the City's grant application came instead from Teardrop Park in lower Manhattan, Sou Fujimoto's Serpentine Pavilion in London, the Overhoff-Halprin fountain in Seattle, and the High Line, which Dwyre mentioned often.
The new concept for the Public Square (a.k.a. Seventh Street Park) involves a trellis structure to create a "green tunnel" for the train to pass through, a water feature (not the original fountain re-created and restored) positioned closer to Warren Street, rerouted pathways that are efficient, seating walls, a dog run in part of the triangle separated off by the railroad, and a "whole diverse ecosystem" of native plantings to replace most of the trees now there, which are predominantly Norway maples, an introduced and now scorned species.
Not surprisingly, although people expressed gratitude to Dwyre for her work and dedication, the conceptual plan did not meet with unanimous enthusiasm. James Male objected that the Public Square was not a park but a town square, and hence "every cliché about parks" did not apply. He went on to say that the proposal "completely eradicated what exists to create something 'on trend.'" Norman Mintz agreed that the area in question should be seen "less as a park than a public space." He and John Isaacs likened it to a European plaza.
Carrie Haddad commented, "It's an awful lot you're trying to put in there." Similarly, Alana Hauptmann suggested the plan was "ambitious for such a small space." Along the same lines, Melanie Mintz observed that all the projects cited as precedents were "huge projects"--much bigger than one city block in Hudson.
Nick Haddad recalled the notion of "editing" the space, suggesting, "If we take out a lot of the stuff that was added thoughtlessly, then you can reassess what we have." David Voorhees wondered if there wasn't "a way of incorporating some of the original elements and not just totally erase the past."
A fair amount of criticism was directed at the process. John Friedman observed, "It all sounds very nice, but why are we doing this one time on a Friday night?" (The grant application is due on Monday.) Bill Roehr, of TGW Consultants, explained more than once that the idea was to get the money and then seek community feedback to refine the plan. Since the maximum grant is $250,000, it seems unlikely that, whatever the final plan, it could be realized for for that amount. Roehr acknowledged this, by saying, "After we get the money, that's when we talk about phasing"--but the decisions about phasing require a plan that is more than just conceptual.
Don Moore, who waited until the end of the meeting to comment, said, "I would hate to see the process stop because people are unhappy with the plan." He urged that the process needs to continue, and he wants to see it continue, concluding, "We're discovering a lot about ourselves."
COPYRIGHT 2014 CAROLE OSTERINK