Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mayor Hamilton Responds

At the informal Common Council meeting on Monday, Lakia Walker, speaking on behalf of the residents of Mill Street, responded to Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton's veto of the Council's resolution opposing the creation of a dog park in Charles Williams Park. Walker questioned the process involved in selecting the site and alleged, because Hamilton initiated the first GoFundMe campaign for the dog park in June 2014, that she wanted to build a dog park in Charles Williams Park "for her own use." Walker's questions went unanswered and her allegation unchallenged. Council president Tom DePietro simply assured Walker that "the entire issue would be revisited under the current Council, with the direction of the mayor"--that is, Mayor Rick Rector.

This morning, Hamilton sent Gossips a statement, intending it to be published as a comment on the post "The Controversy Over the Dog Park Continues." I, however, asked and received her permission to publish the statement not as a comment but as a post, because I thought it was important that what she had to say be widely read. (Full disclosure [if you haven't already deduced it]: I am an ardent supporter of a dog park in Hudson. I contributed to the first GoFundMe campaign, I created and contributed to the second campaign, and, with others who have knowledge of and experience with dog parks, I helped design the dog park proposed for Charles Williams Park.)

Tiffany Martin Hamilton's statement follows:
As I watch the video of this week's Council meeting and read the accounts of the dog park discussion here on Gossips and in the Register-Star, I am inspired to share some facts and some thoughts (which I can now, as a private citizen, do).
Near the end of last year, two days in a row, I visited Charles Williams Park at various times during the day. While seeing not one single child or adult using the park for its intended purposes, what I first observed was an unregistered vehicle illegally parked on the grass, in the park, behind one of the Mill Street homes. It turned out that the vehicle belonged to the occupant of the home behind which it was parked. After a couple days of observation, I returned yet again to witness two people dragging a box spring from the home nearest the still illegally parked (i.e., on City of Hudson park property) vehicle. What could they possibly be doing? I drove away and returned a short time later, when the mystery was solved. The box spring had an outline of a large animal drawn on it, and a man was shooting at it with a hunting bow. This persisted, even as I approached shortly thereafter accompanied by a police officer, who was there to address the illegally parked vehicle.
As I ponder the situation described above and, further, the comments by residents about nefarious activities (e.g., people involved in sexual acts and drug-related activity) occurring in the park, I am baffled by the fact that the safety of including a dog park in CWP is one of the primary concerns voiced by the opposition. Am I to gather, based on actual personal observations and experiences at CWP, that target practice with a hunting bow in a public park (which I'd guess--and I'm going out on a limb here--is illegal) is safe, provided the person practicing lives adjacent to the park? Wouldn't encouraging more people to use the park deter undesirable activity from occurring? Further, would the citizens of Hudson be comfortable with private vehicles parked for extended periods of time on the grass in the riverfront park?
My mind wanders deeper, and I find myself getting stuck on the assertion by the opposition that CWP is indeed often used. I have taken at least five Hudson residents to CWP in the past few years who said they never knew there was a playground there. How is this possible? A lovely little playground in a public park which cost well over $200K of grant funding to build is somehow unknown to residents--some of whom are parents--here in this two square mile town. My goodness. I can imagine how wonderful it would be if all the families in Hudson not only knew about but used that park! But then, given the comments I've heard and read, I wonder if that would be acceptable given the increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the introduction of strangers to this section of Mill Street.  
As for the questions regarding the social benefits to a community of a dog park and the suggestion that I share studies I've previously referenced, I offer the following as a small sampling:
Playground: "Benefits of Dog Parks in Communities"
Journalist's Resource: "How Cities May Benefit from Dog Parks"
Phys.Org: "Well-designed Dog Parks Offer Great Benefit"
Sadly, I must address the inflammatory insinuation that I had, as Mayor, a conflict of interest because I am both a dog owner and an advocate for a local dog park. I advocated for a dog park in Hudson long before I served as Mayor (and my efforts followed more than a decade of similar efforts by others in the community who always seemed to hit a brick wall despite the best intentions). I most often bring my dogs to open spaces outside of town where I am able to take long walks while they run free. While I prefer this and am able to do so because I have access to transportation, there are many dog owners in Hudson who would benefit greatly from a dog park they could walk to.
I will note that I am also a parent who a) is vigilant about my children's safety and b) often brings my children to parks and playgrounds. As a parent, I look at it as a major plus that I could keep a watchful eye on my children as they play at a playground while I run my dogs at a dog park.
I bought a house next to a preschool that, quite understandably, creates significant daytime traffic in Prison Alley. I live on a truck route, a stone's throw from the hospital, across the street from a private healthcare facility (which was, in 2008 when I moved in, the Social Security office). I knew these things in 2008 and coexist with these many uses, which have changed multiple times over the past decade. This is what I signed on for.
Do I think a dog park in Hudson is important? Absolutely. Have I or has anyone else been able to identify any other available, environmentally suitable, and amply sized green space within the City limits that can be used for a dog park? No. If there are suggestions for other locations, I recommend sharing these ideas with the new City administration. I am here to support the creation of a Hudson dog park and am eager to work in my unofficial capacity to make it happen in a way that benefits the community as a whole.


  1. Having witnessed the challenge at the Common Council the other night this is a solid rebuttal. Imho

  2. Amen, thanks Tiffany. I'd bet my last nickel that the root of the problem here is a newly-elected Supervisor with an extensive history of being an agitant.

  3. Bravo Tiffany. I have jogged and walked by that park many, many times over the last decade or more and have never seen anybody utilize that park. I wonder if those who are so against the dog park have ever visited one? I find they are clean and well organized. They are great social gatherings for both people and dogs. I have never had a bad experience at a dog park and I have been to many.

  4. We need a dog park and this is a good place for one. The playground is never used. Lighting is already installed there. Why not make it a utilized space, rather than a non-utilized space. Isn't that what we are paying taxes for? Parks are for people to enjoy.