Thursday, June 25, 2015

About Promenade Hill

Most of the people who filled the room for the meeting about Promenade Hill yesterday afternoon expected to see some kind of plan for proposed improvements to Hudson's 220-year-old park, but nothing was presented that hasn't been seen before: an aerial photograph indicating the "Area of Detail" and two possible configurations for a handicapped ramp.

When the two ramp options were shown to the Common Council Economic Development Committee back in February, Option 1 seemed to be the favorite, but that was before the two options were submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office for a recommendation. In an email to Bill Roehr of TGW Consultants, Stacey Matson-Zuvic, historic site restoration coordinator for SHPO, stated: "Based on a preliminary review of the materials submitted it is our recommendation that Option 2--New Ramp & Retaining Walls[,] Reconfigured Planting Area[,] Existing Stairs to Remain is the most appropriate as it retains the existing main entry stairs into the park, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing property in the Hudson Historic District."

At the beginning of yesterday's meeting, Roehr's colleague John "Duke" Duchessi explained that the grant being sought this year "has to do with the City wanting to make Promenade Hill handicapped accessible." He acknowledged that planning for the project had not proceeded beyond the two concepts for a ramp, which had been proposed months ago, "because we wanted to have this meeting first." The purpose of the meeting was "to get ideas for the whole entrance to the park," and Duchessi started out by asking audience members to identify its shortcomings.

Too much asphalt, too much impervious surface, too many brick retaining walls that create barriers were the shortcomings immediately identified. Rick Rector, First Ward alderman and chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, suggested that the entrance to Promenade Hill needed "trees, benches, pots of flowers" to make it more inviting. Sarah Sterling, First Ward supervisor, thought there needed to be music performance space and remarked that the area was not "group friendly."

Tiffany Garriga, Second Ward alderman, suggested that there be "more equipment for the children," explaining that the playground that exists is for children of a certain age and "older kids just sit around." When Kitty Mackey, a resident of the Second Ward, expressed the opinion that a children's park should be closer to the riverfront, and this space should just be a passive park, Garriga asked Mackey if she had something against children.

Peter Frank offered a suggestion that was well received. He said that the steps leading up to Promenade Hill needed to be wider "to reflect the Warren Street axis" and "continue the vista down Warren Street." Rector agreed. "In a city with the name Hudson, you expect to see the Hudson River," he commented. Making the entrance to Promenade Hill feel more like a continuation of Warren Street (which, of course, historically it was) would strengthen the connection with the river.

Mention of trees and flowers and plantings raised the question of who would take care of them. "There's no garden club or anything in this town," lamented Pamela Kungle. Frank advised that the design be "low maintenance," suggesting that there was a "horticultural solution" to the problem of care and maintenance.

According to Duchessi, a conceptual design, which most people expected to see yesterday, "with numbers attached," will be presented at the next meeting. That meeting was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, July 8, but that may change. Duchessi indicated that the maximum amount for the grant is $250,000--requiring a 25 percent ($62,500) match from the City--but the "sweet spot," he said, is not applying for the maximum. He stressed that the conceptual design used for the grant application may not be the design that is actually executed. The grant application is due at the end of July.

It should be remembered that if the application is not successful and the project is not funded, the Common Council passed a resolution in November 2014 to spend $20,000 to install a "temporary ramp" at Promenade Hill. The nature and appearance of this ramp is unknown, but there's a chance it could resemble the ramp in the picture above.


  1. Ah yes, let the City of Hudson spend yet more money for a temporary patch in the dike while the Common Council plods backwards with indecision. Kind of like the penalty that the City absorbed to the tune of I believe $5000 per month for the police station purchase, again due to inaction. A preserved historical step entrance to the park should be preserved and "equipment for children" should not be in plain site but indeed set back both for the noise and the probability that anything up to date will be cartoon colorful and plastic, not in keeping with the historical nature of the park.

  2. No mention of turning St Winifred back into a fountain pool ... historically speaking.

    1. Promenade Hill itself--where Winifred is located--is not part of the current discussion. Only the entrance to the park.

    2. Although the grant-writer did mention the potential for the upper level being included in a Phase II plan.

      Bad idea.

    3. Trump could tuck a three story riverfront casino below without obstructing the view.

      Where are the visionary entrepreneurs like Irv Price or Craig Thorn III?