Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"What Fresh Hell Can This Be?"

According to legend, Dorothy Parker used to answer the doorbell with this line. For a preservation advocate in Hudson, it's a question that often springs to mind unbidden while strolling or driving about the city. Here's what inspired it today.

Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) has taken on the task of getting the sprinkler at the entrance to Promenade Hill working again. That's a good and admirable thing. Once upon a time, there were sprinklers like this in all the city playgrounds, and there were once five such playgrounds. The sprinkler at Promenade Hill was created during Urban Renewal to compensate for the loss of the sprinkler--indeed for the entire playground--at Franklin Square, down at the corner of South Front and Ferry streets.

Along with the restoring the sprinkler, Garriga also proposed a mural, and work on that is now beginning by painting the brick retaining wall white. But on whose authority is this being done?

Promenade Hill and the area leading up to it are part of a historic district--a National Register-listed and locally designated historic district. The proposal to paint a mural on a brick retaining wall should have come before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness, and, because this is a public space belonging to everyone in the city and leading to our most historic park, the approval process should have involved a public hearing. None of this happened.

This year, in the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process, the City of Hudson is seeking a grant to redesign the approach to the park to incorporate a handicapped ramp and to make this area a more suitable gateway, in terms of design and aesthetics, to the historic park beyond--one of the most treasured gems of Hudson. The plans for this redesign are to be presented to the public next Wednesday, June 24, at 3 p.m., at 1 North Front Street. One wonders if the mural now underway was factored into the redesign.


  1. Alderwoman Garriga described her plans for the mural to me. I said that people will be wanting to review the plans and that there is, no doubt, a specific process to be followed. She assured me that all the appropriate reviews would be conducted. So, who if anyone has reviewed this?

  2. If a mural is wanted, (and that is the first question to be asked) it seems to me it would be easier to create it indoors on either canvas or board and then mount it in some fashion on the wall, and treat it like a temporary piece of art, rather than to paint on the wall directly. That way, when a more comprehensive plan for the entrance to the park is designed, it could be moved, if necessary. .

    This is yet another example of the City needing an art commission to set regulations on placement of art pieces on public property. It is not just a matter of aesthetics, but also of safety. (Remember when someone wanted to place a participatory art project resulting in a tall sculpture made out of recycled materials in Riverfront Park? It could have easily fallen over and injured someone, to say nothing about becoming a blight as it deteriorated.

  3. Alderwoman Garriga has some answering to do, and perhaps make a large investment in paint stripper.