Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Ramp of Least Resistance

Gossips reported on this more than a week ago, but today there's a story by John Mason in the Register-Star about the controversial ramp to be built at Promenade Hill: "'Temporary' ramp will give access to Promenade Hill." Although no one knows what the ramp will look like and if and how much it will deface the entrance to Promenade Hill, the Common Council last Tuesday passed a resolution, with only two dissenting votes, to move ahead with the construction, and the the mayor promptly signed it.

According to Mason's report, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), one of the two opponents of the ramp as proposed, in an interview, made a suggestion that was made two years ago: that the City negotiate with Evergreen Partners to allow Promenade Hill to be accessed through a gate in the fence that separates the park from Hudson Terrace, thus eliminating the need for a ramp. "Anything's better than anything ugly," said Friedman. "A good deal of our economy is built on the fact that our architecture is pleasing. To build something unpleasing would be a mistake; we need to be more creative and not doctrinaire."

Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward), who cast the other dissenting vote on the ramp, after stressing that he supported the need for a ramp, was quoted as saying, "Promenade Hill is the gateway to the Hudson River, it's also one of our most revered historic sites and it's within a historic district. I would like to see a well-thought-out plan for a ramp as part of a long-term plan for Promenade Hill that addresses safety, ADA compliance and all the aesthetics in keeping with a ramp in an historic district."

Meanwhile, the only person who has any real notion of what the ramp will look like, DPW superintendent Rob Perry seems eager to distance himself from any responsibility for the aesthetics of the ramp. Mason quotes him as saying, "When I presented it [to the council, in 2014] I told them it's not a pretty ramp, it's a functional ramp. It gets wheelchair bound individuals from one elevation to another elevation. It's basically a glorified deck. It will have elevation changes with appropriate inclines. It's functional and it's only functional."

In truth, Perry never presented the plan for the ramp to the Common Council; he presented it to the Public Works Committee, on May 28, 2014. At that meeting, then Council president Don Moore asked Perry why he had created such a plan, when the City was working on a grant application to fund design improvements to the entrance to Promenade Hill which would include a handicapped ramp. Perry explained that he had been pressured by Second Ward aldermen Tiffany Garriga and Abdus Miah to come up with the plan, and he did so to appease them. Now, it seems we may be stuck with it, although there's already been a comment on Gossips noting that the proposed handicapped ramp, ironically, does not meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements.


  1. Headline of the Year, Carole! And it sums up nicely what has happened here. This would be a great time for our new Mayor to step up to the plate and show us that we can honor both the aesthetic and the expedient. Please!

  2. I was going to say the same thing: a prize-winning headline.

    Thank you to Aldermen Friedman and Rector for wanting to consider alternatives. What a great idea to approach Evergreen Partners, who've benefited so tremendously in and from the City of Hudson. (If memory serves, they're headquartered in South Portland, Maine.)

    It seems that only future generations will really understand what we have in the Promenade, originally known as Parade Hill. Formally established in 1895, it's really a rare monument to a stage in the evolution of human perception. The Promenade is really a very big thing, which will be celebrated someday in a way which we can't yet appreciate. It's worthy of a doctoral thesis, or at least supportive of a doctoral thesis on the history of perception.

    Also, I never knew that mere Aldermen were able to "pressure" the DPW Superintendent - if that's really the right word. Perhaps the Aldermen should pressure the DPW on some other things too.