Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Controversy Over the Dog Park Continues

At Monday night's informal meeting, the Common Council received as a communication Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton's veto of the resolution objecting to building a dog park in Charles Williams Park. At the end of the meeting, when Council president Tom DePietro entertained comments from the audience, Lakia Walker, who seems to be the designated spokesperson for the residents of Mill Street, rose to share her response to the mayor's veto.

Walker wanted to know where and when the study of potential sites had been done and where the information or report from the study was available. She also wanted to know with whom the mayor had consulted and why no one from Mill Street was among those consulted. She noted that the original GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the dog park had been created by Tiffany Martin Hamilton and alleged that it was a conflict of interest, suggesting that Hamilton wanted to build a dog park "for her own personal use," ignoring the fact that the first GoFundMe campaign was initiated in June 2014, eighteen months before Hamilton became the mayor of Hudson.

Walker also took issue with the notion that Charles Williams Park was underutilized. She shared her opinion that riverfront park and other Hudson parks are underutilized and claimed that Charles Williams Park was regularly utilized. She said that when she moved to Mill Street ten years ago, she was concerned that a dog park was part of the plan for the adjacent park and was told that the plans for the park were not "written in stone." She insisted that the City find a better location for the dog park, declaring, "No one on that street wants the dog park there."

Walker's protest was countered by Verity Smith, who agreed that it was wrong for the residents of Mill Street not to have had a voice in deciding the location, but went on to say, "The dog park shouldn't not be there just because a few families don't want it." Smith argued that parks--including dog parks--are a community good and predicted, "We're not all going to be happy with the outcome."

Responding to Walker, DePietro noted that the mayor who had vetoed the resolution was no longer the mayor and stated, "The entire issue will be revisited by the Council and the [new] mayor."


  1. This past summer, the Conservation Advisory Council conducted a public opinion survey about Hudson's parks and open spaces. (This may be the first and only time such a survey has been done.) One of the questions asked was how often respondents visit the city's various parks. Charles Williams park, by far, had more people answer "rarely or never." You can examine the results of the survey here:

  2. I have nothing interesting to say about dog parks (other than it is good to have one), but it's worth noting that residents of Mill Street had their patience tried by the City on at least two occasions last year.

    The first was due to their own inattention, a lapse they may now be making up for. Area residents were the last to learn that a fermentation plant had moved next door, then regretted their missed opportunity to comment on the proposal before the Planning Board. (This is not to imply that the plant will become malodorous for the neighborhood, but that any new use would excite alarm following residents' previous helplessness when the same building, pre-COARC, sported a loud compressor which clicked on-and-off, day-after-day, for years.

    Mill Street residents' second disappointment last year concerns the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC). This time, residents who were signatories of a petition were proactive with their concerns. The petition asked that the CAC "exercise prudence by not drawing undo attention to the City's only residential neighborhoods potentially impacted by climate-induced sea-level rise."

    Mill Street residents knew something the supposedly empirically-based CAC did not: that according to the worst-case scenarios for sea-level rise from the most extreme projection model available (called ClimAID), not a single additional household on Mill Street would be affected by the year 2100 which was not already implicated by the 1989 FEMA flood zones. So what is the reason to draw negative attention to residents' investments over what is, admittedly, very old news?

    Despite their proactivity this time, residents discovered that the CAC would suppress their concerns and aggressively exclude their participation. For two successive monthly meetings of the CAC, Chairman Lerner refused to recognize the petition or to allow the issue to be discussed as an Agenda item.

    It was laughable when the self-important hacks on the CAC failed to grasp what residents easily understood: that by allowing a discussion on behalf of concerned homeowners - and even if the CAC adopted their arguments - the CAC members were in no way undermining their faith-based fealty to ClimAID's extremism. For the sake of argument, the petition had wholly accepted the absolute, worst-case scenario as its premise.

    The advisability of dog parks notwithstanding, considering these recent experiences of Mill Street residents (the first example self-caused; the second a shining example of the City's abuse of power), it's no wonder that Mill Street has formed a pact against the next perceived threat to their interests.

    In some ways it might not matter what it is they're fighting, as long as they're finally experiencing some degree of self-determination.