Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bright Lights, Sad Park

Recently, Brian Herman, who owns 324 Warren Street, installed lighting on the east side of the building, which borders the pocket park at 326-328 Warren Street. The color of the light can be changed, as evidenced by these photographs. Last night, for example, the light was blue.

The new lighting draws renewed attention to the sad state of the little park, known to some as the PARC Park because it was created, on City-owned land, as a gift from the PARC Foundation. Fifteen or so years ago, the PARC Foundation (PARC is an acronym for Planning + Art Resources for Communities) had great plans to transform the north side of Hudson, what was then the Second and Fourth wards, but the linear park extending from Warren Street to State Street, of which this little park is the first stage, is the only part of the plan that was realized.

The park was completed late in the summer of 2007--a lovely little green oasis of modern design tucked into a streetscape of 19th-century buildings. A few days after the ribbon cutting, the stone fountain was tagged. Fortunately, the PARC Foundation, which then had a presence in Hudson, was maintaining the park at the time, and the graffito was promptly removed. 

The boxwood hedges that originally lined the front edge of the park and the ramp to Prison Alley suffered a different kind of abuse. A year or so after the hedge was planted, someone from DPW took a power trimmer to the lovely rounded nascent hedge and brutally squared it up, giving it the same shape exhibited by every bush and shrub in the city parks of Hudson, regardless of species.

In 2011, Gossips made an appeal for a "hedge fund" to restore the boxwood in the PARC Park. In 2014, the Mrs. Greenthumbs Day garden tour originally intended to solicit donations specifically for the restoration of the hedge, but it turned out that the PARC Foundation, in conjunction with completing the rest of the linear park, was going to "retouch" park on Warren Street, replacing the boxwood hedge with plantings they believed would be more salt resistant and would require less maintenance.

The new plantings were installed late in the summer of 2014, but, alas, a little more than three years later, they too are in sad shape. The following pictures were taken earlier this week.

Even more disturbing is the state of the plantings at the back of the park, along Prison Alley. Originally, there was a stand of ten trees, underplanted with hostas.

These trees were very important to the designers of the park because they screened from view 325 Columbia Street, which the folks from the PARC Foundation considered very poor design. Such was their distress over the proposed design for the building that they had commissioned renderings of two alternative designs--one that replicated a row of 19th-century buildings, the other a very modern building clad in copper--hoping the County might consider one of them instead of the ornamented big box that was built. Today, only five of the ten trees meant to screen the view survive. The others have been cut down and not replaced. Whether or not the hostas will reappear in the spring is unknown.

Sadly, the PARC Foundation will not be coming back to "retouch" the park a second time. The original agreement with the City was that they would retain "design control" of the park for ten years. That ten-year period was over in 2016, so we're on our own.


  1. Wow. If anything demonstrates the need for comprehensive park planning and private support for the City’s parks, it is this pathetic history.

  2. I thought such use of this kind of lighting was prohibited?

  3. 1. Such lighting is not prohibited.
    2. The lighting is fully controllable by means of a DMX controller. This means that in additional to color control, We can also individually control the brightness of the lighting as well. We installed the lighting to benefit the Linear Park area so it is more inviting and safer with better illumination, as well as to accent our building. We are revitalizing the street level space at the rear of 324 Warren Street (the building where the lights are affixed) . So far we have replaced the rotted out windows with (HPC) approved windows, and restored the masonry facade facing the Linear Park. We are in the process of renovating the interior of the first floor and hoping to find a commercial use for the space that benefits and is compatible with the area and encourage the community use of the Linear Park in positive ways. Any positive suggestions are appreciated.

    1. Don't get me wrong Brian, I'm all for the lights. It's just there is so much "can't do stuff" in the City Charter, like no neon signs, that I was just hoping to be enlightened...

  4. No offense taken Chad - you asked a legitimate question, and it warranted a response.