Monday, October 15, 2018

The Future for Oakdale Lake

The first public workshop to be held as part of the Hudson Valley Initiative project to revitalize Oakdale Lake and the surrounding park took place on Saturday. The workshop was well attended--all the usual suspects as well as many newer faces--and there was no shortage of ideas and aspirations for what the park should be. The challenge for the planners from the Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning at Columbia University will be to balance all the diverse community interests in what is, after all, a relatively small space.

To approach the visioning task, the group was asked to divide up among three tables, representing three uses of the park: Youth Infrastructure, Nature Preserve, and Public Park. After an hour of discussion and conceptualizing, each table reported what they'd come up with. Here's what was on each group's list:

  • Bigger and better skate park
  • Bike racks
  • Dog park
  • Bigger pavilion and more covered spaces
  • Kiddie pool (there used to be one)
  • Designated fishing area
  • Bathrooms
  • Ice skating on the lake in winter
  • Improved playground
  • Path that is not slippery and dangerous
  • Walkable and safe trail around the lake
  • Connection to Harlem Valley Rail Trail and Empire State Trail
  • Observation platform for kids to study nature
  • Inventory of the trees in the park
  • Appreciation of birds that visit the park
  • Keeping park natural, not a "huge man-made environment"
  • Ice skating on the lake in winter
  • Fishing piers
  • Dog park
  • Greater accessibility to different people
  • New playground--exploration zone made of natural materials
  • Shade structures
  • Improved trail
  • Art installations
  • Improved access points
  • More swimming access points
  • Nature or science area around the ponds
  • Natural water fountain from the spring
  • Park as a focal point for the community, where people of different ages come together
  • Small beer garden or cafe (for people who want to have a picnic but don't want to bring their own food)
  • Small outdoor theater (there is a natural amphitheater)
  • Expand park to Spring Street
The Youth Infrastructure group and the Public Park group had a few ideas for the park in common: ice skating, fishing piers, a dog park, more structures providing shade and protection from rain, a better playground. Some of the Public Park group's ideas seem to run counter to the Nature Preserve group's desire to keep the park natural. There was one thing that everyone agreed on: improving the trail around the lake to make it more walkable and safe.

Another meeting is planned, after the folks from Hudson Valley Initiative have had a chance to digest the public input and come up with some concepts. The next meeting is expected to happen in November, toward the middle or the end of the month.


  1. Yes, there are many things that need improving at Oakdale, but it seems that one stands out: a safe, walkable trail around the entire lake. One section of the "trail" in the back is quite dangerous (full of exposed roots) and essentially unwalkable by anyone not too steady on their feet -- even for someone as nimble as myself it is treacherous. I fear that the long list of wants (cafe? really?) will take up too much time, consideration, studied to death, etc and go nowhere, and there will continue to be a less-than-walkable (at points) trail for many years to come. One thing at a time. But who decides what needs to be done?

  2. My thanks to Carole for this wonderful report and to the Columbia team for taking this project on. Oakdale is such a great resource for Hudson and, combined with the adjacent park and forest lands, it is a gem. But we will soon run into the immoveable object of Hudson: bad governance. Can it get done? How? On the one hand you have all this wonderful creative energy running into slovenly governance systems, with little leadership, and things grind to a halt in the morass of the bureaucracy. On the other hand is the sophisticated marketing wing of change (vis: Fair & Equal), which steamrolls over the dumb bureaucracy and sidestep community engagement and gets it done... I'd like to think we can have it both ways: smart people engaging THE PEOPLE. --peter meyer

  3. Like minded citizens working to promote the "free and easy" use of the (people's) land beneath navigable water...

    One law for the favorite at court, another for the county man with rod and steel.