Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Future of Promenade Hill

On Tuesday, the DRI Committee heard presentations from three of the eight firms that had responded to the RFQ for the renovation and restoration of Promenade Hill. The three firms--Grain Collective, OSD, and Starr Whitehouse--had been identified through an evaluation process by the committee, which is made up of Mayor Rick Rector, Council president Tom DePietro, city attorney Andy Howard, city treasurer Heather Campbell, DPW superintendent Rob Perry, and Planning Board chair Walter Chatham, with Chazen planner Julie Pacatte. 

Each group made a thirty-minute presentation of their work and their vision for the project. When all the presentations had been made, and two members of the committee had already completed their evaluation sheets, Rob Perry commented, "I feel the third place one would be fine," implying that he though anyone of the three groups would do a good job. 

One group envisioned Promenade Hill as city center. Among their ideas were a "destination playground" that would draw children from around the region, a theater with step seating that integrated a sloped walk, turning the conference room at 1 North Front Street into an ice cream parlor (Charlie Davi would be vindicated), introducing "festive lights" to draw people to the park, and having a schedule of events in the park, examples given being concerts and movie nights.

Another group had a different grasp of Promenade Hill. They spoke of the ability to "walk from a very urban core to a place that can take your mind away" and acknowledged that Promenade Hill "captures one of the most magical parts of the Hudson Valley." Their vision was to "take some of the best of what is there and upgrade it" and described what might be possible for universal access to the vista as a "ramble garden."

The third group spoke of "sensitivity to place" and what was "the original design intent." They acknowledged that, on a recent Saturday night, there were people on Promenade Hill "just watching the sunset." They spoke of "ways of taking 1970s landscapes and reconnecting them to history" and showed examples of how they had done this in New York City--in Greenwich Village and Central Park.

The committee will score the three firms and select one at their next meeting, on Tuesday, July 30, at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall. The goal is to enter into a contract with the chosen firm by September. Whichever firm is chosen, the path forward involves community engagement--in workshops, public design forums and mobile engagement on-site, or other community engagement sessions.


  1. There should be an effort by our local government to get the power lines out of that vista. It happens all the time in Scandinavia, they run the lines underwater. All it requires is political will.

    1. ...and substantial investment amongst competing priorities on a limited budget.

    2. At the time of the transmission line proposals in 2013, it was only Peter and I who made inquiries about burying the lines now suspended above the river. I won’t speak for Peter, but that's the context in which I understood his call for the necessary "political will."

      When I phoned the Director of Development for NextEra Energy in Juno Beach, Florida, I learned that it was still the company's intention to evaluate both aerial and underground/submarine crossings, but that they were surprised at the general lack of interest hereabouts for hiding the lines.

      Political will must begin somewhere.

  2. Article I of the Charter states that the City of Hudson "may take by gift [or] grant … and hold real and personal property in trust … upon such terms as may be prescribed by the grantor or donor ..." (§C1-2).

    When the Proprietors granted Parade Hill to the Common Council their wishes couldn't have been clearer. The land grant was "for the purpose of a Public Walk or Mall and for no other purpose whatever."

    By obliging the city to honor the wishes of grantors "upon such terms as may be prescribed," the Charter binds past and present in a manner too subtle for today's thinking.

    We should trust that the Proprietors had a purpose, and in so doing honor our local laws.

    "People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors" - Edmund Burke.

  3. Half of the Promenade is in the second ward, where the historical use is simply "repurposed" to accommodate new uses.

    1. Maybe a tram to connect the tourist in Athens with the tourist in Hudson.

  4. Since the old, peeling and rusting-as-we-speak fence will likely not be removed as part of any changes at the park, CAN WE PLEASE GET IT PAINTED THIS YEAR?!!!!

  5. "The third group spoke of "sensitivity to place" and what was "the original design intent."

    P L E A S E