An unanticipated and large part of Tuesday's informal Common Council meeting was a presentation by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects, the firm planning the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funded redesign of the entrance to Promenade Hill, Hudson's 225-year-old park overlooking the river.
In August, Starr Whitehouse presented two design concepts--The Meander and The Terrace--and asked the public to share their thoughts about the two concepts in an online survey.
Speaking of the final design, Wittwer-Laird said that, in addition to providing universal access to Promenade Hill, the goals of the design were to reinforce the relationship between Warren Street and Promenade Hill, to make the space as family friendly as possible, to prioritize ease of maintenance, and to celebrate the "upper promenade" as much as possible. She said they were looking for approval of the final design concept so they can begin work on the construction documents. She also spoke of the importance of having consensus on the final concept, although how consensus is to be reached was not explained.
Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) commented, "People want picnic tables." She also spoke of a model whale for the spray shower, which is to be relocated next to the existing play area. She said of the design, "I don't see anything that is kid friendly." She insisted, "I want the park to be welcoming and friendly for residents of Hudson Terrace not just a fantasy place for tourists." She also suggested there should be some exercise equipment in the park.
Chris Anderson of Starr Whitehouse spoke of the opportunities throughout the park for exploration and discovery, mentioning in particular the rock outcroppings. He spoke of "getting rid of some of the strictly defined uses." Garriga replied, "Exploring and running around--that's what the kids do now. We want to give them something to do in the park not just run around and scrape their knees in the rocks."
Garriga expressed the desire to have the ramp completed before the rest of the improvements to the park and said she wanted Promenade Hill to be accessible during construction. Wittwer-Laird indicated that neither was likely to be possible. Rebecca Borrer defined the uses of the park as family gatherings and protests, at which time an unidentified voice asked, "Gonna have grills down there?"
It was revealed during the meeting that Mayor Kamal Johnson wants the redevelopment of the "Lower Promenade," as Starr Whitehouse is calling it, to be completed in time for Winter Walk 2021.
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