Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Plan for the "Lower Promenade"

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. 

In addition to the survey, which received eighty-five responses, there was also targeted Zoom outreach to a parents group, Camphill Hudson, and DPW. Gail Wittwer-Laird of Starr Whitehouse reported there was a slight preference for The Meander, but it was pretty close, so they combined the elements people liked best from both concepts--amphitheater seating, plantings and trees, open lawn, a plaza free of tables and chairs--to create a final design, which is a hybrid of the two.

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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I deleted my previous comment, acting rude should not beget the same. My point was that one alderperson does not and should not have any more of a say in what goes on in Hudson than any other. One in particular feels it's okay to threaten and bully the other council members to get her way and someone needs to stop this behavior. Problem is none of the others are as vocal as she and in Hudson usually the loudest voice wins. Promenade Hill is for everyone in Hudson and I think the architects have done a great job building consensus for the design. Because one person thinks otherwise should not stop the process for moving forward.

  3. Funky Hudson, are you willing to identify yourself or are you only willing to attack members of our community from behind the veil of anonymity?

  4. This is a public park for the use and enjoyment of everyone in Hudson - both residents and visitors. It is not an extension of the Hudson Terrace apartments. I do not understand Ms. Garriga's objections. "Exploring and running around" is very healthy play activity for young children. The riverfront park offers picnic tables etc. that can be reserved for get togethers. I fail to see how a well designed pubic space that is accessible to all in Hudson is a "fantasy" place for tourists.

  5. I just hope that the crumbling and poorly patched RED concrete at the entrance is replaced with RED concrete. Not white, not black, but classy and funky RED. It likely won't happen, but it should.

  6. Right now there are nightly pot and open container parties in the Chamber parking lot and the lot on the other side of the park, to the extent that the entry to the park is made through clouds of pot smoke, and the kids play area is full of trash that is thrown on the ground when a garbage can is right there a few feet away. So to modify the design to make it more "people friendly" and encourage more of that behavior is a really bad idea.
    Environment effects behavior, beautifying and creating order and civility in the park benefits everyone.

    1. My own comments on the two designs were entirely about minimizing opportunities for antisocial behavior and crime.

      If dead spaces invite such hazards, then is it a good or bad idea to close the park's southeast entrance at Front Street? That corner already wants to be a hang-out, which is fine as long as it's a thorougfare.

      To lessen the bad behavior we already see in and around the park, shouldn't we aim for maximum circulation everywhere?

      After all, the Proprietors dedicated Parade Hill for one purpose "and for no other purpose whatever," as a walking mall.

    2. Thank you unheimlich
      I trust all is well with you.

  7. If people want picnic tables and grills, the perfect place for that would be down at the North Bay, that is still occupied by rotting shacks, broken glass and rusted metal. It is a testimony to the total ineptitude of the City Council and Alderpersons responsible for that property that those shacks are still there rotting after spending all the taxpayers money on lawyers to take possession of it. A couple of backhoes and some dumpsters could clean that up and make it into a park in a few days.