Last night at the Common Council meeting, James Ribaudo of Arterial made a forty-minute presentation of the new street designs being proposed for the BRIDGE District. This project, sometimes known as the Connectivity Project, is being funded by slightly more than $4 million of the City's $10 million in DRI money.
Ribaudo defined three goals of the project: (1) celebrate the historic integrity of Hudson; (2) make the streets safe for all; (3) reconnect to the waterfront. Relevant to the first goal, Ribaudo introduced the materials palette, consisting of granite setts, granite pavers, concrete tinted and scored to look like granite, and engraved granite bands "at specific key spots."
In contrast to the "simple, timeless materials" that "do not compete with the historic architecture that is so rich in Hudson," the furniture palette being proposed is modern, to acknowledge that "Hudson is also a modern city."
Ribaudo spoke of "pulling features" of Promenade Hill "out to the street." Part of that effort is the row of boulders separating the street from the shared-use path and the sidewalk, reminiscent of what has been thought of by some in the past as the Colarusso School of landscape design. He also spoke of "pockets of green to pull the park across the street."
What seems problematic about this particular design is that it perpetuates the "existing little pocket park" on the northeast corner of Warren and First, which came into existence during urban renewal. In the summer of 2018, the City and HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) did a land swap. The City got the lot in the 200 block of Warren Street where Thurston Park is located; HCDPA got the portion of this lot at the corner of Warren and Front that it didn't already own. The idea was to construct a building (or buildings) there to replace the buildings that had been there prior to urban renewal, thus completing the street wall and also increasing the city's available housing stock. The photograph below shows what the row of buildings at the end of Warren Street once was like.
Also troubling was the absence of any mention of the Second Street stairs. Once a DRI project on its own, the Second Street stairs got rolled into the larger connectivity project early on. In the past, Gossips has voiced concern how this slick rendering of the stairs reimagined to provide universal access, which appeared in DRI documents, would translate into reality.
The grade difference between Cross Street and Allen Street is not insignificant, and designing an integrated ramp and stair for this site seems a monumental challenge, one that Arterial appears not to have addressed at all. Can it be the idea has been abandoned?
When the presentation was complete last night, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) said she was impressed with the samples that were shown. She also said she wanted bus shelters and worried about "people getting stuck in the cracks in the granite pavers." Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) declared the plans "beautiful," adding, "It's very exciting." She expressed the desire for stop signs on Union Street at First Street. Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) called it a "great presentation" and then asked about signal boxes at crosswalks.
Ribaudo said they would be collecting further feedback, but it wasn't clear if that feedback was to come from the public or only from the Common Council. If from the public, no means of providing that feedback was given. There will be another presentation to the Common Council on January 11, and the final plan is expected to be ready by the end of January.
The entire presentation can be seen on YouTube. Click here to access the Zoom recording of last night's Common Council meeting. The presentation begins at 5:08 and ends at 46:10.
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