Friday, February 4, 2022

On Creating a Parks Department

Creating a Parks Department in Hudson was a topic of discussion at the Conservation Advisory Council meeting on Tuesday evening--both how to fund it and how to form it. CAC member Britt Zuckerman reported that both Kingston and Troy have budgets of $1.1 million for their parks departments. Beacon budgets $215,960 for parks, which does not include the salary for a department superintendent. (Beacon has a population of 13,634, more than twice that of Hudson.) At the January informal meeting of the Common Council, Superintendent of Public Works Rob Perry reported that about $145,000 in the city budget is currently allocated for the care and keeping of city parks.

Zuckerman outlined a possible scope of work for the Parks Department:
  • Maintain all grounds/mowing/leaf litter
  • Arborist/tree maintenance
  • New tree plantings
  • New shrub and perennial plantings
  • Maintenance of site furnishings/replacement and repairs
  • Maintenance of hardscape within parks (pavement)
  • Street trees/planting and pruning
  • Playgrounds and play fields/sport courts--equipment replacement, safety surfacing and repairs
  • Oakdale Lake/Cemetery/7th Street Park, Henry Hudson Park, Promenade Hill/various pocket parks/ Dog Park ?
  • Water features/splash pads
  • Long term visioning for sustainability within Hudson and open space
[Note: Since Zuckerman put a question mark after "Dog Park" in her scope of work outline, Gossips will clarify. The Hudson Dog Park is unique among city parks in that it is the product of a public/private partnership. It is located on land owned by the City of Hudson, but it was created with private funds. The Department of Public Works mows the lawn, hauls away the trash, and plows the driveway and parking lot in winter, but all other maintenance, improvements, and repairs to the dog park are carried out with funds raised by the folks who use the dog park.] 

Zuckerman's outline also included a list of the crew a Parks Department would ideally have:
  • Horticulture or arborist trained staff
  • Landscapers
  • 1 to 2 full-time staff year round
  • Parks Department Commissioner
  • Seasonal part-time hourly workers (3 to 4, May to Sept)
In discussing how a Parks Department could be created, it was asked if creating a new city department required a referendum. CAC member Rich Volo noted that a new department devoted to senior services was recently created without a referendum. 

CAC chair Hilary Hillman asked if there might be a way to grow the Parks Department gradually. Zuckerman acknowledged that such a department could be phased in, but funding and trained and skilled staff would be essential to its success. "We need support from the Common Council and the mayor," she said, adding that Perry seemed willing to have someone take things off his plate. Zuckerman spoke of the need to have someone who can "vision the future of the Parks Department." CAC member Marie Balle suggested there could be a Commissioner of Parks, "who can work alongside Rob Perry." DePietro concluded, "You have to have Rob Perry explain what could be carved out and how it could be carved out. You need to start the conversation with Rob."

A Parks Department for Hudson may well be an idea whose time has finally come.


  1. It is of no surprise to me that Rob Perry, Jr. was not at the meeting to help move things along in the right direction from the get go, you know, answer a question or three and perhaps offer some insights. He shouldn't have had to be asked to attend - he is well aware of the talk and effort to create a Parks Department and was, or should have been, aware of this meeting. This is an indication of how little help he will be to make this happen and succeed. At a salary of over $100,000, you'd expect at least a little interest, help and effort on his part, instead of just "You want the parks? Here are the keys," as he said at a meeting 2 months ago when asked about this idea. Yet he didn't bother to show up for the first meeting, not even to dangle the keys in front of the CAC. Of course, he didn't have to show up and offer his help. He's not so interested in improving our parks as just getting rid of the responsibility of maintaining them. This is obvious, and will hinder a new Parks Department's progress, if it ever gets off the ground.
    Glad to see the CAC is stepping up to this, as it is long overdue.

    Bill Huston

  2. What is the specific problem the creation of this department aims to solve, and what other options have been exhausted?