Saturday, May 28, 2022

Where Are the Blocks?

It's Memorial Day Weekend, and, after witnessing lengthy discussions about Warren Street Shared Usage 2022 in the Common Council Tourism & Events Committee and reporting on the recommendations the committee made to the mayor's office, Gossips expected to see the Department of Public Works out Thursday and yesterday positioning the cement blocks for outdoor dining in the parking lanes on Warren Street. That didn't happen.

An article in the Register-Star today explains why: "Street barriers will return June 20." It appears from the article that the mayor's office couldn't simply accept the carefully considered recommendations of the Tourism & Events Committee but found it necessary to rethink the whole situation, including researching and debating what constitutes a restaurant having its own outdoor space. 


  1. Who this year will keep an account of all the accidents, scrapes, dents, etc that these ugly things will cause to cars?

  2. The fact that this story gets reported as being about “concrete blocks” and “street barriers” only confirms, for me, the power of the status quo, the dominance of car culture, and the amount of time the Mayor spends on Facebook.

    If I were editor, I would have gone with a more affirmative headline: "Outdoor dining to return to Warren Street.”

    This would a story about a small town with very real big city challenges whose economy depends upon the resilience of its small business owners.

    It would tell the story of how the Mayor’s office, the Tourism Committee, and the Hudson Business Coalition collaborated to develop a streetspace plan for outdoor dining for restaurants, play streets for children, and an outdoor venue for community organizations and artists.

  3. According to the RS article, Craig Haigh, CEO manager, said businesses currently can utilize outdoor seating "as long as 2 feet of sidewalk is available for pedestrians to pass by." 2 feet! Do you ever wonder why Hudson's sidewalks continue to be so dangerous and ignored by City Hall? Could it be that City Hall feels that 2 feet of sidewalk is ample space for all pedestrians, even the disabled, to utilize safely and easily, no matter what sidewalk? I'm thinking that's a big part of the problem. It's called acting like pedestrians don't exist.

    1. Craig Haigh has texted this clarification. Apparently Noah Eckstein misunderstood what Haigh told him and reported the information incorrectly, inspiring the above comment.

      I told the reporter that the only code regarding the use of the sidewalk is that they maintain a 4 foot clear open space in front of their property and must maintain a 2 foot clear space from the curb. He reported incorrect [information] in the article. He said they can use 4 feet of sidewalk and leave a 2 foot space. Which is not what I said.

  4. The story is about the blocks because, in a city obsessed with and grounded in design, Brutalist street furniture continues to be used to define public spaces in the face of constant and continuous public rejection of the blocks. And the story can’t be about “play streets,” etc. because it’s not about that: it’s about extra space for food service businesses at the expense of all other businesses and access to them. The fact that overwhelming public opinion doesn’t sway you those who insist this policy is “good” for “us” smacks of a very “eat your peas” style of elitism.

    1. Thank you for the helpful explanation, John.

      I confess I did stray into fiction there for a moment, imagining what Hudson might be like if there were someone whose job it was to imagine and plan creative solutions for these placemaking challenges.

      What is your solution?

    2. Personally, I’m happy to see Warren closed to traffic entirely. But the firehouse. But the handicapped. So. Planning. You champion a half-solution which embodies only the negatives of pedestrian living it seems to me. All or nothing. But “all” requires rationalizing traffic throughout the city. And, unfortunately, both the mayor and council president are incapable and bone-lazy. So my solution is get rid of our broken form of government, get some actual leadership that’s both energetic and capable. Then start the process.

  5. whether you like it or not, the 289 million vehicles registered in America very much confirms that it is the Car Culture and probably will be for the next 2 or 3 generations.

    I think the point of the article is that the City just cannot quite get to doing anything "concrete" and on time. Ever.

    1. Thank you, j kay.
      Egads. That is a lot of cars.

      Did you know there are four parking spots for each of those cars?
      That’s a billion parking spots in a country of 332 million people.

      Car culture is the dominant way of living in America.
      But, it is not the only one.

      Here’s my agenda.
      I want more people to experience the Winter’s Walk feeling more often.
      I think it would make us happier and kinder.
      I mean this sincerely, and with absolute naïveté.

      What would have to be true for us to invest some of our precious street space to projects that brought us closer together?

  6. Ithaca and Burlington have vibrant downtown car-free business districts. It's possible. But given all the side roads off of Warren, closing even a few blocks of it to traffic for good by creating a "commons" might be impossible, actually. Plus, we'd need a LARGE parking garage not too far to away. Not in our lifetimes. Let's try to fix the sidewalks first, can we? Surely that is POSSIBLE!