It appears that the controversial concrete blocks will be coming back to Warren Street (and maybe some adjourning streets) this summer, but the schedule and details of the return are still to be determined.
At yesterday's meeting of Common Council Tourism & Events Committee, Alex Petraglia of the Hudson Business Coalition (HBCi) outlined a proposed program for Warren Street Shared Usage 2022, developed based on his conversations with business owners. The following is quoted from that proposed program:
- The program will run from Memorial Day weekend through the beginning of November
- The concrete blocks and planters will return, for any and all dining and drinking establishments that wish to participate . . .
- The program is open to any dining/drinking establishments, on or off Warren St
- Each business can be allocated up to two contiguous non-handicap parking spaces immediately in front of their place of business . . .
- The setup would be installed by Department of Public Works (DPW) for Memorial Day weekend, and removed in early November . . .
- We are working to secure a grant to help cover the hard costs for aesthetic and safety improvements to the blocks, fixing the planters and stocking them with plants, covering the fees that would otherwise be incurred to the businesses in lieu of lost parking revenue, and ideally some money for marketing the program
- With that said, we may ask businesses to pay a fee to help offset the costs associated with the program, again, depending upon how much we raise from grants
- All businesses are required to manage the upkeep of their areas for appearances, sanitation, etc.--water plants, remove garbage and debris, remove impediments in and around, etc.
|Photo: JD Urban | HBCi
Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), who chairs the committee, noted that wheelchair ramps can be purchased and suggested that businesses participating in the program be required to provide one for access from sidewalk to street level. He also expressed the opinion that one parking space should be sufficient for most businesses and no businesses that have the capability for outdoor dining be allowed to participate in the program. He said he thought businesses "can very easily pay the full value of the parking for the spot." The forgone parking revenue has been calculated to be $42 a week for each parking space. Councilmember Art Frick (First Ward) agreed that restaurants should pay for the lost revenue. Petraglia had argued that the City forgo the parking revenue to support its local businesses, which are struggling with inflated costs, particularly since the lost revenue will be offset by increased sales tax revenue.
After this discussion had gone on for a while, Council president Tom DePietro informed the councilmembers that the Council has no say in Warren Street Shared Usage 2022 and the only authority is the mayor's office. During the discussion, Mayor Kamal Johnson shared his opinion that the proposed season was too long, declared, "I'm all for whatever iteration," but stressed, "The huge issue has been enforcement." He spoke of noise complaints from residents and neighboring restaurants and told the committee, "I was getting complaints at one, two in the morning."
Exactly how this all will resolve itself is not yet clear. Wallace suggested the Council might make a recommendation to the mayor. That recommendation presumably would be ready by the Council's informal meeting on Monday, May 9. After the meeting, Petraglia posted an update on the HBCi website. That update can be found here.
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