HUDSON — The Shared Summer Streets program will continue to limit vehicular travel and encourage pedestrian traffic on Warren Street throughout the summer.
The city approved the program after a successful trial weekend June 26-28 and extended the hours, meaning businesses will be able to expand outdoors into parking spaces on Warren Street until 10 p.m. on weekdays and weekends.
The trial weekend was a “great start,” and with more time, the experience will only get better, said Peter Spear, leader of Future Hudson and part of the team of organizers.
Organizers issued a survey to gauge interest in continuing the partial street closures or abandon the plan.
About 80% of respondents said the program should continue as is or with adjustments.
After reviewing feedback with Mayor Kamal Johnson, the organizers made the decision to proceed, with the hope of continuing until October.
A total of 431 people provided feedback via the survey.
Of the 106 business owners who responded, two-thirds said they saw more customers or the same number of customers, while one third saw fewer customers during the trial weekend.
More than 50% of respondents said the program made their lives more enjoyable, nearly 20% said the program was disruptive and about 30% answered no change.
Adjustments will be made, including better signage, which was universally requested, Hudson Hall General Manager Sage Carter said.
“We have made a number of recommendations to improve the program based on what was observed, feedback received and the traffic and pedestrian counts done by volunteers over the last two weekends,” Carter said.
The program is continuing despite pushback.
Some residents and business owners are not pleased with the way the plan was rolled out and disapprove strongly with the overall concept, 1st Ward Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff said.
Restricting Warren Street may negatively impact customers’ access to businesses and make deliveries difficult, Wolff said.
“While I appreciate the concept of shared public space, I am not inclined toward the coupling of commerce with that space,” she said. “Restaurants can clearly benefit from having increased outdoor space so perhaps there is some way to provide that, by encouraging the use of city parks for curbside food, without inconveniencing an entire city.”
The Shared Summer Streets organizers acknowledged that the pilot weekend had a rocky roll-out, given the rainy weather and the fact that businesses had just three days to apply for permits to operate in the streets.
The police department issued a total of 18 permits to businesses, Police Clerk Doreen Danforth said, adding that she was not aware of any permits being denied.
Funding for infrastructure expenditures to support Shared Summer Streets was approved by the Common Council, but a contract has not been finalized.
The Council allocated $82,320 in Tourism Board funding for the program, City Treasurer Heather Campbell confirmed.
The money will be used to improve signs and to build barriers to restrict access to Warren Street.
Local artist Marc Scrivo of Operation Unite designed functional planters to be used as barriers, Carter said. Scrivo plans to build them with local youth and community volunteers.
The Shared Summer Streets program is a joint effort between Future Hudson, Hudson Hall and the city, with financial support from the Columbia Economic Development Corporation and The Spark of Hudson.