HUDSON — Volunteers are invited to help create temporary colorful pedestrian zones on Front and Warren streets and North Second and State street intersections Saturday.
The project is part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative spearheaded by the city and Arterial and Street Plans.
Street Plans spokesman Mike Lydon said at the August DRI open house that Saturday’s temporary project is meant to generate more community feedback for a long-term street improvement plan for the city.
The project at Front and Warren streets will last about one week, and the project at State and Second streets may last up to a year, project planner John Gonzalez from Street Plans said.
Community members will paint curb extensions and a pedestrian lane that will also serve as a street mural. Funding for the project came from a $10 million grant awarded to Hudson in 2017 by the Capital Region Economic Development Council to use for western downtown Hudson. The city will use $10,000 of the grant for Saturday’s two temporary projects.
The curb extensions will provide more space along the curbs at the ends of the crosswalks.
“It reduces the distance to cross and also puts people in a more visible place for cars to see,” Mayoral Aide Michael Chameides said.
The State Street pedestrian lane will be a painted area serving as a sidewalk without a curb.
These locations are highly trafficked locations which will highly benefit from the low-cost improvements, Chameides said.
“During our community engagement process, these intersections were frequently highlighted as priorities for the public,” he said. “The two locations also offer an opportunity for distinct learnings for future planning. They are different neighborhoods; one is an intersection while the other is an intersection and street.”
The potential locations for the project had to be in the DRI project area referred to as the BRIDGE district, which stands for Build-Renew-Invest-Develop-Grow-Empower. The district covers Second Street to the waterfront from east to west, and Dock Street to the South Bay wetlands from north to south.
The murals will be outlined Friday, and volunteers will help fill them in Saturday, Chameides said.
“Mike Lydon literally wrote the book on temporary street improvements,” Chameides said. “It’s called ‘Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action, Long-term Change.’”
Volunteers will fill in a flower design created by local artist Kirby Crone.
“These street murals will showcase new and enlarged pedestrian zones,” Chameides said. “The expanded pedestrian area will make it easier and safer to cross the two intersections as well as access State Street. At Second and State, there will be a flower mural that stretches from the intersection along a pedestrian lane to the playground midblock between Second and First.”
He said volunteer participation is key to the public improvement project.
“These are public improvements, initiated by the public for the public,” Chameides said. “By taking a fun day to create the improvements ourselves, we are participating in an ongoing process of shaping our city.”
Council Majority Leader and Second Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga said she is thankful for the funding for street improvements, but they are overdue.
In 2018, she posted a video on YouTube showing what it is like using a wheelchair in Hudson.
“I broke my leg and ankle about two years ago and used my situation for those voices that have been unheard for decades by recording a video with several of us from Providence Hall in wheelchairs,” Garriga said.
Garriga has heard constituents express the difficulties of using wheelchairs, strollers and carts on the sidewalks. “Or just walking, for that matter,” she added.
Hudson Resident Jacquie Ottie is featured in a wheelchair alongside Garriga in the video.
Ottie has been asking public officials to improve accessibility in Hudson for four years.
“Sidewalks and ramps are my life,” Ottie said. “I go out every day and it limits all of Warren Street and the riverfront. That is where we need a ramp.”
She questioned the city’s choice to paint the street and sidewalk, but has not installed a ramp in Promenade Hill Park.
Fifth Ward Alderman Dominic Merante said Saturday’s project is just one piece of many traffic and pedestrian improvements coming to Hudson.
“It’s exciting to see what putting the pieces together of this puzzle will look like in five years,” he said.
He said model projects like Saturday’s are more effective than sketches at conveying new ideas.
“I like seeing the models of things,” he said. “This Saturday we can get a three-dimensional look at what this can look like in real time,” Merante said.
He said the project offers a preview of what Hudson will look like in the future.
“It’s a good sampling of what Hudson’s future can look like with these strategies,” he said.