HUDSON — Downtown Revitalization Initiative representatives hosted an open house at Promenade Hill Park on Tuesday night to get community feedback on its planned projects.
Hudson was chosen to receive $10 million for the Initiative from the Capital Region Economic Development Council to use for western downtown Hudson in 2017. The grant money will be used for seven projects in the BRIDGE district, which stands for Build-Renew-Invest-Develop-Grow-Empower. The district covers 2nd Street to the waterfront from east to west, and Dock Street to the South Bay wetlands from north to south. There are 1,272 people representing 19% of Hudson’s population and “all socioeconomic categories, and a multitude of ethnicities,” in the district, according to the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative plan.
Street Plans, a sub-consultant for Arterial Streets, presented Hudson Connects’ proposed street improvements, and Starr Whitehouse, a design consultant, offered a presentation for proposed Promenade Hill Park improvements. Both initiatives emphasized the importance of community feedback in the process of executing their projects.
From the DRI grant, $4 million is allocated to street improvements led by Arterial Streets, of which $10,000 will go toward temporary projects called “demonstration projects.”
Community volunteers will install the demonstration projects on the first weekend of October, Mike Lyndon from Street Plans said. The purpose of these projects is to “leverage further input on the long-term plan,” he said.
The duration of time the temporary projects will last will be determined based on which projects are chosen and how much money will be allocated to each. For example, if a mural is chosen, the kind of paint used will depend on the budget, Lyndon said.
One of the proposed demonstration projects is remodeling specific intersections, and each would cost about $2,000 to $3,000, Lyndon said.
Suggested improvements from Street Plans include improving lighting, adding bike lanes, installing sidewalks, replacing missing crosswalks, installing ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, curb ramps, and adding more signs that point to cultural institutions and businesses in the city. Data collected by Street Plans shows that out of 28 intersections in the BRIDGE area, none have ADA-accessible curb ramps on all corners.
Open house attendees posted stickers on the proposed intersections on which they would prefer to see improvements. Options included Front and State, Front and Warren, Front and Cross, 2nd and Columbia, Front Street Corridor and State Street Corridor.
“In the end we’ll have one, or two, or three intersections rebuilt temporarily to demonstrate future improvements,” said David Lustberg, CEO of Arterial Streets.
After receiving feedback on the demonstration projects at a public meeting this fall, the final plan for street improvements will be determined by the end of the year. The plan will be executed by an engineering firm contracted by Arterial Streets over the course of 2021, in what will be considered Phase II.
“The biggest benefit [of this project] will be essentially making a shift on these streets from being purely vehicular and car-oriented to being pedestrian-oriented,” Lustberg said. “And that really brings energy and vitality to the streets. So, in turn, it helps economic vitality; it helps safety; it helps environmental and ecological improvements by reducing dependency on cars, so across the board it’s a win-win.”
The Promenade Park project also asked for community input on plans at the open house on Tuesday. The project is spearheaded by Starr Whitehouse, a design firm with an office in Hudson. About $850,000 of the approximate $1 million budget for the project will go toward construction costs. The firm Proper and O’Leary Engineering, of Valatie, is working as an engineering sub-consultant for the project.
The priority for the park funding is to move toward an accessible route to the overlook, as mandated by the city. The promenade is not wheelchair-accessible, said Gail Wittwer-Laird of Starr Whitehouse. “It has been this way since 1977, when this plaza was built.”
The promenade section of the park was built in 1795.
But project organizers hope to bring as many improvements as possible to the park, Wittwer-Laird said.
“It’s a big area, but it was never really designed to be used as a plaza,” she said, pointing to the lack of benches for visitors. “We want to make it a more user-friendly place for people of all abilities and all ages,” she said.
“One common theme last night was a need for more family-centered places,” Wittwer-Laird said Wednesday. “We will look to see what else we can add or change to achieve this goal. We do have a tight budget.”
The proposed plans are based on input from the community and the DRI committee.
“The outreach event and surveys will help us to refine those plans even further as we go forth,” Wittwer-Laird said.
“We are trying to give the space a new life for the future,” she said. She described the designers’ roles as interpreters for the citizens of Hudson.
Mayoral Aide Michael Chameides said Hudson residents have been talking about access to the top of the park for a while, and that there has been a general excitement about using the park.
“This park gets used a lot but could still be improved,” Chameides said.
The goal is to have the finalized park design ready this fall, for construction to begin in early 2021, and the new plaza and ramp in the park ready by Winter Walk 2021.
The Promenade Park survey and Hudson Connects survey can be accessed through the City of Hudson website.