Promenade Hill Park Improvements
Promenade Hill Park Improvements
November 12, 2022
Promenade Hill Park reopened last month, and now people of all abilities can enjoy the extraordinary views of the Hudson and the Catskills. Improvements to Promenade Hill Park, designated a park space in 1795, include:
- Accessible access to the plaza, seating areas, water fountain, play area, parking lot, and upper promenade.
- Redesigned open plaza with open and flexible lawn areas.
- Amphitheater stone seating blocks with views of the plaza and Warren Street.
- Added cast iron and wood benches, including accessible seating.
- Shade trees and native understory plantings.
- Play area improvements
I advocated for funding for this project, and served on the project team for the design and bidding phase of the project. Here’s a few reflections on the project.
The City of Hudson worked with the wonderful landscape architects Starr Whitehouse. Everyone brought passion and expertise to the project, and we gelled as a team.
Clear Goals and Values
To create a shared understanding, we established project goals. Every presentation and project synopsis reiterated the goals:
- Provide universal access
- Create a place for public recreation
- Celebrate history
- Use plantings to enhance the environment and ecology
By foregrounding our goals, we kept the project on track and built public support.
The last renovation at the park was almost 50 years ago, and this was our chance to showcase what happens when we invest in our infrastructure. So we went big — choosing high-quality materials and an attractive design to meet our goals. The project’s design phase began just before the Covid pandemic, and the construction bid was issued just as the supply chain crisis hit. So bids came back over budget, but we turned around, raised more funds, and were back on track within a couple of months.
It would have been easier to do a lower-budget project. And at the time, delaying a couple of months felt like a tough choice. I’m confident we had the right approach, and the park is an essential public resource for all.
The park is for the residents of Hudson, and I wanted to base our decisions on the people who use the park.
People have been demanding an accessible park for decades, and city officials from previous administrations had been suggesting a solution would happen “soon” — for at least ten years. So many of the most important stakeholders were cynical and wary of this new iteration of park planning.
We used trusted relationships, consistency, and flexibility to learn about what stakeholders want in the park and to gather input. We had several public meetings at the park, focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one conversations. Many people shared they wanted the park to center families and kids. There was also strong interest for features that will support public events.
The park improvement is a civic project for the benefit of all. But people angry about losing multiple elections tried to block progress on the project and spread misleading information to sow conflict. This is the political reality: there are bad actors who attempt to instill cynicism and confusion. The antidote is to combine clear goals (see above) with evidence of progress toward those goals.
Learn more about my work to improve parks and access to parks.