October 5, 2022

HUDSON — A local nonprofit is looking for landscape designers to redevelop 7th Street Park.

Friends of Public Square Hudson formed in 2021 with the mission to improve the park, the city’s public square, once known as the unofficial center of Hudson’s upper business district.

Updating Hudson’s urban green spaces is a popular talking point in the city, as many organizations are committed to park revitalization, both for the residential community and for the tourists who visit the city on weekends.

Friends of Public Square Hudson is looking for a concept design of the renovated park by March 21. Interested landscape designers and architects must provide plans, sections and renderings of what the transfigured park would look like, as well as an estimate of costs and parameters for ways to conduct community engagement.

The chosen design idea will then be used to help the organization apply for public and private grants to fund the park’s redevelopment.

“We’re looking for a team with municipal experience, not just garden design,” said Katherine Kanaga, who co-chairs of Friends of Public Square Hudson.

After years of abandonment, the park is now crumbling.

The sidewalks are pathways of broken asphalt and the fountain at the park’s center is non-existent.

“The benches are a little funny,” said Kit Ballum-Cohen, 44, a graphic designer enjoying a light breakfast at the park on Monday. “There are tall ones and short ones. I’d love to see more flowers and plantings.”

Kanaga wants designers to consider water and electricity, drainage, lighting and public safety — not just the exterior landscaping of the park.

“We’re looking for a redevelopment from soup to nuts,” Kanaga said. “We need new water features, to upgrade the plumbing, the plaza, the pathways, a new fence.”

Mayor Kamal Johnson will meet this week with the Columbia County Civil Service Commission to identify the requirements for adding at least two new city jobs specifically devoted to Hudson’s parks. He will then report the information to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which consists of the mayor, the Common Council president and the city treasurer.

Johnson said Monday that the long-term goal for the city is to create a stand-alone parks department.

Johnson grew up at 704 Columbia St., an apartment building next to the Citgo gas station on the north side of the 7th Street Park. Friends of Public Square Hudson is simultaneously renovating the park as Taconic Engineering, hired by Savannah Hudson Properties LLC, plans to improve the building to create a restaurant and two commercial spaces.

“It’s in hard shape,” Johnson said. “It’s a park that is the center of our city that’s gone unattended. I would like to see more green space. It needs to be more inviting.”

A complete reevaluation of the pedestrian circulation pattern of the park is necessary for it to be more appealing.

The Norway Maple trees that encircle the park were planted when the park was first created in the late 19th century. They are now large fixtures of a bygone era where exoticism and extravagance were in fashion.

Today, however, it is recognized that these trees are an invasive species that is considered allelopathic, meaning they deter the growth of other organisms around them. Their removal would bring more light to the park, allow for diverse growth of less invasive plants and make the space more inviting.

Friends of Public Square Hudson is dedicated to creating an interrelationship between functional architecture and gardens that acts as a public space for people to gather. One where the trickle of water from the fountain cancels out noise pollution from the nearby truck route; one where the walkways are smooth, charming, and not so dangerous.

This story has been updated with additional details qt 10:40 a.m. March 15, 2022.

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