Docks, destinations part of proposed waterfront plan
Hudson's waterfront vision study continues to progress, as the common council heard a consensus plan on Monday, Feb. 26 from Short Elliott Hendrickson's Ed Freer and Alex Thill.
Though not set in stone, the plan lays out improvement opportunities for Hudson's waterfront along the St. Croix River, from the Buckeye garage near Interstate 94 north to St. Croix Street. With the old toll bridge road, the improvements cover 2 miles of shoreline.
Starting to the south, Thill said space could be designed for the St. Croix Sailing School, which has to relocate. The Buckeye Garage could be converted into a community center or beer garden.
A transient dock is proposed off of Commercial Street to bring boaters from the river into downtown Hudson.
Beyond the shoreline, Thill also proposed street improvements to Walnut Street that would further connect the street with the old toll road. This area could be shut down to car traffic once a week for a farmer's market or art fair.
A terrace plaza overlook is suggested for the entrance of the toll road to give access to fishing and a place for outdoor programs. The study also suggests a sunscreen for the amphitheatre to improve viewing of outdoor performances.
The old toll road bridge would become a new destination spot with suggestions from the study.
"This is one of the neatest aspects that I think the waterfront has," Thill said.
Seat planters would be added along the road, to add both a place for rest and more vegetation. The excursion dock would be renovated, and a dinghy dock added for sailors.
At the end of the dock, a ruin park would be created recalling the history of the toll bridge road. A destination building would also be constructed, with restrooms and concessions or a mini restaurant.
"The big idea here is to make it a highly valuable public destination," Freer said.
The existing beach house would remain. Nearby, Thill said an adventure playground made up of stones, logs and ropes could be added to give kids a way to interact with the natural environment.
At the northern end, the study suggests a floating boardwalk, a dock for the rowing club to launch and a trailhead with ADA fishing access, restroom and rowing club equipment.
The proposed plan would take anywhere from 10-15 years to complete. Freer suggested finding a demonstration project to start with, that could then lead to developing strategies for the whole project and securing grant money and other funds.
"The return on all the work I've been engaged in in the last 30 years has been four times the public investment," Freer said.
Freer suggested the new space for the St. Croix Sailing School would be a good place to start. The school spoke with the council that night to address its need for a new location. The council agreed to work out a lease for the school to move their storage shed onto the southern part of Lakefront Park, and continue to look at the option of the school using the Buckeye garage for facilities.