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Picture perfect: Hudson looks to update waterfront

Lakefront Park is shown from a drone view in fall of 2015. The city heard ideas from a waterfront study on how to improve the city’s shoreline and park. Photo courtesy of Michael Huber Architects

Hudson's St. Croix River waterfront could see some major improvements thanks to ideas from a continuing Short Elliott Hendrickson waterfront vision study.

Ed Freer and Alex Thill of SEH presented the city with two main ideas Monday, Oct. 2, though Freer said they are for information purposes, not official recommendations.

The study looked at the city's current waterfront from the boat launch up to St. Croix Street, considering everything from boating to pedestrians to parking.

"There's some wonderful things, there's tired things," Freer said.

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Two alternatives were presented, though Thill said they can be mixed and matched.

The first alternative would move the sailing school and rowing club down to the southern edge of the waterfront area. The shoreline would be modified so it's no longer a straight drop, but still provides access to the water.

Renovations to the current amphitheater are also suggested, moving it to another area to provide more space and decrease sun glare during performances.

This plan would also look at adding more appeal to existing areas. The buckeye garage could be transformed into a beer garden with shelter and restrooms. At the end of the dike road, a ruin park could be added with a destination building and transient dock.

"We want to create a destination at the end," Thill said.

The second alternative would focus on connecting the park to the downtown area. Changes to Walnut Street would allow for the road to be shut down once a week or at different intervals for farmers markets or festivals. This would provide an area for people to gather that would lead them into the park and waterfront.

This alternative would add a sun shade or natural tree shade to the amphitheater. A floating pier could be added along the waterfront allowing people to fish and get out on the water. At the end of the dike road would be the ruin park and then restrooms only, rather than a destination building.

Each alternative provides flexible space that can be continued to be used in the winter.

"We've got to think about it in all 12 months of the year," Thill said.

Freer said the city can look at public funding sources and public and private partnerships.

"Everything we've shown you is very possible from a funding standpoint," Freer said.

Overall the shoreline is about Hudson, Freer said.

"Waterfront is huge in terms of attracting investment to the community," he said.

Council member Tom McCormick asked where the city should start to get the most out of the updates. Freer said promoting public access was one important aspect, and specific areas to focus on would be the dike and especially the shoreline. The test, Freer said, is making a place where everyone wants to take their wedding photos.

"Be in every wedding album, that's my test for you," he said.

The study will use feedback from these alternatives to continue with the planning.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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