Hudson officials and business leaders started the Shared Streets program — now known as the Warren Street Seasonal Usage program — with good intentions. The idea was to reopen Warren Street businesses during the pandemic by extending dining and shopping spaces from the stores to the parking lanes, thereby enticing more customers and recouping the financial losses brought about by COVID-19.
But the planters and the one-ton cement barriers were not universally praised. Some saw them as narrowing a street already choked with vehicular and pedestrian traffic, others saw them as eyesores, still others thought visitors to the city would damage their cars on them.
As Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson told it Tuesday, the blocks and planters that extend dining spaces for businesses along Warren Street will be limited this year to restaurants, coffee shops and cafes. The Hudson Business Coalition is still finalizing the arrangements, Johnson said, and the barriers and planters should be moved onto Warren Street sometime in the next week-and-a-half.
Looking to end the mixed reception afforded the cement barriers, the mayor, city fathers and business community wisely limited the places where they could be installed, at the same time reducing their presence. In the most recent estimate, about 20 businesses will get the blocks. The barriers installed in front of the participating businesses will be removed in the first week of October, Johnson said.
In the post-pandemic world, outdoor dining is the accepted norm. Albany officials passed a law making it a permanent fixture in their city. We’re certainly glad summers in Hudson are booming, but the same goal might have been achieved with a safer, more aesthetic means of protecting diners in Warren Street’s parking lanes.