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Ideas abound at latest Oakdale Lake ‘vision’ session

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HUDSON–Friends of Oakdale Lake and a team from Columbia University ran a meeting on creating a vision for Hudson’s Oakdale Lake and Park December 12. The park and lake provide swimming and other recreation for the public, and Hudson’s Youth Department runs a summer day camp there.

Friends of Oakdale Lake was formed from a group of parents who go swimming there with their children. The Columbia University team consisted of Kaja Kuehl and two of her graduate students from the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.

The meeting began with the Ms. Kuehl presenting suggestions, which took into account input from a community workshop in October and a children’s “design your ideal playground” activity in the summer. Each suggestion could either stand on its own or be part of a program that included other suggestions.

Suggestions from Ms. Kuehl and her team included:

1. Renovating the beach house for year-round use. This includes bathrooms open all year, and a large area for eating and relaxing

2. Reconfiguring vehicular access to the park. This includes replacing the North 6th Street entrance with a drop-off area and building a new entrance from North 7th Street, giving the park “a new look”

3. Redesigning the parking, basketball and skateboarding areas. The new design would accommodate the three purposes on less asphalt, because some of the asphalt could be used for either purpose, depending on the need of the moment. The current skateboard park “just isn’t working,” said Ms. Kuehl

This proposal generated many audience comments, reported later in this article

4. A new pavilion—large enough to shelter all summer campers in case of rain

5. Clearer water, which might require floating islands. The lake is not polluted but it has algae in the water. Leaves falling into the water release nitrogen, which encourages algae. One possible solution is introducing floating islands, with algae-absorbing plants in the water.

6. Forest classrooms set up on the trail around the lake; maintaining the trail, which is currently “eroding”

7. A new playground, with climbing rocks, play islands, an insect hotel, equipment storage, a covered area and bathrooms

8. A picnic grove

9. A boardwalk along the 6th Street side of the lake, with “buffer” vegetation between it and the street, a toddler play area, and “more opportunities to jump in the water”

10. Ice skating in winter.

11. A boat launch.

12. Enabling “quick” access to the lake by foot and bicycle from all over Hudson. “Better walking opportunities” from Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School, which is just behind the woods across 6th Street from the lake.

Additional suggestions from people in the audience included:

13. Fishing. A long-time local resident said he fishes a lot and suggested contacting the Columbia County Federation of Sportsmen for ideas

14. Lighting after dark

15. A trail from Oakdale Lake, across 6th Street by Underwood Pond, all to the Hudson River “There’s a lovely jet of land that extends into” the pond, said a man

16. Expanding the park to include the “large amount of city owned land” next to it

17. Keeping the facilities natural looking; “none of this colorful stuff”

Also from the audience:

“We’ll need a lot more lifeguards,” said a camp director. She recommended checking with the Health Department before committing to the envisioned new play facilities, because “a lot of that might not fly.”

Moreover, she said, “It looks like we lose parking spaces.”

Ms. Kuehl responded that there would be enough parking for events, though not when the basketball and skateboard areas were fully utilized.

Several people spoke in favor of separating the skateboard park and basketball court, “with space in between.” “We don’t want the basketballs and skateboards” hitting people engaged in the other activity, a young man pointed out. And in summer “the park is packed, with lots of people.” Meanwhile, some people were concerned that the plans did not seem to accommodate “two full” basketball courts.

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