City Council approves new Hudson park
A new park will be established following a 3-2 decision by the Hudson City Council on July 6.
The 10-acre park on the east side of Hwy. 35 south of Stageline Road will be maintained mostly as a natural area.
The park also will have a picnic pavilion, a mowed area of up to two acres, a trail, an upgraded driveway and three vehicle parking spaces.
The city agreed to provide most of the amenities when the Hudson Water Utility acquired the land from the Hudson Meadows Homeowners Association in February 2006.
The Water Utility wanted the 14.1-acre parcel for development of a city well. Well No. 10 has been drilled, but isn't in production yet because the demand for water in the area hasn't warranted it.
The utility also has delayed construction of a water filtering building on the site.
Water Utility Director Tim Caruso recently told the city's Park Board that the utility was prepared to fulfill the land purchase agreement by building a picnic shelter and trail, upgrading the driveway and providing three parking spaces.
The driveway runs from the end of Canary Way in the Hudson Meadows subdivision north to the well site.
Mayor Dean Knudson reported to the City Council that the Water Utility had asked the Park Board to take over the property and maintain it as a city park after the utility installs the amenities.
Knudson's recommendation was to use the southerly 10 acres as a park, leaving most of it in a natural state. He said no more than two acres around the picnic shelter should be mowed.
He said the city should accept responsibility for maintaining the pavilion, driveway and parking spaces - and ask the Park Board for recommendations on naming the park.
Whether the city in acquiring the land had agreed to create a "proper" park was open to interpretation, the mayor said.
The Park Board in June recommended making it part of the city park system, he reported.
The City Council was sharply divided on the issue.
Alan Burchill, chair of the Public Works Committee, and Scot O'Malley, a member of the committee, opposed creating a new park.
"I think this is an example of how government grows out of hand," said Burchill.
He said the Public Works and Parks Department too often has to use its budget to maintain facilities that the Park Board or other departments decide they want.
"We have mission creep here," O'Malley said, agreeing with Burchill. "We don't have it in our budget to go across Hwy. 35 and mow this grass every week."
Later, he said, "The Park Board has once again written a check that we can't cash."
O'Malley asked why the Water Utility couldn't maintain the property.
Knudson replied that the city had agreed to do it.
A previous council approved the purchase agreement entered into by Water Utility.
Knudson reported that it would cost about $55 a week to mow the park.
Alderperson Randy Morrissette said he thought the expense would be less if a seasonal city worker did the mowing.
Alderperson Mary Yacoub said the Hudson Meadows neighborhood, a relatively new subdivision of mostly single-family homes between Hwy. 35 and Old Hwy. 35, was promised a park when the city acquired the land.
"They're not asking for the world. It's not their fault," Yacoub said. "I think it is our duty to fix this."
Yacoub offered to find other areas of the Public Works and Park Department's budget to cut to come up with the money for mowing the new park.
Responding to O'Malley's comment about crossing Hwy. 35 to mow a park, Yacoub said, "If you didn't want to go all the way across 35, you shouldn't have annexed it."
Alderperson Lee Wyland said the city had already agreed to maintain the property.
The motion to accept Knudson's recommendation for the property carried with support from Morrissette, Yacoub and Wyland. Burchill and O'Malley voted against it.
Council President Lori Bernard was absent.