Hudson leaders eye improving connectivity for walkers, bicyclists

Phil Keren (pkeren@gannett.com)
Hudson city officials are working on how to improve connectivity for walkers. This photo was taken at Hudson Springs Park in the spring.

HUDSON — City leaders are working on figuring out how to improve connectivity for walkers and bicyclists throughout the municipality.

Council on Aug. 19 heard a report from city staff about a recent effort to obtain residents’ feedback on connectivity issues.

Council hosted five different group sessions to hear residents’ thoughts, while city staff conducted online surveys and invited residents to share opinions at the Farmer’s Market.

In the report prepared by city staff, Hudson Senior Planner Nick Sugar said officials highlighted the themes that came out of these efforts.

The main findings were:

1. The city should prioritize connections on arterial streets such as state Routes 91 and 303, Middleton Road, Hines Hill Road, Stow Road, Valley View Road, Barlow Road and Boston Mills Road.

2. The city should work to connect isolated neighborhoods to the larger community.

3. The city should work to connect downtown to the regional trail network along the rail corridor.

4. The city should focus on larger-scale implementation to create a stronger network in a shorter time frame.

5. The city should address safety needs such as: enhancing pedestrian crosswalks; prioritizing off-road trails/sidewalks over on-road bike lanes; as well as maintenance issues like pavement condition, tree trimming, pavement markings and obstructions.

Council member Chris Foster (Ward 2) said he was interested in pinpointing small segments that could be connected quickly and have “a big impact.”

Mayor Craig Shubert suggested that the city examine the possibility of connecting several smaller segments in various wards. Council member Hal DeSaussure (At Large) noted he felt it was “possible” that such an approach would be seen as “less impactful” than putting in a long connection along Middleton Road. Shubert acknowledged it “may be more cost effective” to install a long connection on Middleton rather than multiple smaller segments.

Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3) argued against doing multiple smaller segments, noting that such a strategy is “exactly how we got in the situation that we are in and I think that’s why the citizens are so upset with the connectivity plan.”

As an example, Sutton noted the sidewalk along Stoney Hill Road ends short of destinations such as Drug Mart and Ace Hardware.

“I think we’re better off going for these long, sweeping segments,” said Sutton, who added he believed the city had “underfunded” connectivity and would like to see an effort to increase funding.

Council member Beth Bigham (Ward 4) suggested the city examine extending the sidewalk along Herrick Park Drive from Lascala Drive to 91.

“We have a lot of walkers and a lot of kids on that street,” said Bigham.

Foster suggested that council have a workshop to finalize the plan and then invite residents who gave feedback the first time to attend a Zoom meeting to review the final plan.

DeSaussure proposed that council members provide written comments to the city’s planning staff on how the connectivity plan’s priorities should be ranked.

City Planning Director Greg Hannan said he was hoping that the result of the discussions would be a “multi-year vision where the community knows over a couple years [that] we’ve got significant impact coming.”

Council is planning to have connectivity workshop meetings on Sept. 16 and Oct. 21. As of now, they will review a draft plan on Sept. 16 and a final plan on Oct. 21.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.