Our Lake Today
Oakdale Park is a 14-acre public park in downtown Hudson, NY. It's home to a 5-acre spring fed lake, a small sand beach, a ½-mile of trails, and a small playground. Oakdale is on the site of the park proposed for public use and enjoyment in 1911. Some of the original goals were met when it was first created, in 1915, and developed in subsequent years...it's walking distance from downtown Hudson and is free and open to the public. Photographs from the 1950s and 1960s show the lake well resourced, well designed, and in high and exciting use for swim instruction and races, boating, ice skating, luaus, and more.
Today, however, an air of neglect about this naturally beautiful place, nestled inside an urban environment, leaves the impression of something wrong: it is so under-resourced and under-used--perhaps it’s dirty? There's only one point of access--maybe the rest is polluted or dangerous. There are no docks or platforms or other encouragements--is it deep enough to swim? There are no places across the lake where you can see other people, which discourages exploration and use of available land. What about creative platforms? Multiple access points? Land use reconsideration? Use of reclaimed materials?
Buckthorn and other invasive species have taken over even the most beautiful and intentional of the slopes. Instead of a stand of trees, which include walnut, hickory, and oak, one sees messes of brush. Parts of the trail might need to be reshaped or rethought. Beneficial planting or other native plant reseeding to encourage more wildlife?
There is copper sulfate in the substrate layers of the lake which may be there forever, discouraging frogs and turtles. More importantly, there is no constant system in the lake for self-cleaning. The lake is currently treated annually with enzymes, and is currently the cleanest body of water tested by the Columbia County Department of Health. But is there a way of helping the lake renew itself, clean itself other than the annual bacteria application? Beneficial plants?
The benches and tables are all worn, the beach house threadbare. The crumbling infrastructure contributes to the feeling of neglect that makes both the lake’s current users and potential users feel as though they’re facing something sub-par, instead of something beautiful, wonderful, a lovely, magical oasis in the heart of a city. Refurbishing or rebuilding is needed.
At some areas around the lake, rusty pipes are in direct contact with the water flowing in the lake. At other points, pipes aren’t in contact with water, and provide a rather lovely reminder that nature and city meet here, as do past and present. Perhaps,some of the remnants of past lives of the lake — cement blocks beneath the surface, box springs, etc — should be removed — some remnants should be kept, and perhaps more added, to provide a coherence to the urban history.
As the sole space available for the pre-school to adolescent children who participate in summer programming at the lake, Oakdale houses only one small playground with pebbles underfoot. The potential for the area devoted to the playground is significant. It is a short distance from the lake but isolated. It has been leveled. There are nut trees all around. Some additional and weatherproof infrastructure that integrated with surrounding landscape, purposes, and functions — playhouses, areas to build things from branches, etc. — would improve the utility of the space and broaden the park’s access for parents of young children.