By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer
HUDSON – Two recent surveys, of residents generally and business owners specifically, were discussed by the Hudson Economic Development Commission at its Sept. 29 meeting.
Some 43 percent of residents said they visit downtown Hudson every day, and another 37 percent said they visit every week. More than half said they get their news about downtown Hudson either from word of mouth or social media.
“More people are visiting downtown Hudson in the last three years than less,” Jennifer Emiko Kaplan, a planner with the Massachusetts Area Planning Council (MAPC), told the commission that night.
To explain this positive trend, Emiko Kaplan cited a diversity of shopping and dining options, as well as additional access provided by the Rail Trail. She added, “Hudson is both an historic and commercial district.”
For Hudson residents who said they had visited the downtown less over the last three years, the most commonly cited reason was congestion and a lack of services that interested them.
“Parking has come up many times through this project,” Emiko Kaplan said. “People are going to want to drive here. But there’s a perception that there’s not enough parking.”
A previous study had found that the parking supply was adequate for Hudson’s needs. But some spots were hard to find or more remote than a few minutes’ walk.
The core challenge for Hudson’s downtown parking is the width of Main Street, which contracts by as much as two feet on each side in the winter months, observed EDC member Thomas Davis.
“We have plenty of parking space but everything is just squeezed,” said Davis. “Very few towns have a Main Street as narrow as Hudson.”
Vice Chair Charles Randall said there was plenty of parking, and added, “It’s that complaining thing that people like to do. I think they should walk more.”
Safety concerns are also a result of tight quarters, said Director of Planning and Community Development Kristina Johnson, who observed that parking close to crosswalks poses a hazard.
She said one crosswalk-adjacent space “should go,” and asked “Do you want to have a parking space, or do you want to have it safe for pedestrian crossings?”
In addition to these discussions, a survey of businesses completed in April 2021 asked local business owners what they saw as important to their recovery from the pandemic.
“Most interestingly, there was an interest in low-cost financing for purchasing property in the district,” Emiko Kaplan said. “And a lot of people said they were interested in shared marketing.”