These signs—posted when the Bells’ Pond Hannaford first opened, then removed due to complaints from green-eyed gas guzzlers—have returned to the supermarket’s parking lot—this time in shades of fern instead of fire engine red.
Chatting the other day with a friend who’s lived and worked around Hudson since the 1980s, we were both bemused by how certain topics come back like clockwork—or bad pennies—every few years.
Each time, these topics instigate slight variations on the previous round’s arguments, invariably resulting in the formation of a new committee—which does little except preserve the issue, largely unresolved, for the next time it reappears as if for the first time.
Among these favorite recurring topics are:
Parking meters on the main Street;
Alternate-side parking at night;
Location of the farmers’ market;
Handling of snow emergencies;
The effect of parades on business;
Driving foot traffic to less-trafficked blocks;
Moving the State truck route out of town;
Enforcement of preservation codes;
What to do about the waterfront; and
The last is a particular favorite of those who are just getting involved for the first time. At first blush, signage seems like a relatively “neutral” topic, one on which rational consensus ought to be readily reached, to the betterment of all. But of course, nothing is so easy in a small town, especially one which insists on calling itself a city.
For most if not all of these topics, less is more. On the waterfront, just institute the unambiguous rezoning instructions of the Secretary of State from six years ago already, and the rest will fall into place. With overnight parking, limit alternate side requirements to the 2-3 nights per week when actual street sweeping occurs. With meters, get rid of them—as Mayor Scalera vowed to do during his first campaign in the early ’90s.
And with signage, Hudson needs fewer but clearer signs. In the age of smartphones and ubiquitous flyers in every store, a walkable place like Hudson doesn’t need directories on every corner lamppost, as is sometimes contemplated. Practically every shop owner is a living, breathing local guidebook. It does need easily-understood and readily-noticed instructions about parking. (Better yet, just do away with those regulations which require elaborate instructions.)
Rather than gussying up the town with banners and signs, how about first encouraging the removal or rewording of the many signs around town which convey mistrustful or even hostile warnings—telling people not what they can do, but what they can’t.
So for the next week, I’ll be featuring photos of such signs around town. In each case, no doubt the poster felt there was a problem to address—maybe a real problem—but the message is unnecessarily offputting.