Niagara Gazette — “Hydraulic Park was the perfect opportunity to start a change in the way people view the falls. It was a rundown space in a prime location and no one had done anything with it in years. I wanted to show the residents of Niagara Falls that there are people interested in making a change,” said Hotchkiss.
Hotchkiss soon began his quest of revamping the park by starting with the basics. “I started by doing spring cleaning – raking, weed whipping, picking up garbage, trimming hedges, and weeding by hand. After catching the eye of the community development coordinator and the Niagara Beautification Commission, they took me under their wing and I was able to get a donation of $1,100 from the property owners. This was used to buy flowers, mulch and a trash can.”
“Joe approached me to see what we could do to turn the park around,” stated Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara and chair of the Niagara Beautification Commission. “His interest in the space led NBC to approach the site owner to ask them to contribute financially to the revitalization of the park. But even before that, Joe spent hours out there weeding, sweeping, trimming tree branches and doing anything he could by himself. He has many ideas for what to do at the park moving forward, and NBC is excited to have him leading the project.”
As far as the future goes, Hotchkiss has major plans and predictions for further development of the park that he has been working diligently in. “We plan to put up a mural along the park’s shed, get the brickwork on the ground fixed, restore electricity, and host live entertainment in the amphitheater,” said Hotchkiss.
While Hotchkiss’s professor at NU had the most influence on his success with his major project, the university’s Catholic and Vincentian mission also had quite an impact on the way he values and understands the importance of community service.
“After taking the Transforming Business class with Professor Alegre, I have logged probably 50-plus community service hours. This includes joining three different associations and working on multiple projects. Niagara’s dedication to its community has definitely come through in my work.”
Added Lowe, “I have no problems bragging about Joe and everything he does – he is the very definition of an urban pioneer.”