On Wednesday, June 15, the Town of Lloyd hosted a well-attended meeting to discuss the findings of Saratoga Springs-based analysts Camoin Associates. Representatives Rob Camoin and Rachel Selsky explained their findings with assistance from town consultant Ted Kolankowski of Barton & Loguidice.
“You’ve got a beautiful downtown but it’s hidden from a very busy highway,” said Camoin.
Due to its cloistered location, the hamlet is experiencing substantial sales leakage, said Camoin. Tourists, as well as a majority of residents living within a 20-minute drive time of the hamlet, are going elsewhere to make their purchases. The Development Analysis posits that additional full-service restaurants, home furnishing stores, specialty food stores, bars, florists, book, periodical and music stores would make the hamlet more attractive to shoppers.
An effectual action plan could include offering grants to potential entrepreneurs, as well as the owners of underutilized and vacant downtown properties. The Lloyd Community Development Corporation, which maintains a low-interest revolving loan fund, could be converted into such an incentive program, said Selsky.
“Move away from the loan, which can be difficult for businesses to repay. Maybe a grant would make people more excited and more willing to get in the game and start a business,” said Selsky.
Additional signage could combat the public perception of inadequate parking -- a myth debunked by an analysis of current usage versus availability. Marking the municipal parking lot may encourage downtown shoppers. Wayfaring signs throughout town, especially at high-traffic areas like Walkway Over the Hudson and Hudson Valley Rail Trail accesses, have an unprecedented potential to revitalize the town, said Kolankowski.
“The difference now is you have 800,000 people visiting just down the road. Show them the way in here and things will happen,” he said.
Community members in attendance were asked to describe their “preferred future” for downtown Highland, circa 2016. Responses ranged widely: appealing to artists, with galleries and music venues; cultivating night life, with movie houses and dinner time dining; developing the peripheral hamlet, including the cultivation of Mill Run Park along Fair Street; balancing weekday professional services with niche retail appealing to weekenders and tourists; and many more.
Camoin said that the key to success would be to bring coherence to the vision.
“Nowadays, both federal and state funding sources really like to see if, as a community, you’re going to help spur private investment. They want to see that [they’re adding to] part of a larger plan. Hopefully, we can help support future grant applications and continue the success that Lloyd has had by coordinating existing projects, planning, organizing and helping prioritize,” said Camoin.
Highland resident Jeff Anzevino applauded the town for focusing on downtown development at a critical time.
“There are really cutting edge things going on in Highland. I think that the potential is great, and what the [Highland Hamlet Development Analysis Action Plan] outlines is absolutely right on,” said Anzevino.
Donna Deeprose shared Anzevino’s enthusiasm, but cautioned town leaders to maintain a careful balance between redevelopment and promotion.
“If we bring in businesses and we can’t produce the people to support them, we’ll lose them. And if we bring in people and there’s nothing here, they’re not going to stay,” said Deeprose.
Attendees were encouraged to complete worksheets prioritizing the aims of a potential action plan. The input received will contribute to the evolution of an ultimate action plan.
“The planning process is the easy part -- it’s the implementation that’s hard,” said Camoin.
Additional comments will be accepted through Wednesday, June 22. E-mail Rachel Selsky of Camoin Associates at email@example.com.