PLATTSBURGH — Survey says there’s optimism towards the City of Plattsburgh’s downtown core.
Boire Benner Group subcontractor Amy Bonn of Finch Network announced that news, and other highlights of a late-spring questionnaire, during a public meeting at the Ted K Center last week.
The survey, open from May 30 to June 13, was an offshoot to the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s Marketing, Signage & Branding project.
The study asked for input on that project, including what adjectives community members thought were representative of downtown.
Recurring answers, Bonn said, were the words historical, potential, dirty, quaint and boring.
“We had a really strong yin-and-yang thing going on,” she said. “The thing that bridged the two was the term ‘potential.’
“So people would say, ‘Oh, it’s quaint and historic,’ or someone else would say, ‘It’s dirty and it’s rundown,’ but then they’d both end with potential.
“That’s good,” Bonn continued. “Everybody sees that we’ve got places to go and there’s some optimism there.”
The survey’s full report will be released once approved by the state.
When New York state awarded the City of Plattsburgh $10 million in DRI funds, $250,000 was to support a marketing, signage & branding strategy throughout downtown.
Such a strategy was meant to brand the city’s core and market its identity.
The end result will take the shape of banners, wayfinding sculptures, improved logo designs and added signage.
An advisory committee, with the assistance of local marketing consultants Boire Benner Group and Bonn, have been guiding the process.
The recent meeting, comprised of discussion and dot polls, was the first of three in-person opportunities to give further feedback on the survey’s questions and responses.
The next will be Saturday, Sept. 14, during the Plattsburgh Farmers and Crafters Market held at the Durkee Street parking lot.
The survey attracted 424 responses.
A question asking respondents to rank the City of Plattsburgh’s greatest assets prompted answers like scenic beauty, diverse dining and special events.
Others had a recurring focus on the area’s role in history.
In a question that asked how one would describe downtown to a friend, one of the top three responses had been historic/walkable.
And for banners that will hang from light poles, respondents were asked to pick one of two themes: Historical vs. Photography.
A majority of those responses, Bonn said, were in favor of the historical route.
ROCK, BOAT, FISH
Wayfinding sculptures would be a 3D rendition of an icon meant to represent the City of Plattsburgh.
Bonn has compared the marketing tactic to that of Saratoga’s horses, Buffalo’s buffalos and Burlington’s cows, and said the structures would be strategically placed to guide the community and its visitors downtown.
The survey’s three symbol ideas — rocks, fish (salmon) and sailboats/boats — were generated by the local planning committee, with help from artists Julia Devine and Amy Guglielmo.
At the recent meeting, city resident Joan Jansen admitted she wasn’t a fan of those choices.
“These three things are generic,” Jansen said. “There’s nothing specific to Plattsburgh.”
Aaron Benner of Boire Benner Group said he had to disagree with that comment.
Plattsburgh is world-renowned for its sailing, Benner said, “people travel here to go sail on this lake.”
Bonn had an argument for the fish/salmon option, too, boasting Plattsburgh’s popular salmon fishing.
“Think about the journey a salmon has to make — it’s pretty epic for a salmon to make it to Plattsburgh,” Bonn said.
Plus, she added, such an icon could honor the Native American community, “that we have not honored.”
“The idea of salmon is the journey, the food, the culture, the Native American part, the recreational part — that was the pitch on that,” Bonn said. “It’s let Plattsburgh be Plattsburgh and, to me, the salmon is very Plattsburgh.”
It was in Jansen’s opinion, however, that the story wouldn’t shine through.
“A fish on a sign is a fish. It’s not a salmon,” Jansen said. “Are we known for salmon? Is salmon something that is distinct and unique to us? No. It’s a west coast thing.”
Boire Benner Group Project Manager Libby Quéguiner said there was potential to feature more than one symbol.
“The question is,” Quéguiner said, “is there something that’s strong enough so that that one thing is what we become? Or, do we do multiple things?”
The sailboat scored highest with the recent session’s dot poll the rock option received zero votes.
ON THE CUSP
The gathered feedback will be combined with that of future sessions, Bonn said, and would help to tweak the project’s final plans.
“I think there’s been some really good input,” she said, adding that the local planning committee will take a look at it all.
Mayor Colin Read said he was happy with the direction of the DRI Marketing, Signage & Branding project.
“Our historic downtown core is a treasure for our region where history for an entire nation was forged,” he said. “There are many communities with historic and other assets in cities elsewhere not even as significant as ours.
“They’ve done wonderful things with historic signage, their sidewalks and streets and lampposts, and many other touches that bring alive their history and culture,” he continued.
“I believe we are on the cusp of living up to our vast potential.”
Email McKenzie Delisle: