Plans to boost the local economy by welcoming Walkway Over the Hudson visitors

Newly adopted Walkway Gateway zoning in Highland includes this rendering that depicts the town’s vision for development along Route 9W between the Mid-Hudson Bridge approach and Milton Avenue. (rendering courtesy of Scenic Hudson)

Newly adopted Walkway Gateway zoning in Highland includes this rendering that depicts the town’s vision for development along Route 9W between the Mid-Hudson Bridge approach and Milton Avenue. (rendering courtesy of Scenic Hudson)

“When Walkway Over the Hudson opened in 2009, we knew that it would attract a lot of people, but we had no idea how wildly successful it would be,” says Jeffrey Anzevino, director of land use advocacy for Scenic Hudson. “But at the time, everyone was focused on converting the abandoned bridge into a park, and there really was not a coordinated effort to figure out how to make sure that the people who come to use the park know what else there is to do in Poughkeepsie and Highland.”

Now that the Walkway is assured of visitors — some 700,000 individuals last year, according to Anzevino — there is a concerted effort being made to bring those coming to the Walkway into the local towns to eat, shop and support local businesses. “We want to make sure that people don’t just walk back and forth [on the Walkway], get in their cars and go home,” he says.

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So a strategy has been developed to “brand” the entire region surrounding the Walkway as a recognizable destination.

“We know that most people spend between an hour and two hours on the Walkway, and based on people signing into the Walkway guest book, we know that many of the visitors come from at least 50 miles away,” says Anzevino, adding that all 50 states and many other countries, too, are represented in the guest books. “Those visitors who are spending an hour or two or three to get here, and another hour or two on the Walkway, will want to know what else there is for them to do in the area once they’re here.”

And of course, our economy will benefit if those visitors spend their tourist dollars in our communities.

Scenic Hudson — which according to Anzevino invested $1 million in the development of Walkway Over the Hudson — is involved in the branding project not only to protect their investment, he says, but because they believe in the value of environmental and economic development organizations, municipalities, counties, businesses and other organizations cooperating on a program designed to boost the economy based on tourism, history and recreation.

So they gathered a large group of stakeholders from the region and with the help of a grant from the Dyson Corporation, a committee was put together and consulting firm Vox, Inc. was hired to develop a brand, logo, tagline and strategic communications plan.

“Through a series of focus groups held in New York City and up on the Walkway, involving people that either planned a trip to the Hudson Valley or were here, we identified the things that people found instrumental in drawing them here,” says Anzevino. “These things were: the Hudson River, the food culture we have here in the farm-to-table movement, history, trails and recreation, quaint villages and urban places.”

It was decided to brand the region as the “Greater Walkway Region” with the tagline, “360 Degrees of Discovery.”

The Greater Walkway Region is a fairly condensed area, says Anzevino, covering most of the City of Poughkeepsie and much of Highland, along with some of the town of Lloyd. The designation does not include the National Park sites in Hyde Park, for example, or extend as far down as Marlboro, he says. “It’s intended to identify a place that people can walk to or bike to easily from the Walkway.”

 

Signage

The first phase of the project has been the design of a series of three types of signs.

Regional Gateway signs are intended to orient visitors to the area. The signs will be located in places where visitors to Poughkeepsie and Highland first arrive: Metro North’s Poughkeepsie station, the Walkway elevator, Walkway entrances, Rail Trails, Highland Landing Park and Shadows Marina. There will be eight signs in Poughkeepsie and five in Highland. The signs are six feet by four feet in size and prominently feature the Greater Walkway Region map.

There are 2 comments

  1. Phil

    Great idea. We have many, many wonderful but disconnected attractions in the region and we are failing in how we brand and direct visitors to them – whether it be a great restaurant in New Paltz, a farm-to-table producer in Ulster County; an artisan in Highland…when people DO find these things they are always, “Wow. I didn’t know that existed here.” What we now need – and rumor is that ACE Hotel owners are going to be doing a boutique hotel off 9W near the Esopus…is about five other high-end boutique hotel destinations with great restaurants to help lure these visitors and get them to stay for two or three days. The economic impact of that is potentially huge. If you assess the potential, you have to realize that very famous destinations like Napa Valley and the Sonoma Regions of California are agriculture based economies that are masterfully branded, organized and offer hundreds of millions of dollars of annual economic benefits. We have CIA, we have the Walkway, we have Mohonk…we could have Williams Lake and many others…but we need to get serious as this proposal is and make it happen quickly. All in is the only way you can achieve it successfully. So let’s get moving! It will only benefit our local towns and residents with jobs, better local amenities and new entrepreneurs who will want to set up shop here.

  2. Jane

    Poughkeepsie area around the entrance to the Walkway is an eternal hellhole. I hate Starbucks but it IS a reassuring sign of gentrification for tourists and Poughkeepsie: You MUST put in a Starbucks near the entrance or on Main Street, near the train station or the Brasserie.

    I can’t believe how dumb the Poughkeepsie officials are.

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