Discussion was held at the recent Lloyd Town Board meeting about the ongoing project to bring Greater Walkway Region signage to Highland and Poughkeepsie. The signs are intended to “brand” the region as a travel destination and encourage Walkway Over the Hudson visitors to spend tourist dollars in the surrounding communities once they’ve visited the Walkway.
Councilmember Mike Horodyski expressed the opinion that the Highland Hamlet sign focuses too much on its historic past and not enough on its current vitality. “I’d like the signs to speak to the fact that it’s still a vibrant center of commerce in our town,” he said, “not so much that it was a really great place back in the day.” When asked for a specific suggestion for changing the text on the sign, Horodyski pointed out that the sign refers to “the heyday” of the hamlet and said that he thought the sign would be more useful in encouraging visitors if it conveyed the availability of restaurants, bars and shops available today; “the continuation of a different kind of a heyday.”
The text of the Highland Hamlet sign in question reads: “Seeking higher ground, early settlers established this quaint hamlet surrounded by farmland with not-so-distant views of the Hudson. To this day, locals still take its geography literally, pronouncing their home “high land.”
Its destiny was not always assured. When Philip Elting first donated land for a church back in the 1820s and built stores to form the town center, many referred to his venture as ‘Phillip’s Folly’. More than a half century later, the railroad transformed this folly into an economic hub, including a large lumber yard that served an expanding population and building boom. Tragically, fire destroyed much of the business district in 1891, but it was rebuilt in brick and stone. A trolley, which linked New Paltz to the Hudson, once ran right through town; this presaged a peak in population which arose from a more elaborate railway system connecting Kingston and Newburgh. The advent of the automobile and the building of 9W had the opposite effect, moving the economic center of gravity away from the hamlet, into what is now incorporated as the Town of Lloyd.
Today, the buildings remain a testament to its industrial heyday, but the lifestyle of the hamlet is more in tune to the beauty and tranquility of the Hudson River Valley.”
The first paragraph of the sign for Franny Reese State Park was also brought to task by several members of the board as reading more like a commercial for Scenic Hudson before it gets down to describing the activities available at the park; verbiage perhaps more suited to Scenic Hudson’s website than the sign. The text in question reads: “Had it not been for the visionary activism of a dedicated few, this beautiful and historic tract of Hudson Valley woodlands might be just a distant memory. Instead, the grass-roots environmental and land-use advocacy organization, Scenic Hudson, purchased the land in 2003 as part of its crusade to preserve and revitalize the natural wonder along this majestic river. Now a state park named after the organization’s founding member and guiding spirit, Franny Reese, it’s home to 250 stunning acres and 2.5 miles of trails.”
Supervisor Paul Hansut noted that the signs have not yet been fabricated and said that Scenic Hudson has been “very receptive” to the board’s input in the process. He suggested that a workshop be set up with Scenic Hudson to discuss the matter further and asked board members to put their thoughts together on any desired changes.