Officials from the Walkway Over the Hudson joined local dignitaries to unveil the first “discovery zone” sign in the hamlet of Highland on the morning of March 7. The signs are part of an effort called the Greater Walkway Experience, the goal of which is “to encourage Walkway State Park’s 500,000 annual visitors to venture beyond the park to patronize hotels, restaurants, shops and cultural venues in the surrounding area,” according to materials provided to the press. Nine of the zones have been designated throughout the Town of Lloyd and City of Poughkeepsie, and a total of nine of the signs are planned for installation throughout Lloyd, with 14 planned for the east side of the Hudson.
The signs, which are two-feet across and three-feet wide, provide some historical facts about the area, historical photographs and a map of nearby points of interest. They complement the larger “gateway” signs which Walkway visitors find at the park itself, and will eventually be supplemented by mobile apps and interactive kiosks designed to help tourists find places to eat, shop and lodge during their visit. In Lloyd, the zones identified in the program are the hamlet of Highland itself, Highland Landing on the shores of the Hudson and Berean and Franny Reese parks. According to executive director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart, there are also plans to begin a direct marketing campaign targeting residents of the greater New York metropolitan area. A $200,000 state grant through Market New York helped fund this phase of the project.
Language on the first hamlet sign — which is at the intersection of Main Street and Vineyard Avenue — was approved by members of the Lloyd Historical Preservation Society and recount how the area was once nicknamed “Philip’s Folly” because prevailing opinion at the time was that Philip Elting was foolhardy for trying to get people to live on the high ground near the river. The sign also stresses that to this day, residents pronounce the hamlet’s name as if it’s two words, thereby stressing the importance of that high ground.
The sign was unveiled by Town of Lloyd Supervisor Paul Hansut, who remarked that the signs “will surely continue to increase the positive impact the Walkway has had on our community.” Hansut and his wife own a dry cleaning business in the hamlet, and he recounted how they recently had customers from Boston thanks to the draw of the new state park. He also noted that he’s watched a number of people stop and read the new sign already, as it was installed about a week before the formal unveiling. The signs also have room to include the name of a sponsor, or two in the case of this first sign, which is the only one in the town that will have information on two sides.
Scenic Hudson’s Jeff Anzevino, who serves as director of land use advocacy, is a resident of Lloyd and was also on hand for the event. He referred to Highland’s charming nature as double-sided, as the small-town character is largely preserved by virtue of the fact that most automobile traffic rockets by on nearby Route 9W, which also effectively diverts opportunities for commerce. He expressed hope that the new signs would be successful in encouraging tourists to visit the quaint shops in this quite walkable hamlet, where parking is still free. He also reminded those in attendance that “Highland is right in the center” of the evolving trail networks in Ulster and Dutchess counties which the walkway brings together. Once the Ulster portion of that system is more mature, park officials anticipate expanding the Walkway Marathon to include more of what Ulster has to offer.
In addition to mailings and information kiosks, park officials plan on releasing a four-minute-long video in May that was filmed from a drone, and includes shots of a number of landmarks from both sides of the river.