Indian Lake Farmers’ Market Chairpersons, Danielle Shaw (middle) and Brenda Valentine (second from right) are joined by other Steering Committee members for the official ribbon cutting at the grand opening of the Indian Lake Farmers’ Market.
It has been a more than a year since the Indian Lake Planning Committee set out on its mission of enriching the community at large in the town of Indian Lake using the “Guiding the Boat” plan developed in conjunction with involved residents as a means of selecting and prioritizing objectives.
It is now in the process of evaluating the activities of the past year against the objectives and fine tune the course moving ahead.
To do so, the committee is initially conducting a series of meetings with its membership and members of the interested public. The first of these meetings was held in the Indian Lake Central School library on Sept. 18.
During this past year, the Indian Lake Community Development Corporation (ILCDC) was established, a Board of Directors chosen, officers appointed and the process of establishing itself as a 501-c3 corporation embarked upon. The 501 c3 status is currently before the IRS and confirmation could be received as early as this coming November.
Among other things, this status would allow the receipt of funding and the allowance by donors to receive tax deductions for their contributions donated to move the organization’s work forward for the town. Though the 501-c3 status is certainly expected to be instrumental in help enable it to tackle its objectives for the town, the lack of this status did not hold the organization back over the course of the past year.
The organization focused initially on the development of an Indian Lake Town Map that would clearly and comprehensively direct visitors to the town, as well as potential and new residents to the full complement of resources to be found in the hamlets of Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake and Sabael. All the creative development phase of the map was done primarily on a volunteer basis through the ILCDC’s Marketing Subcommittee and Al Pouch undertook the actual task of designing the map. The map was created in large weatherproof formats and placed around the Town in four strategic areas: Pines Store, Byron Park, The Lake Store in Sabael, the Blue Mountain Lake Beach. Eventually, the maps will be displayed in kiosks, which will also include smaller “take-away” versions of the map in weather-resistant Lucite holders. Much of the project has been funded through the sale of advertising on the “take-away” versions of the maps. Ann Carroll, chairperson of the Marketing Subcommittee, reported that the maps have been well received.
“What amounts to be a big need for the town has actually been met through some generous volunteerism and through a self funding strategy based on the provision of a very cost efficient advertising strategy,” Carroll said.
Another milestone reached during the year was the completion of market research for the purpose of developing a branding effort for the town of Indian Lake. It was reported that the research was accomplished by the Marketing Subcommittee on a volunteer basis. The marketing group held a series of focus groups with long-term residents as well as new residents to uncover the most attractive and meaningful attributes of Indian Lake for residents and visitors.
Once identified, the Marketing Subcommittee built these attributes into three alternative messaging concepts. These concepts are currently being tested to see which of the three concepts scores highest with visitors and potential visitors to Indian Lake. Some research using email is the first phase of this testing. This methodology is being used to expand the geographic reach of the testing. The target is to have a branding campaign ready for implementation starting in the spring of 2014 to the extent available funding will allow.
The Indian Lake “Main Street” program has made significant strides, as reported by Brenda Valentine during the meeting.
The historic walking tours of the town have been successful, so much so that the tours will be expanded to three for the coming year, including one for Blue Mountain Lake.
The “Take a Seat” program is reported to have been well received by visitors, residents and local businesses. The concept of “welcome feeling” was discussed, and the wonderful original artwork provided on a volunteer basis by resident artists has been a contributing factor to the town’s beautification efforts. It is reported that visitor interaction with the Adirondack chairs has been noticeably high and they should be contributing to an increased level of positive memorability of the town by visitors.
Attention was also drawn to the wonderful floral displays throughout the town — all the work of the Indian Lake Garden Club, now celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Valentine continued by pointing out that the addition of a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings during the summer has been a big part of the Main Street enrichment efforts. The market is held at the Indian Lake Central School. She discussed the challenge of getting farmers to come to Indian Lake and the complicating factor that there is only one farm in all of Hamilton County. That farm is represented at the Saturday market along with fresh produce from one other resource, fresh-baked goods, pickled products, handmade furniture and original designer tees.
Valentine discussed the importance that support from the community plays in sustaining and growing this additional resource for locally grown and fresh produce. She also mentioned that this, along with the McWhorter’s visits during the week and the planned expansion of the Adirondack One Stop, is going a long way toward filling the large gap left by the loss of the Indian Lake Market.
In addition, Valentine said the Community Garden has seen an increase in interest and is growing. She discussed the promise of having fresh meat resources and perhaps even seafood at the Saturday market next year. Thoughts of expansion of the season to include fall and winter availability will rely heavily on the continued support of the shoppers in the community. This is directly connected to the ease of attracting additional fresh food resources and vendors with other offerings. Also discussed was the importance of volunteers to help oversee and manage the operation of the market as it grows and expands.
The Main Street effort is also reported to be in the process of developing a central and comprehensive file on all commercial property available for sale in the town so as to expedite the availability of assessment and other pertinent information to potential investors.
Valentine reported that the Main Street grant had been submitted and it is hoped that news about the grant will be received in October or November.
Finally, Valentine provided an overview of the NYSERDA energy audit project. The town is leading in energy surveys conducted with a number of residents moving forward to increase the efficiency of there homes. Her husband, Town Councilman John Valentine, was also in attendance and pointed out that the program is now going to move forward to do energy audits on town facilities in the hopes of improving efficiencies and saving costs to the taxpayer.
Nancy Berkowitz was on hand to discuss the upcoming Hamlets 3 workshop to be held at the Town Hall on Friday Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. She discussed the Hamlets 3 initiative, its focus on sustainable development in rural areas, and the crucial nature of getting public involvement in the workshops.
“If there is no public involvement in this process, they will be designing plans for us in a vacuum,” Berkowitz said.
This feeling was strongly seconded by a number of attendees who stressed that the workability and utility of the designs developed under this effort could be crucial to future funding resources. The point was made that if local input is not received the hamlets will not gain the best possible outcome from this process.
Committee members considered what programs they may want to drop at this point. After some discussion, there was a general consensus that there could not be much more done regarding attracting a supermarket and that the potential expansion of the Adirondack One Stop along with the farmers’ markets would probably fill the void to a great extent for the foreseeable future. As far as all the other progress achieved during the past year, it was felt and agreed that the committee had established some important beach heads, but were not favorably far along to have earned the position of being taken off the committee’s radar.
During the next meeting, members will decide what their focus will be for the coming year. It is expected that a more open public forum will be held in the coming months.
The next meeting will be on Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Indian Lake Central School library.