Topic Areas: Village Main Street Revitalization
Project Scale: Hamlet Vision Plan
Accomplished by: CCDR staff and student assistants
Partners: The Town of Savannah, the Savannah Vision Committee
How can a rural community utilize the character and image of its natural and cultural resources to contribute to a sustainable economy?
The Town of Savannah is located in Wayne County, midway between Syracuse and Rochester and about 15 minutes from Interstate Route 90. With its easy access and close proximity to these population centers and its abundance of natural and cultural resources, the town has recognized the potential of tourism to reinforce its agriculture-based economy. The town is located at the heart of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, and the potential of the community as a destination for nature tourism was strengthened with the opening of the Montezuma Audubon Center just one mile north of the Hamlet of Savannah’s business district in 2007.
However, the business district was exhibiting signs of vacancy and disinvestment. Although targeted business owners became eligible to receive 50 percent grants for building improvements funded through the NY Main Street Program, there was no unifying vision for the downtown revitalization. The Chamber of Commerce, the Town and the Wayne County Planning Department agreed that a visioning process was needed to provide guiding principles for the restoration and revitalization of the downtown. The CCDR was engaged to design and facilitate this collaborative process.
An advisory committee composed of local merchants, residents and town officials worked with CCDR staff and student assistants to organize and facilitate the vision process. A series of four workshops were held in the fall of 2008 and winter of 2009, progressively building upon and confirming information and ideas expressed by community members.
Of particular importance in this vision plan was helping the community recognize the value of maintaining and preserving the visual character and ecological integrity of the rural and natural landscape that is Savannah. The Vision Plan and Design Principles that emerged from this process extend beyond the original project boundaries of the downtown, highlighting the characteristics of and connections to the regional landscape and its features. The Final Presentation provides an overview and summary of the entire process.