Nyack Sketch Log: Main Street Revival

by Bill Batson

In Nyack, cheering for Main Street is more than just a metaphor. The state of our major commercial thoroughfare is a reliable barometer for our future.

For the next few months, economics will replace politics as the lead story in the media. The narrative was launched and framed by a commercial calendar that gobbled up Thanksgiving. In recent tradition, the opening bell for holiday shopping was not rung until Black Friday. We now have Gray Thursday, where retailers ask workers and families to choose between a holiday meal or feast of mass consumption.

The tallies for Cyber Monday will be reported and analyzed today with the January fiscal cliff negotiations between the White House and Congress as the backdrop. Failure for two sides more accustomed to acrimony than unanimity to reach an agreement could doom our fragile economic recovery.

Despite the bumpy economy, our Main St. is pulling off its own revival just in time for the holiday season. Here are a few bold steps and recent events, some new and some recurring that should make us all proud and hopeful.

Cash Mob

Hordes of customers swarmed two local businesses committed to spend $20 each. On March 17, an online poll selected the art supply store Vincent’s Ear to be the first business to be “mobbed’ with cash. On May 18, the venerable Pickwick Bookshop was voted by residents to receive the windfall. Participants gathered afterwards at OD’s to reflect on the random act of economic goodness.

Commercial Real Estate

Pink Entourage, Sweet Spot Candy Shoppe and a house wares and antique pop-up shop recently filled the empty store fronts on South Broadway near Main St. There are very few remaining commercial vacancies in downtown Nyack.

Nyack Marina

Even though damage from Sandy caused a significant set-back, the reopening of the Nyack Marina in June signaled a commitment to use our shoreline as a revenue stream. It was particularly impressive and inspiring to see how quickly the River Club reopened.

Art Walk

On Father’s Day weekend, the seventh annual Art Walk, sponsored by the Friends of the Nyacks, was well attended and well covered by the media. Each year the crowds get larger and the message that Nyack appreciates and advances the arts is further embedded in the public’s imagination.

Streetscape

A project that began during the administration of former Nyack Mayor John Shields broke ground in June and was completed on Nov. 16. The new landscaping, sidewalks, lights, cross walks, benches and traffic calming bump outs gave the village a face-lift just in time for the holidays. A fresh layer of pavement and coat of paint now adorn most of the streets in downtown Nyack.

Annual Holiday Tree Lighting

If you haven’t checked out the Main St. make-over, attend the tree lighting from 5-7p on Fri., Nov. 30 in Veteran’s Park (corner of Main and Cedar St.) and stroll your new downtown. If you plan on attending, bring canned goods for the People-to-People food drive.

Nyack Branding Association

A collaboration of the Nyack Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of the Nyacks, ACADA (Art, Craft & Antiques Dealers Association), Nyack Hospital and The Nyack Library is on display on banners strung from the new streetscape light poles. The group’s slogan: Nyack, Art and Soul of the Hudson and thematic banners were tested through a series of public meetings. Many focus group participants reported being optimistic that these diverse groups were successful in a collaborative venture to bring more visitors to Nyack.

Free Parking

The free holiday parking policy will be continued. Parking is free in the Artopee Municipal Parking Lot from Nov. 25 until Jan. 2. Some residents have noted that the best parking spot at the mall leaves you farther from the act of shopping than the worse parking space in Nyack.

Year Round Farmers’ Market

For those who have ritualized a Thurs. visit to the Nyack’s Farmers’ Market, you don’t need to hibernate until May. Starting Thurs. Nov. 29, the Farmer’s Market will begin an indoor winter season in the Nyack Center.

Boo Sandy

Days after a Grinch called Sandy stole Halloween, local businesses and the village kept the promise of free candy and costumes for our kids. The street fair style, Halloween themed event, which drew large crowds and was blessed with great weather, showed the resilient and improvisational spirit of our community

Emergency Town Hall meetings

The silver lining of the destruction and disruption of Superstorm Sandy was the daily exercise in civics at Village Hall led by current Nyack Mayor Jen White. We realized that we live in a community were local government is walking distance from virtually every home and that as neighbors we are eager to work together when faced with a catastrophe.

These features and facts make our downtown more vibrant, attracting new visitors to our village and giving those of us who live here compelling reasons to spend here. Money spent in our village increases our tax base and creates jobs. But let us not reduce everything to economics. Living in a village, the shopping district becomes our common area. Each time we run an errand locally, the social interactions are inevitable, refreshing and I suspect, part of what brought some to and keeps others in Nyack.

The three businesses depicted in this week’s sketch are:

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Main Street Revival” © 2012 Bill Batson.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored by The Corner Frame Shop at 40 South Franklin Street in Nyack, NY.

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