North Hempstead Town is finalizing its first cultural master plan, a road map for how government, businesses and private organizations will work together to make the town a sought-after tourism destination.
Town officials revealed a rough draft of the plan Wednesday during a meeting with business leaders and people in the arts community, then asked for their feedback. Their input will be used in a final draft that will be completed in August.
The plan would be the first of its kind on Long Island. Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the town needs it, in part, because North Hempstead has historic sites, recreational spaces, restaurants, festivals and museums, but oftentimes "these entities work in isolation." The master plan seeks to unify those spaces and events, then promote them to residents, tourists and visitors. Bosworth said that places like Freeport and Patchogue have established themselves as destinations for restaurants near the water or live music and that North Hempstead should build its own unique reputation.
"We have our own treasures right here that we want to better promote to each other within our town and to those who may visit from outside our town," Bosworth said. "Sometimes the way to do so is to market an identity."
Bosworth and the town hired Massachusetts-based CivicMoxie in December 2017 to create the master plan. Since then, CivicMoxie has conducted interviews and focus groups within the town. Susan Silberberg, CivicMoxie founder, said those focus groups revealed that leaders of cultural institutions indeed work in a vacuum.
"People are really frustrated with the silos," Silberberg said. "There's a cultural silo, a commerce silo, [and silos for] tourism, and history and traditions and you all are working really hard to break out of those."
Information from the focus groups has helped CivicMoxie create the plan's rough draft, which includes six goals. One is for the town to help fund initiatives by cultural institutions. North Hempstead officials said financial support is possible if the town can win grants.
Another goal is for the town to help increase the visibility of arts institutions and business improvement districts, Silberberg said. Preliminary plans call for creating a website that showcases the organizations, an idea that received mixed reviews.
Mariann Dalimonte, executive director of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District, said a searchable mobile app is perhaps a better idea.
"What would be great is, if I was going to Manhasset that day or Port Washington, there's a way that it breaks down and you can click to see what's going on in Port Washington or you can see what's going on in Mineola," Dalimonte said. "And if you didn't pick [a community] it'll give you everything."
Caroline Sorokoff, director of the Gold Coast International Film Festival, said the master plan's success ultimately depends on increased public awareness.
"You can create a website, but if nobody knows it's there, then what?" she said. "Whatever it is that comes out of this, even if it's one-stop shopping, the biggest thing is how are you gonna let people know that it exists?"
6 KEY GOALS
A rough draft of North Hempstead's cultural master plan focuses on six key elements:
- Create opportunities for collaboration among different sectors of the town's cultural/arts institutions.
- Increase the marketing and visibility of existing cultural institutions.
- Create a new entity or organization that will oversee financial support to the town's cultural institutions.
- Highlight the benefits of visiting the town's cultural institutions to the public by using town materials (i.e. town website, welcome packets or annual reports).
- Create a public art and placemaking program
- Identify tangible goals for the master plan, then use metrics to measure progress.