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Visual Environment Board 04-18-07
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Present:        VEB Chair Doug Wehrle, Sandy Hardy, and Tom Smith.

Absent:         Nancy Kennedy, Kevin McManus, Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber, and a Trustee Liaison to be named later.

Attending members reviewed an application for the new Floris Nail Spa sign and discussed several issues relevant to Croton's visual environment. Sandy Hardy filled in as secretary for Kevin McManus.

1. Appointment of a New Trustee Liaison
VEB Chair Doug Wehrle noted that he expected a new Trustee Liaison to be appointed soon and would discuss this with the Mayor before the next VEB meeting.

2.  Floris Nail Salon
No one from the Salon, to be located between Zeytinia and the liquor store in the Van Wyck strip mall, attended the meeting.  As presented in the application, the plan (prepared by DigiSign Corp.) calls for an interior-illuminated sign measuring approximately 25 feet in length with the word "Floris" positioned above a stylized yellow flower design, and "Nail & Spa" appearing to the right.  The text would consist of predominantly purple lettering.

VEB Discussion:
a.      VEB members noted that the word "Floris" was difficult to read and should perhaps receive a different type treatment.  They also questioned if the designer might use a different flower shape.
b.      While approving of the general color scheme, the Board observed that the sign's logic was puzzling at first glance, but they agreed there was no reason to argue the various points.   
VEB Recommendations:
a.      The Board voiced its approval of the sign with the recommendation that the business's name be made more legible.

3. Additional Discussion
Members discussed the conspicuous presence of vacant commercial properties in the Village, particularly along South Riverside Avenue, which has been designated a gateway area.  The empty Dodge parking lot is a particular concern, since it is distinctly unattractive and has the potential to become more so if left unattended in coming months.

Discussing the short- and long-term uses of such properties, the Board agreed that:

"       Any vacant property, and specifically the Dodge lot, presents opportunities for an interim use that would mitigate the negative short-term impact of its vacancy and perhaps introduce a use that would benefit the Village.
"       Taking a longer view, the Village has the opportunity when a property falls vacant or changes ownership to make its best effort to influence the site's use for the benefit of the Village and its residents, and to enhance the visual environment.  Members pointed to the intersection of South Riverside and Benedict Boulevard as a place where this might currently be possible.

With all of this in mind, the VEB hereby records its desire to be part of any such future discussions/planning sessions and emphasizes the need for a Strategic Marketing Study conducted by a firm specializing in traditional, pedestrian-friendly "Main Street" communities that would assist Village planners in forming a vision for the community.  Among the issues to be considered would be: what kinds of retailers would have a positive impact; what does the Village need to do to attract such businesses and services; and, what elements of architectural design, aesthetic presentation, and public access ought to inform this vision of an attractive and healthy community?