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SUBMITTED by Jerry Ashley, Lyons Main Street Program Manager (28-Dec-2009)

When I came on board as the Program Manager for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s newly designated Lyons Main Street Program one year ago, I brought with me almost 20 years of management experience and 15 years of operating and managing my own business in Washington State. Through office and retail management as well as self-employment, I found that marketing and promotion are key elements in any successful business venture and finding that unique element that will make your business stand out from others is essential. Lyons’ agricultural history is very rich and full and farming around our community continues today. Indeed there were other industries in our past however, it can be argued that the "peppermint industry" is the one that gave us global attention via medals and awards that were bestowed upon Hotchkiss Essential Oils. As such, one can easily see why the Lyons Main Street Program seized upon the marketability of that history. Tagging ourselves as “The Peppermint Village” has provided the LMSP with something unique to market as well as something that takes us back to our historical roots.

The Village of Lyons already had in place two village events (Peppermint Days, Lyons’ summer festival, as well as Peppermint Winter Wonderland–our Village celebration of the holidays) that we were able to assist in promoting resulting in the largest Peppermint Days Grand Parade in Lyons’ history, the first Light Up Lyons Holiday Lights Parade and a five-week long promotion of our village holiday events. Both of these events celebrate our agricultural roots in the peppermint industry. These events are drawing cards to our village and help support our local businesses and economy. Coupled with our recent success with the Historic Lyons Fall Harvest Festival, it cannot be denied that the Lyons Main Street Program has been a catalyst for reinvigoration in Lyons.

It is imperative that we as a community come out in force to support the renovation and restoration of the H.G. Hotchkiss Building as another tool in our efforts to put new businesses and tourism dollars into our local economy. It stands to reason that we would want to preserve this building as a centerpiece of our already successful “peppermint” events that have brought folks here that might not otherwise have come to Lyons. Each time there is an open house at the building, attendance rises from previous years numbers. Tours have been given to schools and organizations as well as visiting dignitaries.

The monies that have been allocated for the restoration of the building come from various grant sources. If the money is not spent on the Hotchkiss Building, it will be used by another community for another building. Lyons has been overlooked for far too long–now is the time to seize every opportunity to rebuild ourselves as a destination in Wayne County, New York. Restoring the building will pave the road for future grant and low interest loan monies that could be used to make our downtown business district more inviting and conducive to tourism. The dream of a “working” museum to draw visitors from Routes 14 and 31 as well as from the Erie Canal hangs in the balance. Local support will assist with the goal of filling our empty storefronts with viable businesses and reinvigorate our historic downtown business core. New businesses aimed at drawing tourists and locals alike will build a stronger business environment for all of Lyons’ businesses. Please attend the public hearing that is scheduled for 7 pm, January 7, 2010 at the Lyons Village Hall, 76 William Street, Lyons, to show your support for the H.G. Hotchkiss Building and its’ importance to our history.

As a new year begins, I ask that you support and frequent your local businesses and services. Without these friends and neighbors, our schools and organizations would lose much needed contributions or in-kind services. In closing I would like to personally extend my thanks to our many volunteers and wishes for a healthy and prosperous year to all of Lyons’ residents. Cheers!

Jerry M. Ashley
Lyons Main Street Program Manager


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8 Comments to "H.G. Hotchkiss Building"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    Well stated rosy picture of Hotchkiss! But is that not what a public affairs manager who receives grants and public dollars supposed to do?

    The county currently owns Hotchkiss and can accept the grants and fix the building up. Why won't they? CAVEATS IN THE GRANTS!!! Why won't the county just title the building over to the Heritage Society and let them run it? Why does it have to be given to a village first, then approved for sublease to the Heritage Society? How can a non-profit with less than $2000 guaranteed income a year guarantee 20 years of bills and maintanence without painting a real rosy picture here? What is the yearly attendence and how much revenue did it generate? How much did the politicians pay to attend? Why can't private money, such as Jerry Ashley's, be used to fund this instead of being GUARANTEED with tax dollars????

    These are the questions that the public should be asking. Fixing up Hotchkiss sounds great, why won't the county do it? What's the catch?!!!!

    Posted on Tue Dec 29, 08:40:00 AM EST

  2. Anonymous Said,

    I think the Hotchkiss Building is a wonderful historic landmark. I believe it is an important part of Lyons and should be preserved. As I have sat in on village board meetings and asked questions regarding the transfer of title, not one village board member has ever asked me what I thought about the building. I support the Hotchkiss building-- However, I do not support the transfer of title/ownership to the village of Lyons at the taxpayers expense.

    My problem with this transfer of title is this:

    The LYONS TOWN BOARD HAS NOW SAID IT WILL NOT BE A PARTY IN THE TRANSFER- THAT LEAVES ONLY THE VILLAGE TAXPAYERS TO BEAR THE COSTS. Now the village board plans to accept title of this building, which means the entire burden of maintaining this building will fall directly and only on village taxpayers. In this economy, with major (and smaller) industry shutting down in Lyons, village taxpayers cannot be burdened with unnecessary taxes. The County owns and maintains this building- and the village will continue to have full access to the bldg without transfer of title to the village.

    Again, we are to be seduced with mention of the grants available to restore the bldg and again the supporters do not tell residents that the village cannot maintain the bldg without your taxpayer dollars. Why do the supporters of this transfer keep eliminating that very essential fact. The Town Board said they would not be a party to the transfer if it would be a cost to the taxpayers -- true to their word, the Town Board has declined to pursue the transfer.

    All of the Lyons events mentioned above by Mr. Ashley will not terminate if ownership of the Hotchkiss bldg is not transferred to the village of Lyons. Lyons will still be The Peppermint Village; we will still celebrate Peppermint Days and Peppermint Winter Wonderland; we will still have the second Light up Lyons Holiday Lights Parade and the Historic Lyons Fall Harvest Festival will continue. These events do not rise and fall on the transfer of this bldg. All events will continue as in the past- And all village access to the bldg will continue.

    The Mayor says they (the board) are committed to acquiring the building.

    I urge Lyons village residents, let your voices be heard. Tell the village board, no more taxes.

    Brenda VanDuyne, Village Taxpayer

    Posted on Tue Dec 29, 01:56:00 PM EST

  3. Anonymous Said,

    tax tax tax a depressed area. For what in this case? A building no one will make a destination to see. Being a lyons tax payer I say enough already. Instead lets create after school programs and areas for the youth roaming the streets of Lyons. History moves on and so should we.

    Posted on Thu Dec 31, 01:37:00 PM EST

  4. Anonymous Said,

    After reading Mr. Ashley’s article It seems he is being too modest, he didn’t mention his ability to really “shovel it” I felt like I should put some boots on or at least pull up my pant legs. It is one thing to make a plan on paper it is quite another to practically work it out in real life. It is one thing to celebrate the peppermint history it is quite another to make it the center of an economic or marketing plan as he describes. But even if Mr. Ashley and others for that matter, think this is some great scheme to rejuvenate Lyons, he and others could at least be honest and tell the whole story. To start with instead of just saying that “monies” have been allocated from various grants why not say what it is “it is almost one million dollars in tax payers money” that is going to be spent on one building. 2nd what about letting people know about the tax payers money needed for the up keep of the building in the future. 3rd This one million dollars along with the $250,000 tax payers money for the main street program will not create one job or one new business but it will make a certain few people feel good that they were able to spend all that money. Next how about letting people know how many businesses came to the downtown after spending all the money to replace all the sidewalks and adding decorative street lighting 10 years ago. At least that was a legitimate attempt at keeping businesses downtown, it didn’t work but it sure does look nice. I have some questions for Mr. Ashley, how many people drive to Lyons to just see the Historic Wayne County Court House in a year? How many people know there is a house on Jackson street that is the oldest wood structure building in the county. How many people come to Lyons to look at the brick house on broad street that Abraham Lincoln stayed at overnight when he passed though this area? The answer is not many! and for him to say that the Hotchkiss Building is going to be the center piece of an economic rejuvenation of downtown Lyons is at the least, a pipe dream and at the worst dishonest. I believe that this restoration and acquisition of the Hotchkiss Building is being driven by sentimental and nostalgic feelings of a few people, some of who are in positions of influence in the village and town. It is amazing how such people will so freely spend the tax payers money for something that is not needed just wanted, I wonder if they would be so willing to spend their own money. It is quite ironic that these people do not think twice of spending about one million tax payer dollars for this building and if H. G. Hotchkiss was alive today he probably wouldn’t even be able to afford to have his business in New York because of the high taxes and cost of doing business here. It is the spending of tax payer monies instead of private money on projects like this and the attitude “if we don’t spend the money someone else will that has helped to bankrupt our state and put our country so far in debt that our children, grandchildren and generations to come will still be paying for the things we want not the things we need.

    Respectfully a concerned Lyons Taxpayer

    Posted on Sat Jan 02, 10:43:00 PM EST

  5. Anonymous Said,

    Same issue as a train station in Lyons. A waste of money. Reckless spending. Tax need to be vital things like updated ambulances and programs to help volunteers become trained. Now that is a neccesity. Get your heads out of the clouds. History is important but, not at morgaging needed things for 2010. Grants = tax money diverted.

    Posted on Sun Jan 03, 11:19:00 AM EST

  6. Doug Farley, Erie Canal Discovery Center Said,

    Good luck with your plans for the adaptive reuse for the Hotchkiss Building. The City of Lockport developed a similar plan in 2000 and restored an Erie Canal-era building into a state-of-the-art interpretive and visitors' center. The public/private partnership has been a great success and was recently recognized by the National Park Service's Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. We have had successive double-digit increases in revenue and visitation each year since our opening in 2005 and do not depend upon any public support for our current operations. Good luck with your plans!

    Posted on Mon Jan 04, 04:00:00 PM EST

  7. Seth C. Burgess Said,

    As with the passenger train station, the conversation must be about future generations.

    Ignoring an opportunity with the historic H.G. Hotchkiss Building would be irresponsible and heartless.

    I realize that several of the Lyons taxpayers who have commented "against" the Village's acquisition of the Hotchkiss Building are not ignoring the historical structure, they are simply responding to the fiscal stability of their government and community.

    HOWEVER, the opportunity we are talking about here is not for 2010 or 2011. It's about long-term gains for small businesses through tourism, it's about the children who will gain appreciation for and pride in their community and then remain local or "give back" down the road, it's about creating a historical center that celebrates the Erie Canal and the accomplishments of our fore-bearers.

    What we are talking about here is making a move in 2010 that has a piece of risk today and the strong ability to provide fruit to Lyons, New York for "the greater" tomorrow. The fruit will be income, cash flow, community brand value, and other things that taste as good.

    Let's look over the silent fence that separates what is and what could be and embrace an opportunity. For future generations, we can make a difference.

    Posted on Mon Jan 04, 11:13:00 PM EST

  8. Anonymous Said,

    seth i would like to thank you that your forum is allowing both sides of this issue be discussed. many times people just need to get things off their chest and then no matter how the issue goes they have at least been able to express themselves. people get frustrated because our elected officials really don't listen. send an email to your congress person and you get back a form letter and you can tell no one even actually read your email. anyway on to the topic of hotchkiss, it might be easier for some to embrace this project if there wasn't a 30 year history that some of us care to remember. about 30 years ago the village put in new sidewalks downtown with small trees planted it looked nice but the trees weren't practical (they go bigger and it took away parking) but anyway it was all in the name of bringing people to downtown to do busisness. 20 years later this time new sidewalks and decorative steet lights were put in again in the name of bringing business to downtown and again it looks great but it is a matter of fact that it hasn't worked just look at downtown. so the track record of spending hunreds of thousands of dollars with the promise of keeping business downtown is not good. it seems what has worked in downtown and around the village is when private money is used for business. sorry but you need to prove it to me first that this whole project is going to do what they say it will. thanks!steve

    Posted on Wed Jan 06, 03:23:00 PM EST


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