We attended a charrette this evening after work at the Highlands Community Building on Poplar Street. This was a public meeting of the Small Town Main Street Branding and Wayfinding Project for Highlands. The public was encouraged to come and share their thoughts and feelings on what identity they feel best represents Highlands in order for this project to truly be a town effort. An online survey on the Town of Highlands Website at www.highlandsnc.org was available for participants and those unable to attend to have their input.
In 2009, Highlands won a position on the North Carolina Small Town Main Street Program to help us improve the look of our downtown and to promote its identity. Last year the program was making progress when the State cut the budget. Despite that financial set back, the Town Board felt that this was such an important program voted to continue and fund the project.
About 40 Highlanders attended, some who were born and raised in Highlands, others like us, who chose Highlands for their home. The first questions for consideration was “If you had to tell someone who had never been here, about Highlands in 15 minutes, what would you say?” The interactive discussion seemed to focus on two main aspects of life in Highlands – the natural wonders of the area, including waterfalls and mountains, and the cultural venues which abound in our community. Many spoke to the warm and welcoming spirit of the people in Highlands.
A second topic of discussion centered around signage in the community. Opinions ranged from those who preferred to remove as many signs as possible not only within the Town limits but along the gateways to Highlands as well to those who felt that we needed not only “welcome” signs but signs which help visitors find their way around Town. There definitely was consensus on what we do not want for Highlands – to become overly commercialized like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee.
Local historian Ran Shaffner says. “It’s important that the community feel a sense of pride and ownership for this project to be Town effort..” The group has met with business and government leaders and will visit many of the venues in Highlands over the next two days. On Wednesday afternoon, a public meeting will be held at the Civic Center to share the findings and offer suggestions for signage, logos and artwork for use in promoting our community.
For more information about Highlands and Cashiers North Carolina, and for access to the HighlandsNC/CashiersNC MLS, contact Meadows Mountain Realty today, 828-526-1717 or email us today at [email protected].