GLENMONT — A dozen business owners and residents shared ideas and concerns with the Albany-based Baker Public Relations firm on Thursday, Feb. 13 at Glenmont Elementary School about how to deal with the upcoming roundabout’s construction and traffic impact.
Such discussions will inform the strategic communications plan that the firm will finish by April 1. The aforementioned roundabout project will convert the current four-way stoplight intersection of Feura Bush Road, Glenmont Road and Route 9W into a roundabout by spring 2021.
Attendees were given surveys to fill out during the meeting, including questions like what industry sector their business belongs to, where do they go to read town news, which social media or communication platform their business uses, and what ways they could use to communicate to their patrons about the roundabout’s construction progress, traffic delays and detours.
“These are going to help us out tremendously in quantifying your feelings and how you receive information from the town and to your businesses,” said Jason Politi, the firm’s public relations and marketing director. “What this meeting will do is inform the communications plan, not so much discuss details of the construction plan.”
The strategic communications plan will help the town and Chamber of Commerce communicate with businesses operating and residents living near the roundabout construction site. It will also provide tools to help businesses communicate with their customers and be a template the town can use for future major roadway construction projects, including the Delaware Avenue Complete Streets and Road Diet.
Besides filling out the surveys, people debated how often they should expect updates about the construction and traffic impact; which communication platform to best get them from; if having a webpage on the town’s website can be a central resource; and maybe installing a webcam that overlooks the construction site.
Selkirk Fire District Commissioner Chuck Wickham said having constant updates is important because Route 9W is a major road that firefighters, police and EMS use when responding to emergencies. “Route 9W is a route we use to go to Albany Med,” he said. “If you could somehow relay to us about detours or traffic, we will make sure we will relay that to our members so they all know what’s going to happen.”
He continued, “Some of our members come from all different directions so detours or traffic will affect them. Or we may even have to move our fire apparatus around to another location.”
Many attendees agreed that emailed updates is the best way for relaying construction and traffic-related information although some said texting could benefit them as it is more immediate and direct to their phones. Email and text were seen as optimal as business owners acknowledged that their businesses each use different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in varying degrees, which may cause confusion.
Discussions between Baker Public Relations, the town, Chamber of Commerce and businesses will continue in the near future, possibly with a second meeting. The surveys’ results and the business owners’ vocal opinions from the meeting will be reviewed by Baker Public Relations.
“We are really pleased with the turnout,” said Town Supervisor David VanLuven. “We received valuable insights and feedback from the diverse group of businesses who participated. Representatives from medical offices, salons, financial and educational institutions, gave suggestions on what communication tools and methods are most useful to them. Gathering this information is the first step for us to create the strongest and most effective communications plan possible.”
For more information, visit www.townofbethlehem.org/844/Glenmont-Roundabout-Project.