Group hopes to connect Victor's parks, trails and businesses.
VICTOR — Tom Bullinger, co-owner of VB Brewery on School Street, said he’s been been working for a little more than three years to attract more people to visit local businesses. But the response could be better, and local business owners could be more strategic, he acknowledged.
“We’ve had the beer walk and wine walk and chili walks, which have been a little bit of a help,” Bullinger said to village trustees on Monday. “But it really doesn’t solve the general problem of how to build up the community.”
Victor is kind of “stuck between Eastview Mall and the racetrack” and is “on the way to other places” from a shopping point of view, Bullinger told village officials.
“What is Victor’s sense of place?” he asked. “We don’t have a canal, we don’t have a waterfront, we don’t have a times square. We have no huge motivation for people to come to Victor and stay in Victor, at least the way we currently have things set up. It’s kind of a drive-through town.”
Victor actually has an outstanding resource that it’s not taking full advantage of yet, Bullinger said.
Eight public parks covering 440 acres are among Victor’s jewels, including Dryer Road, Victor Municipal, Harlan Fisher, MaryFrances Bluebird Haven, Fishers, Village on the Park, and Lehigh Crossing and Mead Square parks.
Likewise, about 50 miles of groomed hiking trails sprawl across the town, including Auburn, Apple Farm, Bluebird, Domine, Seneca, Trolley, Royal View, Lehigh Black Diamond, Hundred Acres, Fishers Landing and Silverton trails, he said.
That’s why Bullinger teamed up with Victor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mitch Donovan, Victor Economic Development Director Kathy Rayburn, Victor Parks and Recreation Director Brian Emelson, and Victor Hiking Trails Inc. Trail Boss Chauncy Young to brainstorm and implement ways to get the word out about Victor’s natural and business resources.
The group is now assembling a full-on marketing plan.
They’re hoping to encourage merchants to create package deals for visitors, and display window stickers to identify themselves as participating vendors.
They’re looking for ways to expand and connect the trails system, improve trail markers, maps and kiosks, said Bullinger. They’d like to see businesses add bike racks in front of their storefronts. They want to team up with events like the Western New York Bike Festival and National Trails Day, and hope to apply for a Trail Town USA designation.
Donovan said he hopes the group can facilitate a sort of retail trail, making businesses on Railroad Avenue, Phoenix Mills, Cedar Hollow and School Street and Main Street connected by biking and hiking trails.
Probably the most challenging of dreams would be to give input on future infrastructure plans and improvements — specifically on Route 96. One day, the group would love to see roadways — even the busy thoroughfare — bicycle-friendly.
Mayor Gary Hadden called the effort “a great idea,” and “an ambitious undertaking.”
Trustee Larry Rhodes applauded the idea.
"We’re certainly not going to throw up any roadblocks,” Rhodes said.
A website has been launched to help get the word out about Victor's hiking and biking destinations and how businesses can benefit. It’s aptly named hikenbikevictor.org.