What’s in a name? Plenty, according to town officials.
If you run a business operating in the town, Planning Board officials would like to see the name “Halfmoon” included in exterior signs to promote the town as a distinct entity from Clifton Park.
“We’re trying to get Halfmoon differentiated from Clifton Park,” said town Senior Planner Jeff Williams. “There’s a certain romance with the name ‘Clifton Park,’ but we’d like to see that change.”
Williams said about half of the businesses along routes 9 and 146 are located in Halfmoon. Major name recognition just came about with the recent opening of the Shops of Halfmoon, sitting at a major gateway to the town at routes 146 and 9. As part of the construction plan that overhauled the former Star Plaza site, developers are erecting a “Welcome to Halfmoon” sign to attract attention from drivers.
“We’d like to see more of this from developers in the future,” said Williams.
The Planning Board lacks the authority to require new businesses or those updating their signs to include the town’s name but hopes to persuade property owners to visibly plug the town.
“Legally, we can’t force them to do this, but at every Planning Board meeting, we’re going to ask people about this,” said Williams. “We’re just using the power of suggestion.”
The naming issue arose this week when managers of the former Northway Auto Exchange, in business on Route 146 for 42 years, approached the board for approval of their new roadside sign bearing the new name Manheim-Albany. The sign is temporary, and the company must obtain final approval before a permanent sign goes up. Under local laws, the board can stipulate size, style and other aesthetics of exterior signs, but the issue of encouraging the use of the town’s name is a new wrinkle in the procedure.
Manager Mike Sesta said the local vehicle auction house has customers across the country and on the Internet, with clients coming from as far away as Texas who are not familiar with smaller municipalities.
The Manheim company is changing its name at all 90 sites nationally to provide more recognition among the string of locations. Regional or state names are being used at many of the sites; for example, the Newburgh site has been renamed Manheim-New York.
Sesta could not elaborate Wednesday on the steps the local auto auction house will take with the Planning Board. He said he is seeking advice from the company’s national headquarters. But he did say there will be further discussion with the town.
For now, the practice of encouraging businesses to promote the town in any way possible is a sign of things to come.
Williams said the push for name recognition will continue.
“It’s a townwide goal,” Williams said. “We’re one of the fastest growing towns in New York state, and we’re going to be working hard to spread the word.”