If you live in Norwich, you have probably said this or heard it many times. It is because you and others see historic, cultural and natural assets throughout the City and wonder why “someone” is not doing “something” about it.
We’ve heard it quite often as well, and are working to transform those assets into products. Trying to rally the “someones” by developing a though-out series of “somethings”. If your questions is “hasn’t that been done before?” The answer is sometimes “yes,” but here is what is different. Past efforts, the Heritage Walk and the various walking tour brochures of the city’s historic neighborhoods, do not tell the story well. There is no hook that captures the imagination of a visitor, to get them to need to stop in the first place, nor has there been a marketing component to create a value proposition. Old buildings, scenic views and “neat” places are not enough to create the draw that places like Norwich need. What do Tourists want? Value for their time and money, unique experiences, along with insight and education. Marketing materials need to inform tourists that these places will deliver and then, most importantly, we need to deliver.
Here is what we are trying to do, by working with other city and regional groups, to change the approach for three key areas in the City:
Uncas Leap Heritage Area
Sachem Uncas of the Mohegan Tribe is a well-known figure. Many businesses and several place names still bear his name in some way, shape or from. Some of these places even have the potential to capture the imagination of visitors, and Uncas Leap in the Yantic Falls neighborhood is one such place. This is a significant Native American site, that when added to other Native American places in southeastern Connecticut, will be worthy of becoming a destination in-and-of-itself. Imagine seeing all of the Mohegan’s Tribe’s heritage sites advertised on the Interstate, or in rack cards at visitor centers. \
There are great places to see and stories to tell, we just need to inform people about what they are. We are working with the National Park Service to uncover the stories and develop an interpretive process to tell the stories in a thoughtful and compelling way.
We are also working with the Harbor Management Commission to integrate a planned Kayak trail into the Uncas Leap Heritage Area site, to provide tourists with multiple ways to approach the area and learn about the Native American history of southeastern Connencticut.
Check out the Uncas Leap Heritage Area Facebook Page to keep updated about this project: facebook.com/pages/Uncas-Leap-Heritage-Area/426063384173247. It is a brand new page so there is very little information today, but we will be posting more in the near future.
Heritage Walk is a walking path that travels along the Yantic River from Howard T. Brown Park in Downtown, to the Uncas Leap Heritage Area in the Yantic Falls neighborhood. This walking path has been in development for over a decade and overtime has won and lost favor as a City asset. We are working to improve wayfinding along the route, and to find solutions for some of the gaps that exist. We are also working to extend the trail further along the Yantic River and to create an additional trail segment along the Shetucket River.
Recent state Greenway Council recognition of both the Shetucket River Greenway (2012) and Yantic River Greenway (2013) will better position these assets for state and federal trail funding, along with being added to statewide marketing efforts and campaigns for no additional cost. The opportunity to walk to Uncas Leap, and understanding why you are making the trek (also how to get there) will improve the visitor experience.
Check out the map of the trail here: mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zcxnucZhiNCE.k15cMXHynXss
Benedict Arnold Trail
Benedict Arnold was born in Norwich Connecticut. He is infamous for his traitorous deeds during the American Revolution, but as with everything in life, nothing is as black and white as it may seem. He was born and raised in this community and along the way he learned the skills necessary to open his own business in New Haven and become an important early leader in the Revolutionary effort. He even spent his own money to outfit troops and to travel to Philadelphia, the largest colonial city, to rally for the effort.
Yes, he became a traitor, but uncovering the why is important. It is important to understand how a person that was so motivated by the movement lost faith in the effort. Perhaps there are lessons there to learn from, so that history is not repeated?
Ultimately, we are not looking to celebrate Benedict Arnold, rather use his name recognition, and the resulting intrigue to capture the imaginations of visitors. With more visitors coming, we can then spread the word about the Forgotten Founders, the revolutionary war era historical sites in the City (and region) and the role Norwich played in this nation building process.
Check out the Benedict Arnold Walking Tour of Norwich Facebook Page to keep updated about this project and other Benedict Arnold Related efforts: facebook.com/BenedictArnoldTrail
How soon will all this happen? Efforts are being made to make it happen, however, as with everything, money is needed to create the materials and marketing effort that is needed to raise awareness and provide a good experience. It will take hundreds of incremental steps, many of which out outlined in our implementation strategies, and we will try to post the bits of progress (both tangible and intangible) as we proceed. We also plan to explain why we are taking those steps and encourage you to participate in the effort. Please follow these Facebook Pages and help the effort.