Professor and student partner with developer to help revitalize Springwater

Developer Greg O'Connell – the leader of renovation projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn and Mount Morris – has chosen Livingston County's Springwater as his next big project, employing the help of communication professor Mary Mohan and junior Gabrielle Gosset.

Mohan asked students in her Advanced Issues in Personal and Professional Communication class to construct a hypothetical business plan that they would like to see implemented in a Livingston County town.

Gosset's project stood out among those presented by her classmates. It caught the eye of Mohan, O'Connell and Alliance for Business Growth Director Louise Wadsworth. Gosset said her plan was to complement the already serene natural beauty of Springwater by building a writer's retreat.

A creative writing and communication double major, Gosset said that working to develop a writer's retreat would be the ultimate culmination of her two passions.

"There's so much room for growth and potential" in Springwater, she said.

No concrete business decisions have been made, but Gosset said she hopes her retreat can be included in the revitalization of the town.

Gosset said the delicate process of revitalization could provide a means of helping a struggling town to "develop a distinct identity."

Mohan defined revitalization as "an [individual's] identity search, except for a place."

"One of my areas of specialization is ‘place branding,'" Mohan said. "It's a process where you're trying to help the community find their identity and then figure out how to attract their target audience."

"Revitalization is ‘Let's build a community,'" Gosset said. "If you make an identity for an area based on the interests of the people there, it will draw in like-minded people."

The process is still in the early stages of primary research. Springwater residents will be asked to contribute their opinions through focus groups.

Mohan said her interactions with citizens were met with "a readiness, a passion [and] an enthusiasm" that will help steer the town towards a logo and tagline. Mohan described making these steps as means of generating publicity.

Both Gosset and Mohan credited the incredible natural beauty of the Springwater area. They said that its beauty should be not only preserved, but emphasized as a theme of the revitalization.

Gosset said that "the [possible] writer's center will bring in people seeking serenity" in the town's natural atmosphere. Mohan suggested an all-season outfitter's shop because "whatever [residents] develop there has to be a good fit" for the community and town.

Work on Springwater will gain traction this fall with help from Mohan's Communication 341 class, which will be dedicated to working on the Springwater branding project. Gosset hopes to be the teaching assistant for the course.