Operation Rebrand Sandy is out of the research stage and charging full-speed ahead toward a shiny new image for the town.
A committee of city officials, along with representatives from North Star Destination Strategies, began convening to talk action plans on July 7.
"(The rebranding initiative) is more than a logo or a tagline," City Manager Kim Yamashita noted. "It's also a written document of what the brand is, why it is, how we're going to use it ... and create a feel for not just the city, but businesses. We can really be a draw here — not just a pass-through."
After about three months of focus groups, internal and external surveys and other research, "a lot of positives came through," Yamashita said.
Citizens praised the city's numerous amenities, its "small town feel," the plethora of recreational opportunities, a friendly, "can-do" spirit, low crime rate and the quality of the library and SandyNet services — to name a few items.
On the other hand, many locals consulted by North Star expressed that "walkability" in their growing town is a concern for them.
Yamashita and city leaders are hopeful the data retrieved will be useful in shaping ongoing projects, and meet the needs of Sandy residents all-around.
"We have all these projects working independently," she said. "Our goal is to unify all these things so there's some sort of continuity."
The city is working on a master plan for the Pleasant Street area, a parks master plan and the renovation of the old Cedar Ridge Middle School campus into a new aquatic center, besides its rebranding initiative.
The Pleasant Street plan is intended to plot out how the area might fit within its commercial zoning in the future. There are several residences in the neighborhood. The city seeks to plan for how best to incorporate businesses and other commercial ventures into the zone as residents begin to migrate out of it.
"Moving forward, it's a way to manage our growth, (expand) our downtown core (and) move traffic intelligently," Yamashita clarified, adding that "dovetailing" these projects into how the city talks about its new brand — and vice versa — will hopefully make those things work in harmony" and create a more unified image for the town. "It really is kind of a cohesiveness we don't have now."
La Bamba's new Strauss Avenue location is a good example of the integration for which the city is projecting.
Yamashita also hopes the Pleasant Street project will help address issues regarding traffic, which many residents and visitors mentioned being problematic.
"Traffic is perceived as a negative (according to responses)," she said. "That's going to be a big challenge, because Highway 26 is not ours."
A problem Yamashita derived from outside responses is how the city promotes events.
"I think that people who are not from out here don't know all of what we do," she noted, referencing the myriad of events held in Meinig Memorial Park during the summer months. "I think if people knew exactly what we had going on out here, they'd be jealous."