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NY History and Upstate Tourism Development Awards

This post brings to a conclusion the series on the awards granted by the Regional Economic Development Councils in December 2014. The purpose of the series is to provide the history community with information about what actually is occurring in New York State funding.

It provides readers of these posts with the opportunity to draw on the primary source documents about what really is being done. It examines furthermore what Empire State Development is doing with the new money it has received and to determine if the Path through History has substance.

Here are awards granted by Empire State Development Market New York which are deemed tourist infrastructure development awards, an arbitrary category to conclude the analysis of how where this government organization actually spends our money.

Capital Tier: Columbia, Dutchess, and Greene Counties
Applicant: Hudson Opera House
Project Title: Market Hudson NY
Description: The Hudson Opera House will commission a Visitor Demand Study based on primary market research, to survey frequent travelers and conduct in-depth interviews to assess the needs of the growing tourism market within a 20 mile radius of Hudson and create a plan for developing and promoting the area and region to meet its growing needs.
Amount: $60,000

Central Tier: Tompkins County [also in Southern Tier]
Applicant: City of Ithaca
Project Title: Lake Street Bridge Public Plaza Enhancement Project
Description: The City of Ithaca will use the grant funds to implement safety improvements and aesthetic enhancements (viewing plaza, ornamental fencing, scenic overlooks, etc.) to the Lake Street Bridge Plaza, which serves as the only public entry point to the popular Ithaca Falls Natural Area, Ithaca, NY.
Amount: $97,500

Central Tier: Onondaga County
Applicant: Onondaga Historical Association
Project Title: Skanonh-Great Law of Peace Center Build out
Description: The Onondaga Historical Association will complete interior renovations to the existing building at 6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway in order to repurpose the underutilized facility into a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) heritage center. The Center will include a retail store and will promote heritage tourism and attract visitors to enhance the economic, cultural, recreational, & educational development of our community.
Amount: $80,000

Central Tier: Oneida County
Applicant: Utica Zoological Society
Project Title: Utica Zoo Foundation Project
Description: The Utica Zoo will plan and develop a new marketing campaign focusing on specific components of the Zoo’s mission of fostering education, conservation, and recreation throughout NYS. This will be accomplished by developing a multi-platform marketing plan to increase admission to the zoo, therefore increasing traffic to the Mohawk Valley Region.
Amount: $21,450

Central Tier: Otsego County
Applicant: National Baseball Hall of Fame
Project Title: Collection Digitization
Description: The NBHOF will continue the expansion of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s digital marketing campaign by engaging online visitors with meaningful content thereby encouraging visits to Cooperstown and the region, and the preservation of the priceless collection of artifacts in a digital format. The Museum has partnered with Google and will be featured on their Cultural Institute and Hangout platforms allowing fans to virtually connect with the BHOF and interact with baseball celebrities and enthusiasts. This project will complete the digitalization process and further develop the website in an effort to strengthen the newly formed relationship with Google and ensure maximum worldwide exposure.
Amount: $750,000

Finger Lakes: Monroe County
Applicant: Rochester Museum Science Center
Project Title: Transforming the Rochester Museum Science Center
Description: The RMSC is planning a transformation that will increase tourism to the region through a major renovation at its main campus on East Avenue. It includes a single point-of-entry 4,000 square foot Gateway building between the Museum and the Planetarium, interior and exterior renovations, and new exhibits and experiences that focus on this region’s innovation and entrepreneurship.
Amount: $200,000

Finger Lakes: Monroe County
Applicant: The Strong
Project Title: The Strong and Toy Industry National Halls of Fame: Phase II
Description: This public-private partnership project will leverage $3 million in private investment and use it to bring the Toy Industry Association’s Toy Industry Hall of Fame to the Finger Lakes region (Rochester) and install it alongside The Strong’s existing National Toy Hall of Fame in a renovated 5,000-SF high-tech gallery. This shovel ready project will retain 250 jobs; create 10 new jobs; complement Rochester’s Midtown revitalization; and provide a dynamic, one-of-a-kind, nationally significant tourist attraction for people from across the region, state, nation, and beyond.
Amount: $220,000

Finger Lakes: Yates County
Applicant: The Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum
Project Title: Discovery Campus Building Renovations and Exhibit Installation
Description: The Finger Lakes Museum is currently renovating a vacant elementary school building in Yates County, and the second phase of this project will fund the create an Environmental Education Center at that location that will promote ecological awareness and inspire the preservation and stewardship of our natural resources, through the use of static, interactive, and live-species exhibits.
Amount: $54,000 plus $200,000 in a related grant

Mid-Hudson: Dutchess County
Applicant: Walkway Over the Hudson
Project Title: Greater Walkway Experience Project
Description: The Walkway Over the Hudson will create the infrastructure necessary to encourage the nearly 700,000 annual visitors to Walkway State Park to venture beyond the Park to patronize hotels, restaurants, shops, and cultural venues in the surrounding region. The project will leverage the success of the Walkway to benefit the host communities in Ulster and Dutchess Counties and beyond. In addition to creating wayfinding signage and an outreach campaign, this initiative involves further collaboration with Marist College and IBM in enhancing the Walkway Mobile Web Tour and the creation of a web platform that will host an array of rich travel content.
Amount: $189,000

Mid-Hudson: Dutchess and Putnam Counties
Applicant: Town of Fishkill
Project Title: Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail
Description: Scenic Hudson will use the grant funds for improvements that include, a new Hudson Highlands State Park visitor welcoming area and at the Metro-North Railroad Breakneck Ridge Train Stop. A new ADA-accessible multi-use trail will be created and these ADA-accessible train station improvements will enable increased transit-based recreation for all ages and all abilities. Additionally, a new visitor welcoming area will provide enhanced parking for cars and bicycles.
Amount: $100,000

Mid-Hudson: Westchester
Applicant: City of Yonkers
Project Title Hudson River Museum West Wing
Description: The City of Yonkers will use grant funds to expand the exhibition space in the Hudson River Museum. The expansion of this cultural space will allow for a wider range of exhibitions that will attract more visitors to the Museum & Yonkers.
Amount: $380,000

Long Island: Suffolk County
Applicant: The Town of Riverhead
Project Title: Agri-tourism Visitors Center
Description The Town of Riverhead will undertake the renovation of an historic firehouse in Historic Downtown Riverhead to establish the Town of Riverhead County Agritourism Visitors Center. This facility will provide texture to the community, attract investment and also a location for the Riverhead Winter Farmer’s Market and other agricultural and tourism related establishments.
Amount: $200,000

North County: Essex County
Applicant: Fort Ticonderoga Association
Project Title: Water Transportation Recreation System
Description: Fort Ticonderoga will build a dock, and to acquire a 40ft pontoon boat to provide public tours, and to allow guests to fully appreciate the Fort story. This will create an enhanced multi-day guest experience, increased revenue from tours, more access for guests, and increased staffing.
Amount: $70,554

Southern Tier: Tompkins County [also in Central Tier]
Applicant: Paleontological Research Institution
Project Title: Cayuga Nature Center Facility Enhancements Project
Description: The Cayuga Nature Center, a public educational venue of the Paleontological
Research Institution in Tompkins County, will use the funds to continue its renovation, focused on the development and installation of new educational exhibits and renovations to the main lodge building and other infrastructure.
Amount: $996,987

Western Tier: Livingston and Wyoming Counties
Applicant: Open Space Institute
Project Title: Letchworth Nature Center
Description: The Open Space Institute will build a state-of-the-art nature center at one of the region’s premier tourism destinations, Letchworth State Park. Renowned as the Grand Canyon of the East, the park is a spectacular landscape of waterfalls, gorges and forests along 17 miles of the Genesee River. It attracts 700,000+ visitors annually from across the US and internationally. The nature center will provide a year-round, ADA-compliant facility to present visitors with exhibits, programs, and observational tools to enhance enjoyment and learning at the park.
Amount: $100,000

These awards are a bit of a catchall for the remaining awards by ESD MNY not covered in the previous posts. The issue is not in which post they should be listed but to try to get a handle on the totality of the awards granted. The subject was too large to be covered in a single post which led to this nine-part series. I wonder if anyone in ESD or elsewhere has performed such an analysis. The overall results document the importance of tourism in various forms, collaborative actions in non-history settings, and individual historic sites for repairs, renovations, and exhibits.

The Path through History itself is a minor factor in this process and even when potential paths through history could be created there seems to be no recognition of the program. The struggle of the Mohawk Valley history community to succeed without the support of the state attests to these problems.

4 thoughts on “NY History and Upstate Tourism Development Awards

  1. Truly appreciate all the research & work you do on behalf of “the history community”. The series on where the funding goes is so valuable.
    Do you ever go to lobby the politicians? If so, I would be very interested in helping.
    Forward into the fog… 🙂 Barb B.

    1. Funny you should mention that. On March 3, I was in Albany as part of the Parks & Trails Advocacy Day and on March 10, I will return, weather permitting, for Tourism Advocacy Day. I wrote about my baptism into these efforts last year. There is no New York State History Advocacy Day but I will meet with Assemblyman Englebright on his proposed New York State History Commission.

  2. Thanks, Peter, for your insightful analysis. As always, much can be learned from the adage “Follow the money.”
    I am disappointed in the PATH Initiative with its lack of leadership in Albany and its focus solely on signage and a website for communities to access free publicity for events during “PATH Weekend.” That is fine but I had hoped for more, such as a way for a community like Historic Homer in Cortland County to tap into resources to create a monument to its connections with Lincoln. This would promote history and revitalize a local economy via heritage tourism — which is what I thought the PATH Initiative was designed to do. I was wrong.


  3. Thank you, Peter, for all you do. I read with interest and usually pass information along to our local historical groups.

    Margaret Weigel
    Pulaski Public Library

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