State Senator James Seward and Assemblyman Marc Butler joined local officials today at Little Falls City Hall, 659 Main St., to mark the completion of a new tourist and information center next to the city hall building.
"One reason we hope to re-invigorate the Scenic By-Way Trail with the sponsorship by the Chamber of Commerce is to take further advantage of grant and funding opportunities along the trail corridor," Seward said. "We're excited about this grant and this tourism center, and everything is in place to take this project to the next level, and it certainly makes a great deal of sense for the Chamber to take an active role in this tourism promoting activity."
The $200,000 project was completed with a combination of city funding and a state grant of $100,000 through the New York State Department of Transportation for the Southern Adirondack Scenic By-Way Trail. The center includes information kiosks for visitors to the region, as well as additional parking spaces and landscaping. A new Scenic By-Way brochurefeaturing many tourist attractions in Herkimer and neighboring Hamilton County was also introduced at the ceremony.
In addition, officials announced that a new agreement is being put forward to have the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce become the sponsoring agency for the Scenic By-Way Trail. The Herkimer County Area Development Corporation, through former staffer Jan McGraw, was instrumental in developing the trail concept and obtaining the grant. However, the HCADC has gone inactive.
The 112-mile Southern Adirondack Scenic By-Way Trail begins at the two Herkimer Thruway exits. One leg travels north on Route 28 from Herkimer to Speculator, in Hamilton County. Another section travels from the Little Falls Thruway exit, along Routes 169 to Middleville and 167 to Dolgeville and Salisbury and then west along Route 29 south to Middleville where it joins Route 28.
The Little Falls Tourist Center gives travelers an opportunity, near one of the trail's starting points, to familiarize themselves with some of the local attractions and features they are likely to find of interest. The Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor and Brad Lethwaite, a graphic artist, assisted in the planning and design of the tourism center.
"This announcement today is the culmination of several years of hard work by many people. Foremost among them is Richard collins and Jan McGraw, who through the Area Development Corporation worked tirelessly to obtain this Scenic By-Way Designation and move the concept forward," said Assemblyman Butler.
Butler, the HCADC, and others formed a committee several years ago that developed a theme and a comprehensive corridor plan that led to the designation by the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT). The designation provides for international marketing opportunities for the by-way, as well as funding initiatives to enhance the by-way corridor. In addition to the $100,000 grant for the city of Little Falls, the Dolgeville-salisbury area of the county earlier obtained a $5,000 grant for a greenway project.
The Scenic By-Way was formally created through legislation introduced by Assemblyman Butler and State Senator Seward.
Seward and Butler said the key word in the phrase is "corridor," which means a community does not have to be located directly on the by-way. They said that many communities in northern Herkimer County would have an opportunity to apply for grant funding through the program.
Butler said the Soutern Adirondack Scenic By-Way Trail is a perfect example of agencies, communities, individuals and counties accomplishing something through a united effort.
"Many people may overlook the fact that tourism is an industry. By cultivating this Scenic By-Way trail, we are, in fact, undertaking economic development for our region. And who is to say that some traveler coming through here one day won't recognize all the positives we have to offer and ecide to make the Herkimer County area their home," he said.
Many people, he said have asked about the distinctive logo that was developed to promote the trail. The brown and yellow signs carry the diamond shaped logo. Within the diamond shape is a stylized representation of a river. Those figures were adopted for the logo because they each represent the many natural resources our area abounds with, he said.