BP's Tatics in Cape Vincent Ny

Friday, August 2, 2013

Local municipalities meet to seek special state recognition

Alexandria Bay, NY


 Local municipalities meet to seek special state recognition

By Pamela McDowell, Staff Writer

1000 Islands – The 1000 Islands region is spectacular, and it should be protected and recognized as a fabulous destination for vacations and development.

This is the consensus of nearly 30 business, tourism and government representatives from Cape Vincent to Morristown who converged upon Singer Castle on Dark Island for a kickoff meeting to seek the regional designation as a Statewide Area of Scenic Significance (SASS).

They made the 2 mile voyage to the island from Chippewa Bay aboard three antique boats.

Hammond Town Supervisor Ronald Bertram, who is spearheading the effort, hopes that the attendees of the July 23 meeting will become part of an advisory committee and that they will dedicate some time toward the SASS designation, which could bolster tourism, regional name recognition and grant funding opportunities.

Supervisor Bertram's vision includes families planning weeklong vacations to the region, rather than day visits. He noted that tourists come for the day and visit an attraction or two, but with more name recognition, the 1000 Islands could become one of the major vacation destinations in the state, with families staying longer.

According to state statistics, the 1000 Islands is ranked 11th among the state’s regions for tourism. New York City received 65 percent of travelers spending annually, while the 1000 Islands receives one percent.

Local leaders wonder how to draw more tourism here.

Already, a $75,000 grant was awarded for the study and preparation for the regional assessment project. That money needs to be equally matched by the municipalities and organizations, which could contribute services in lieu of money.

Even with the finances in place, the tasks required would be daunting and would take years of detailed study and data gathering.

The SASS kickoff meeting attendees heard that the process would involve planning meetings, the hiring of an expert consultant, and photographing, inventorying and analyzing scenic resources in a wide area – just for starters.

The objective seemed within reach, however, when at least one organization jumped solidly on board right from the start.

During the presentation that was being given by SASS project manager Valerie Johnson, Department of State Coastal Resource Specialistr, Barbara Kendall, and Supervisor Bertram, an offer was made by the Thousand Islands Land Trust Director, Jake Tibbles.

He threw his strong support behind the project and offered to donate the organization’s services, pointing out that TILT has the same goals as the SASS project.

"I find this all extremely interesting and important. Everything I've heard here today mirrors the goal of TILT. We received a Land Alliance grant in 2013 to design and develop conservation. We are looking at the 1000 Islands region as a whole, and we are doing the same exact study. We've done a lot of legwork and data collection. We have it collated, organized and ready to go. People are out there right now doing this," he said.

Mr. Tibbles said he sees a great opportunity to partner with Hammond and the other municipalities. He offered to become part of the steering or advisory committee and then took his conviction one step further. "We can give you our work toward the in-kind grants," he offered.

The hired consultant would work toward the final goal of coming up with a scenic resources plan that would aid in amending the coastal boundary of the state.

So far, only the Hudson Valley and East Hampton, Long Island, have been successful in reaching this goal.

The project would involve community members identifying important areas; planning how to protect the scenic communities; collecting maps, aerial photos, historical and planning studies; creating a slide library; evaluating and ranking components of scenic areas.

Some of the evaluation criteria would include natural features, landforms, cultural features, recreation, architecture, physical measurements and focal points of view. The specific areas, on the river and in land as well, would be ranked with a scoring system.

The SASS designation would become a tool for guiding communities for zoning and land use regulations.

In state or federal decisions regarding the region, the SASS designation would become an extra layer of review required by the governments.

Ms. Johnson, who is coordinating the first steps of the project, spoke about the immediate "to do" list. In the immediate future, she would need help from advisory committee members for data collection, ambassadorship, the conducting of public meetings, reviewing drafts and participating in planning and advisory meetings.

Meeting attendees were asked to fill out cards that would indicate how they could participate.

Present in Singer Castle's "breakfast room" to discuss SASS were two St. Lawrence County legislators, the county planning officer, representatives of Save the River, Antique Boat Museum, TILT, and Thousand Islands Tourism Council, St. Lawrence County Chamber Of Commerce, the town supervisors of Cape Vincent, Alexandria, Hammond and Morristown, economic development committee members, village representatives and other interested stakeholders.
There is no link to this story from the original source ~ 
The thousand Islands Sun is a small local newspaper.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to see these efforts underway. It is wrong to think that the Thousand Islands will somehow take care of itself.

For those of us who love the area and come here from wherever for part of the year, it can't be just a place where we come to kick back and zone out.

Apathy and inattention allow destructive forces to take hold.