Museum breaks ground in Branchport
BRANCHPORT—The Finger Lakes Museum broke ground for the construction of the Discovery Campus in Branchport at a ceremony, Thursday, Aug. 16.
The project was identified by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council as a priority project in 2011 and was awarded $2.3 million to support the renovation of the former Branchport Elementary School into a historical center highlighting the Finger Lakes region. The event was attended by local and state officials, including Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy.
"The Finger Lakes Museum is a transformational project that will create much-needed jobs and provide a significant boost for the tourism industry and local-area businesses,” said Duffy.
The Discovery Campus is the first of a two phase multi-million dollar indoor/outdoor natural and cultural complex highlighting the Finger Lakes region. The project is sponsored by The Finger Lakes Museum and is expected to create and retain 100 direct jobs at the museum, create 330 construction jobs, and generate an estimated $12 to $15 million annually in the region through increased tourism, which will spur local economic activity with area businesses and benefit the surrounding communities.
“The Finger Lakes Museum’s Business Plan sets forth a series of small steps leading to the creation of a premier educational institution—with goals of stewardship, entertainment and regional economic health,” said Don Naetzker, executive director of the Finger Lakes Museum. “Establishing the museum’s Discovery Campus in the quintessential Finger Lakes hamlet of Branchport is a satisfying first step in ensuring the future of this pristine region for generations to come.”
“The Finger Lakes Museum’s Discovery Campus is the first step in a multi-phased plan to develop a cultural and natural history museum to showcase the Finger Lakes Region,” said John Adamski, president, Finger Lakes Museum Board of Trustees. “The Discovery Campus will serve as an educational center for all ages and provide experiential programming and immersive demonstrations.”
The museum was awarded funding from three state agencies, including $1.5 million from Empire State Development (ESD), $400,000 from New York State Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and $381,000 from the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC).
ESD’s $1.5 million will help to offset the costs of acquiring and renovating the Branchport Elementary School site and the construction of the Discovery Campus. EFC’s Green Innovation Grant Program will create an innovative and interpretive storm water management system, including a porous pavement parking lot which will absorb rainwater and reduce the runoff of polluted water into Sugar Creek. A rain-absorbing “green roof” and eco-friendly bio-filters will further treat storm water runoff, stream banks along the creek will be restored and protected, and OPRHP’s resources will be used to increase public access to the waterways at the Discovery Campus including the creation of a waterfront program center and a hand-carry boat launch.
In May, final design plans and a virtual tour of the exterior and interior improvements of the Discovery Campus were unveiled and can be seen online at the Finger Lakes Museum’s website: www.fingerlakesmuseum.org.