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Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum tours potential sites

JERUSALEM—Yates County was the first stop, Tuesday, July 21, on a tour of the Finger Lakes that will ultimately determine the location of a $40 million Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum planned for completion by 2014.
Project director and museum board president John Adamski offered some background, stating he had written an article for the Finger Lakes Magazine last year that included a reader poll which elicited hundreds of responses in three weeks. Adamski, who retired two years ago, called the venture the only project on natural history and cultural heritage in the region.
On July 22, members of the museum board and individuals interested in tourism from throughout the region met at Esperanza Mansion to hear an update on the progress presented as part of the group’s meeting prior to the tour of proposed sites in Yates County: Keuka Lake State Park, the former Branchport School, Morton Salt facility on Severne Road and Keuka Outlet Trail near Dresden. The local tour was led by Finger Lakes Economic Development Center chief executive officer Steve Griffin and  Yates County Empire Zone coordinator Ryan Hallings.
The criteria for site selection has developed with a full inventory of potential sites to be completed by Aug. 15 and the site selection made by the end of the year. Some of the criteria include infrastructure, inspiring Finger Lakes landscapes, nearby attractions, dining and lodging. Other considerations will be zoning, access including time, site carrying capacity to make sure the site can carry the program and aesthetic issues.  After the 19 sites now on the table are reduced to five sites, a detailed feasibility study will be done.
Yates County resident and museum board member Rolf Zerges said, “We don’t intend to compete with other museums, but cooperate with  them.” Group treasurer Cynthia Kimball spoke about the economic impact of the tourism industry in the Finger Lakes, noting that in 2008 for every tourism dollar, seven dollars flow back into the economy. Keuka Lake resident and museum board vice-president Bill Banaszewski said, “We have to deal with the economic needs of the area. I truly believe a museum in this area can truly top any other.”

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