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No county spending on museum, yet

PENN YAN—Yates County Legislators heard an update on the Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum Project during the July 12 meeting. Keuka Lake State Park has been chosen as the site of the proposed 40,000 square foot facility that has an estimated cost of $40 million. The museum’s board president John Adamski answered questions following an overview of the project.
Project manager Don Naetzker also spoke, stating the group is currently updating the museum’s strategic plan. He outlined the types of visitors who are expected to visit the site. Adamski said he envisions the museum as a privately funded project but will they will continue to study grants. Major fundraising will take place in 2011.
Some people in the audience had comments and questions, including concerns about the impact of the project on the fragile ecosystem in the park. A suggestion received was that the main building be built in the woods away from the lakeshore. Adamski said their concerns are the same and the state Department of Environmental Conservation would have to approve plans as would the State Parks system. He said the area proposed for the building is not in an active part of the park, adding locating the museum in the park would not be taking property off the tax rolls. Another speaker, who said he lives near the site, commented the presentation did not show the museum paying for itself. He added he did not want any more money to come out of New York State, stating, “We will put up with traffic and congestion. Our lives will never be the same.”
Finance committee chairman Tim Dennis responded to comments that Yates County had spent money on the project. He said the $20,000 referred to has not yet been expended, but has been earmarked for the project. Legislature chairman Taylor Fitch said funds for a marketing study are expected to be shared with Finger Lakes Economic Development Center. Fitch emphasized funds that might be expended would be from the county’s occupancy tax. Half of the income from the new four percent tax has been earmarked for tourism. Fitch said, “I think having a museum here fits well with what Yates County wants to do.” No money has been requested from the county as yet.
During the meeting, legislators unanimously authorized signing of a Memorandum of Understanding supporting the museum.
During the public comment period, Potter Supervisor Leonard Lisenbee thanked the board for offering evening sessions. He said the later time, “Makes it possible for people like me to keep up.” More than 25 members of the public attended the meeting. Lisenbee encouraged the county to concentrate more on bills they are already obligated for, noting, “People are already sorely taxed.”
In other business: Authorized purchase of 911 Public Safety Answering Point Telephony from low bidder Verizon at a cost of $198,459. Following the meeting, Sheriff Ron Spike said the county had been put on notice by the manufacturer of the current equipment that there would be no more maintenance or repairs available. That system was purchased 16 years ago. Spike said the new equipment would allow the county to stay in compliance with 911 standards and to have equipment to contemporary standards. County Administrator Sarah Purdy said, “Basically we are upgrading the backbone of the dispatch center.”
• Commented on proposed state regulations on outdoor wood boilers.
• Voted to oppose delay in collection of tax on sales of cigarettes by Indian Tribes. Legislator Dan Banach voted no, stating, “I have a real problem going against the United States regarding the Sovereign Land Contract. I think we have no business in there.” Legislators James Multer and Steve Webster also voted no.
The next meeting of the Yates County Legislature will be at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9 in legislative chambers in the Yates County office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.

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