(DRAFT - MAY 2011)
In 1966 the Town of Montezuma received funding through the Outdoor Recreational Development Bond Act and Land Water Conservation Act to purchase of 136 acres of property east of the Seneca River in the Town of Montezuma, NY.
Since that time the Town has looked at ways to use its historical artifacts and its location along the Seneca River as a means to build community assets and provide a place to attract visitors. In 2003, the Cayuga County Planning Department reinvigorated the idea with a proposal for the "Four Canals State Historic Park." With the turn of the economic condition and state governance, the plan to turn the land over to the State of New York never happened.
In 2010, the Town formed a new local committee to examine the park proposal and come up with an action plan. The new committee called the Heritage Park Design Committee (HPDC) began monthly meetings and quickly outlined a set of goals for the site. The town faces a number of issues. Since the end of the canal era within the village, most businesses have closed.
The concept for the Heritage Park is what is known as a "passive use park". This means a minimum of improvements will be made to the grounds, basically improved trails, cleared sites and viewing areas. There will be directional and information signs that will help the user understand the significance and history of each site. The Montezuma Historical Society offers a guide book that takes the reader through many of the sites and goes into more depth on each site. The Town has no plans for paid staff. All work will be done by local volunteers.
Who are the potential users? The HPDC identified the potential users as:
- Local Users (within 20 miles; Auburn, Port Byron, Weedsport, Savannah, Clyde)
- Walkers/bikers, people out on a Saturday or Sunday walk
- Nature lovers
- Students (with a provided lesson plan)
- Water users; kayaks, canoes
- Regional (20-50 miles; Syracuse, Rochester, Ithaca)
- Same list, except people will need a reason to come that far
- Tourists/users on Canalway Trail. These are people who are following the cross state Canalway Trail which follows Route 31. This trail must cross the Seneca River at Montezuma, and people are forced to ride through the town or at least by the hamlet.
- History buffs who will come to see specific well documented sites and learn detailed lessons about canals.
- Nature buffs who will come to see unique areas.
The HPDC realizes that the resources of the Town are limited, both in money and in people. What is not limited is the number of ways that the potential park can be used. The HPDC also realizes that the park needs to have diversified attractions to appeal to a diversified audience, while staying within the funding, personal and skill resources available. A fairly simple scope of action can be accomplished over a number of years. It can be seen that the visioning should not be limited by the limits of funds and people.
The Committee has decided to establish goals and timelines for the following:
- the sites and points of interest;
- the trail system routing to connect trailheads with sites and other trails;
- the trailheads/parking areas;
- needed site components/enhancements for signage, platforms, and boardwalks;
- budget development for trail clearing;
- site development/enhancements;
- signage for sites and trail marking;
- welcoming kiosk
- In the Fall of 2010, SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry 3rd year students underwent conducting an inventory/analysis for the park's development. They shared preliminary findings from the research analysis and visits to the park. Feedback from the public was given, and they returned in early 2011 to present final design ideas. The HPDC will use these ideas and findings to consider in the planning process.
- Technical assistance was also awarded by the National Park Service -- Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program.
- A planning and development grant was received from New York State Parks Environmental Protection Fund.