Richmond Aqueduct

Richmond Aqueduct
Second Largest Aqueduct Built on the Enlarged Erie Canal (1856-1917)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Trail Blazing!

Well, maybe December is not such a good time for trail blazing, but I thought I would feature a slide show of an event last Spring.  A great group of volunteers came out to participate in the Town of Montezuma sponsored Clean Sweep program to pick up trash, trim trail hedges, chip, and mulch on the Heritage Park site. Looking ahead to 2011, plans are already underway to do it again. 

Since this is the time of year to reflect back, I've been doing some research on the history of park plans in Montezuma that goes back 45 years ago to December 1965. Not to give away my age, but that was the year I graduated from high school. David Butler was the Town Supervisor who applied for funding to acquire the parkland made possible through the  Outdoor Recreation Development Bond Act and the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965.  Byron Lapp was elected the next supervisor who carried out the long process of completing the acquisition of parkland eventually in 1971.  

As we look forward to envisioning plans for the park this coming year, we can appreciate the many years it took to complete this work. Through Byron's perseverance, we can be thankful the land has been preserved for public use and preservation of the great historic sites it holds. 

Also, if you are starting to get the Cabin Fever Blues, Mike Riley has some great suggestions for getting out and enjoying the winter here in Cayuga County that were a part of last year's Canal Splash, Flowing the Flow: The Tale of Two Erie Canals. 

Wishing you a never-ending season of joy and peace. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SUNY ESF Student Presentations - Nov 1

SUNY -ESF 3rd Year Design Students  
at Montezuma Town Hall
Ready to give their presentations to the community

Cheryl Doble, Associate Professor at the Center for Community Design
Research sets the stage for the students presentations
explaining the basis of the work to date

On Monday, November 1, 2010, the community listened as third year design studio students from SUNY - ESF Department of Landscape Architecture displayed graphic representations of their projects and described the results of their analysis and findings of the proposed park site. Through their analysis, the students have identified potential opportunities related to the Heritage Park. They highlighted the regional aspects of the site,  history, wildlife and nature interpretation, commercial, recreation and performance such as music, plays, interpretative events and festivals.  The students did an excellent job of researching the site and analyzing the potential for the park.  There was good feedback and discussion from the audience for the students to consider as they now move on to their final design concepts for the park. 

Maren King, Assistant Director at the Center of Community Design 
Research, lists some points for the students to take into consideration 
as the community gives feedback after the presentations for
their final design project.

Monday, October 25, 2010

ESF Students to Present Park Designs on November 1

The public is invited to welcome landscape architecture students from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry on Monday evening, November 1, 2010 at 6:30 PM at the Montezuma Town Hall.  The students will share their visions for the proposed development of 140 acres of town-owned parkland with historic and natural resources in the Town of Montezuma. 

On October 1, 2010, forty-three ESF students and college staff made a preliminary visit to tour the park site followed by a meeting with design committee  members at the town hall for the purpose of developing design ideas for the Heritage Park. The design process was initiated by Supervisor John Malenick, a graduate of the ESF collage. He contacted ESF's Center for Community Design Research to request design assistance from landscape architecture faculty and students to help prepare design studies.  He realized that the time had come to look at the potential the parkland held economically and recreational for the community.  

It was important to the supervisor that community members be involved in the park design process from the very early stages, and he requested in February 2010 the town board appoint a design committee and encouraged interested residents to become involved. The primary goal for the design committee working with the students was to look for ways to approach the park development based on an understanding of community values and needs, as well as an analysis of park site conditions and Erie Canal history to use as the basis of dialogue with the broader community. Academically, the primary goals were to provide an opportunity for design students to learn and practice skills of engaging community members in the design process, to understand the important roles that community members have in creating place-appropriate designs, and to apply emerging design and graphic skills on a project that would benefit our community.

It is anticipated that the collaboration between the landscape architecture students and the Town of Montezuma community will produce a series of useful outcomes, including site analysis and inventory, preliminary lists of activities and program, and alternative design ideas around which to base in-depth design proposals.  Most importantly, it is the intent of the Design Committee that this will begin the process of additional involvement within the  community members and encourage dialogue and participation to encourage development and pride in the community.

Come and see what the students have designed. Community members will have an opportunity to offer suggestions on their designs ideas and the students will return with the final project in a few weeks. This is the beginning of a community dialogue to have input on the development of the park. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Montezuma's Canal History: Where it All Began

Both photos are located on the west side of Route 90 
near the present-day firehouse. 
This is the site of the junction of the Erie and Cayuga-Seneca Canals. 
The Exchange Hotel in the older picture burned in 1917. The abutement 
from the crossover bridge 
still remains today near the entrance of the trail
 leading into the proposed Montezuma Heritage Park

On August 14, 2010, the Montezuma Historical Society joined with the Old Brutus Historical Society and Lock 52 Historical Society to offer a combined historic site canal tour in Cayuga County.  Representatives from Jordan also joined us to begin the tour at the Jordan/Weedsport line at the site of Lock 51.  Both guided and self-guided tours were scheduled for the day. Mike Riley, Canal Historian lead the guided tours with five stops between Jordan and Montezuma. 

The event was part of the statewide 5th Annual Canal Splash of locally organized events to celebrate the history, recreational appeal and beauty of the New York Canal System and Erie Canalway Trail.  Folks got to visit many of the sites starting at the trail head pictured here that will be featured in the Heritage Park, including the magnificent Richmond Aqueduct pictured in our blog heading. 

For more information, including downloads on the historic sites in Cayuga County visit the Canal Splash blog which will continue to be updated with new information for tours whether you are looking to explore the sites on your own or join in future tours; visit:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Have A Dream –A New Vision for Building a Vibrant Community

I last posted here with regard to the adventures of a 2009 Archaeological Dig held in Montezuma, NY, along the original Erie Canal that opened here in 1820. We've completed the dig and are awaiting the results of the report. This blog has now evolved into the next generation with a new face, a new name, and great adventure that will feature the plans and development for a public park.

I’ve long held a dream and vision that Montezuma’s historic canal sites and rich natural resources that once made this a booming canal town could help us once again become a strong and vibrant community.

Our historic and natural resources offer us such a rich opportunity to transform 140 acres of town parkland along Seneca River shore front into a public space that connects to the hamlet of Montezuma. The park would be part of the other regionally significant areas that celebrates our history and natural resources, provide green space for the growth of our town, and open the area to the Seneca River for recreation. 

A Heritage Park will provide a balanced mix of public access including:

  • Creating pedestrian and bicycle trails from the Hamlet along Routes 90 and 31 to the Seneca River
  • Provide a safe and enjoyable park experience for residents, and tourists;
  • Blend smoothly with a vibrant mix of residential, restaurant, historic canal sites;
  • Complement and link to adjacent natural resources, canal heritage sites, trails, parks and other tourist attractions in the Finger Lakes;
  • Take advantage of the natural scenic view from the Seneca River waterfront;
  • Protect and enhance the natural environment;
  • Protect, preserve and enhance the town’s historic sites

To this end, the Heritage Park Design Committee formed in 2010, supports the community planning and development of the Montezuma Heritage Park and proposes to:

  • Provide for quality public space developed on 140 acres of Town owned property along the Seneca River;
  • Develop safe and accessible pedestrian trails;
  • Provide access to the site from Route 90, Route 31 and the Seneca River
  • Provide adequate parking areas from Route 90 and Route 31
  • Provide adequate dockage access from the waterfront
  • Seek sound funding structures to support the town for the park’s development and maintenance.

Over 185 years ago Dr. Peter Clarke and Comfort Tyler, the first settlers to the area, envisioned Montezuma being part of Governor Dewitt Clinton's dream -- opening the western country to settlers and offering cheap and safe ways of carrying produce to market. They dreamed of a hamlet that would grow and flourish into a vital, prosperous community.  The original canal, that seems so small to us now, only four feet deep and 40 feet wide, became the Grand Canal of our forefathers.  It became responsible for the unprecedented development and prosperity that came not only to New York State, but also to the whole nation in the first half of the nineteenth century and a model for canal-building throughout the world! Clinton’s dream was viewed by many, as imaginings of a most visionary dreamer, but the dream came true, and we have reason to feel pride in what the canals have done for our town, state and nation. 

The writer of the “New York Memorial,” the chief instrument to mold public sentiment for the early canal, was gifted with prophecy when he said, “It remains for a free state to create a new era in history, and to erect a work more stupendous, more magnificent and more beneficial, than heretofore has been achieved by the human race.”

In 1903, the people of the State decided once again to enlarge the canal system in construction of what has been generally termed the “Barge Canal.” This was a turning point for Montezuma as the Erie and Cayuga-Seneca canals were abandoned, so was much of the town’s economic base. Today, the name “Barge Canal” is no longer an accurate description of the marine activity on New York’s canals, now known as the “New York State Canal System.”  Trains and trucks have taken over the transport of cargo that once moved on barges along the canals, but the canals remain a viable waterway for navigation.

While the barges have declined, this network of inland waterways is fast becoming a popular tourism destination each year that can be tapped into for pleasure from the canal waterfront, as well as visitors by land, who follow the historic trade route that made New York the “Empire State.” Montezuma can become a vital part of the canal corridor once again with our important historic sites that uniquely span the entire NYS Canal era. My dream is for the town to  create a new era in history that can revitalize Montezuma into a vibrant, rebirthed community, a place we are proud to offer enjoyment for generations to come and to foster the preservation of our historic legacy.  

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Next Step....

The Montezuma Historical Society has scheduled a Cleaning Party on Saturday, March 20 and 27. Mr. Babson will be joining us at the Montezuma Town Hall to give us direction on the next phase of this project.  We'll be bringing our toothbrushes (never to be used again for tooth cleaning purposes) and dish pans ready to scrub clean the artifacts uncovered at last Fall's dig.  

The glass and ceramics will be cleaned with water; the metal will be dry brushed. The artifacts will be placed in cardboard trays to dry for a week. We will then return on March 27th to place them in archival acid free, zip-loc bags of various sizes and classes (ceramics, glass, iron nails, other iron, other metals) by provences.

We look forward to working with Mr. Babson again, and I'm sure we'll learn much more about what was found last Fall.