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Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Announces Progress on Finger Lakes Museum

FLREDC Priority Project Offering New Programs, Construction Moving Forward
(February 06, 2014)

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Announces Progress on Finger Lakes Museum

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) today announced that the Finger Lakes Museum, an initiative to create an educational institution that will showcase the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of New York’s vast Finger Lakes Region, is moving forward with two new programs that will be offered this spring at its Discovery Campus. A new development team hired by the museum is also in place and on track to meet fundraising milestones. This FLREDC Round I priority project was funded in part through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

“The Finger Lakes Museum will tell the environmental and cultural story of the region and inspire conservation for future generations,” said Joel Seligman, Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and University of Rochester President. “This is a FLREDC priority project that supports the region’s tourism and arts strategy, and we are pleased to see this project moving forward and offering programming to visitors.”

“Our plan for the Finger Lakes Museum is to develop a premier attraction that will draw visitors from the region and tourists from afar by providing high-quality educational and entertaining indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs,” said Finger Lakes Museum Board President John Adamski. “We are proud to have been chosen by the council as a priority project and we're grateful for the funding that we've been awarded.”

Last spring, the museum’s general contractor, LeChase Construction Services LLC, began work on the first phase of museum project, which is the Discovery Campus in Branchport (Yates County) at the north end of Keuka Lake’s “West Branch.” The former elementary school is being transformed into a research and education center, where—in collaboration with other regional academic institutions—educational programs will be developed in compliance with state curriculum standards for kindergarten through grade 12 students, which can then be beamed into classrooms via the internet. Keuka College has already signed on as a partner. The programs will be produced in the center’s in-house radio and television production studios.

The project is being partially funded by New York State through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The project received $2.28 million from Empire State Development (ESD), Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) in 2011 and $578,000 from New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), ESD and OPRHP in 2012. The museum was chartered by the State Education Department in 2009 and was designated as a not-for-profit organization by the Internal Revenue Service later that year.

Next on the museum’s schedule is the construction of an outdoor aviary that will house two live bald eagles. An indoor eagle exhibit will tell the story of how a national symbol was saved from the brink of extinction. Other programs that are currently underway include:

  • Foodways: An earth-to-table program that has already been developed and presented to 4th and 5th graders in the Penn Yan and Canandaigua school districts.
  • Vine-to-Wine: A two-part documentary film that tells the story of grape-growing and winemaking in the Finger Lakes Region.
  • St. Ayle Skiff: A program that teaches the art of wooden boatbuilding from scratch.

The Finger Lakes Museum also recently hired Philip Lentini as its Vice President for Advancement. He brings over 20 years in fundraising, marketing and not-for-profit management skills to the museum and formerly served in the same position at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. So far, the Finger Lakes Museum has raised a total of $1.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions toward the Discovery Campus.

“This exciting project promises to be a destination for tourists, an educational asset, and an economic driver that will showcase the best of Yates County and the entire Finger Lakes region,” said Steve Griffin, Finger Lakes Economic Development Center CEO and executive committee member of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

Once completed, it is projected that the Finger Lakes Museum will attract an average of 129,000 visitors per year. Construction of the campus is estimated to create 330 jobs. The museum will employ 37 full time employees and it is estimated that the region could experience a sustained economic benefit of $10 million per year and add more than 63 jobs in the tourism, education, service, retail and hospitality sectors.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, “Governor Cuomo is taking our tourism efforts to a new level and the new Finger Lakes Museum is a great example of getting family-friendly attractions in place to draw visitors. The Governor’s Regional Council initiative and ESD are strong supporters of this project which will highlight the Finger Lakes brand and bring jobs and dollars to the region.”

Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) President & CEO Matthew Driscoll said, “The Discovery Campus of the Finger Lakes Museum will feature sustainable green projects which were awarded $381,000 from the state’s Green Innovation Grant Program. A rain-absorbing green roof and restoration of the streambank leading into Keuka Lake will not only help control stormwater on the campus, they will also be teaching models in the Museum’s instructional and recreational programs.”

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “I applaud Governor Cuomo and the Regional Economic Development Council for helping swiftly move forward plans to create the Finger Lakes Museum. Along with its gorgeous parks, its wineries and restaurants, its diverse recreational opportunities, the museum will be another great reason to visit the Finger Lakes.”

New York State Council on the Arts Chair Aby Rosen said, “The Finger Lakes Museum strongly supports the regional economic prosperity goals of Governor Cuomo and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and New York State Council on the Arts’ mission to support arts, culture and heritage activities serving the state’s citizens and visitors.”