August 16, 2012
Albany, NY

Lieutenant Governor Duffy Announces Finger Lakes Museum Breaks Ground on Discovery Campus

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Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy today joined local officials to break ground on the Finger Lakes Museum, a new educational and cultural center that will be located on the Discovery Campus in Branchport, along Keuka Lake.


The project was identified by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council as a priority project in 2011 and was awarded $2.3 million to support the renovation of the former Branchport Elementary School into a historical center highlighting the Finger Lakes region.


"The Finger Lakes Museum is a transformational project that will create much-needed jobs and provide a significant boost for the tourism industry and local-area businesses," said Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy. "The Finger Lakes region is one of the most beautiful areas of New York State, as well as our country, and the Museum will serve to reinforce its history and aesthetic beauty. The Regional Council demonstrated great forward-thinking vision in identifying this priority project that uses our past to build a path toward a brighter economic future. We are extremely pleased to see it breaking ground and moving forward with constructing the Discovery Campus, and I look forward to coming back to visit the completed Museum and learn even more about the history and culture of my home-town region."


The Discovery Campus is the first of a two phase multi-million dollar indoor/outdoor natural and cultural complex highlighting the Finger Lakes region. The project is sponsored by The Finger Lakes Museum and will create and retain 100 direct jobs at the Museum, create 330 construction jobs, and generate an estimated $12 to $15 million annually in the region through increased tourism, which will spur local economic activity with area businesses and benefit the surrounding communities.


"The Finger Lakes Museums Business Plan sets forth a series of small steps leading to the creation of a premier educational institution with goals of stewardship, entertainment and regional economic health," said Don Naetzker, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Museum. "Establishing the Museums Discovery Campus in the quintessential Finger Lakes hamlet of Branchport is a satisfying first step in ensuring the future of this pristine region for generations to come."


"The Finger Lakes Museums Discovery Campus is the first step in a multi-phased plan to develop a cultural and natural history museum to showcase the Finger Lakes Region," said John Adamski, President, Finger Lakes Museum Board of Trustees. "The Discovery Campus will serve as an educational center for all ages and provide experiential programming and immersive demonstrations. I humbly thank Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Duffy, and the three New York State agencies that are helping to fund this project. I also want to thank the hundreds of individual supporters who have invested in this project as well."


Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each regions strategic plans. The Museum was awarded funding from three state agencies, including $1.5 million from Empire State Development (ESD), $400,000 from New York State Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and $381,000 from the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC).


Kenneth Adams, President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development said, "This is great news for the Finger Lakes region, as this project creates much-needed jobs and will boost the regions tourism industry, which will generate significant economic activity and help foster growth for local businesses. The Regional Council smartly identified and invested in this as a priority project for the region, and by breaking ground today the Finger Lakes Museum is one step closer to creating the hundreds of jobs and generating millions of dollars of revenue the regional economy needs."


Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation said, "I applaud the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for recognizing the positive impact the Finger Lakes Museum will have on the region. Parks, museums and cultural destinations are fundamental building blocks of vibrant, livable communities. Establishing the Finger Lakes Museum will give people one more reason to live in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of New York."


Matthew Driscoll, President and CEO of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. said, "The Green Innovation Grant Program is providing a $381,000 grant for the Finger Lakes Museum to create a rain-absorbing, garden roof, and a porous pavement parking lot, along with stream restoration and protection on the museums Discovery Campus. These are the kinds of innovative, eco-friendly projects that can be used throughout New York State to manage stormwater more cheaply and efficiently. These projects will not only help protect the environment, they will also help create jobs. Economic development was one of the primary goals of Governor Cuomo when he created his Regional Economic Development initiative last year and the Finger Lakes Museum is now well on its way to reaching that goal."


ESDs $1.5 million will help to offset the costs of acquiring and renovating the Branchport Elementary School site and the construction of the Discovery Campus. EFCs Green Innovation Grant Program will create an innovative and interpretive storm water management system, including a porous pavement parking lot which will absorb rainwater and reduce the runoff of polluted water into Sugar Creek. A rain-absorbing "green roof" and eco-friendly bio-filters will further treat storm water runoff, stream banks along the creek will be restored and protected, and OPRHPs resources will be used to increase public access to the waterways at the Discovery Campus including the creation of a waterfront program center and a hand-carry boat launch.


In May, final design plans and a virtual tour of the exterior and interior improvements of the Discovery Campus were unveiled and can be seen online at The Finger Lakes Museums website:


Senator Tom OMara said, "The Finger Lakes Museum is a transformational project for the region, and a prime example of how Governor Cuomo's regional councils are working to revitalize New York's economy. The jobs and economic activity that this project is bringing is welcome news and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on tourism throughout the region for years to come."


Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said, "Job creation in upstate New York must be our number one priority and I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued commitment toward this goal. The Finger Lakes Museum will put on display all that makes our region unique, and serve as a gateway to many wonderful destinations throughout the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and the upstate region. I commend the Finger Lakes Regional Council for recognizing the potential of this project."


Taylor Fitch, Chairman of the Yates County Legislature said, "It is difficult to understate the impact the Finger Lakes Museum will have on Yates County, as well as this entire region. Tourism is a key component of our economy and my colleagues on the Finger Lakes Regional Council are to be commended for making this one of our signature projects last year. Along with all the stakeholders involved in this project, I look forward to continuing to work with the State of New York to see this project come to fruition."


Steve Griffin, CEO of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center said, "The newfound cooperation the regional council process ushered in paved the way for a project like the Finger Lakes Museum to become a priority for an entire region. Governor Cuomo has wisely recognized that a one-size-fits-all economic development strategy for our state does not work. This project and the millions of dollars in tourism revenue it will create annually proves that this bottom-up approach is better for all of New York."


Cynthia Oswald, President of the Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce said, "Our cultural and tourism assets are among Finger Lakes region's greatest strengths. Governor Cuomo's regional council process was conceived to allow community stakeholders to dictate to Albany where the potential for economic growth lies within our state. That the Finger Lakes Museum emerged as a priority project for our regional council in 2011 demonstrates that this strategy for job creation and economic growth is working."


To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit