On Thursday, the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to select Keuka Lake State Park in Yates County as the future home of the Finger Lakes Museum. The vote was unanimous with one abstention.
After nearly a year of evaluating 19 sites that were originally submitted, the Site Selection Committee, under the direction of chairman Don Naetzker, recommended two sites for the Board’s consideration: Seneca Lake State Park in and adjacent to the City of Geneva, and Keuka Lake State Park near Branchport.
The idea to create a museum to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological history of the 9,000 square-mile Finger Lakes Region was first floated in a Life in the Finger Lakes magazine article by John Adamski in March 2008.
After enlisting ConsultEcon Inc., a Bostonbased market research firm in March, it was determined that the project is viable at either site although for different reasons. Board president, John Adamski added, “While the Seneca Lake site has significant advantages like a central location, the Board determined that the Keuka Lake site more closely met the requirements that were originally established in the Strategic Plan, especially as they relate to natural history programming.”
Among the advantages that he said tipped the scales in favor of the Keuka Lake site are the following:
• There is 700 feet of intimate lakefront with a level, sandy beach.
• The natural history element of the project is predicted to draw the most visitors. The rolling, hilly terrain, ravines, brook, woods, and areas of natural succession that exist there are ideal for wildlife exhibits in natural habitats.
• Several hundred acres of land are available for wildlife habitats and interpretive use—now or in the future.
• A 350-car paved parking lot already exists.
• Keuka College has offered to add Museum Sciences to its curriculum
and become a partner in the educational aspect of the Museum.
• Yates County and Keukaarea business leaders have pledged over $2 million in start-up funding.
In addition, Adamski said, “The Branchport Elementary School, which is presently vacant, has been purchased by the Finger Lakes Visitors Association for use as the Museum’s base of operation during the project’s start-up phases. The building will provide 15,000 square feet for business offices and initial programming as well as storage for the acquisition of artifacts and collections.” Its 13-acre site provides navigable water access to Keuka Lake.
He also stated, “Finger Lakes State Parks and the Finger Lakes Museum Project will undertake a joint master plan for the entire 620acre park. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation has been very cooperative and enthused over the proposal and we look forward to working with them to bring the project to fruition.”
Although the Museum will be built on lands leased from Finger Lakes State Parks, it will remain a privately-owned and mostly privately-funded not-for-profit educational institution.