The North Country Regional Economic Development Council has awarded $143,000 in state funds and tax breaks to the Raquette River Blueway Corridor project, which will be used to create improvements to increase tourism and promote use of the river.
The 148-mile corridor project, which includes areas of St. Lawrence, Franklin and Hamilton counties, has been in the works for more than a decade, but progress has been slow until recent months. The corridor was named a priority project by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council in October, which paved the way for the grant and will make access to further state funds easier in the future.
Colton will use some of the funds to create a Stone Valley Information Center at the town museum.
The town also has nearly completed construction on the first of 15 informational kiosks that will be placed along the corridor. The prototype is on Main Street, and includes a map of the corridor for visitors.
Potsdam Planning and Development Coordinator Frederick J. Hanss oversees the funding for the project.
I think its great, he said. Were really pleased. Quite a few very good projects were funded.
In Potsdam, a portion of the funds will be used to create a riverwalk trail that will cross over Fall Island, following the river and connecting to walking paths at Ives Park and Clarkson University.
The Potsdam riverwalk trail is one of those projects that is more local than one of those corridor-long projects, Mr. Hanss said. It really does create a sort of pedestrian hub downtown, and we really hope that this will be good for residents of the village.
The state funds also will be used to create an oral history of electric power along the river. The Raquette River has long been a source of electricity, with 27 plants in operation.
A lot of people who played pretty prominent roles in the construction of hydroelectric facilities have passed away, Mr. Hanss said.
Historians will interview those who worked to install the early hydroelectric facilities and record their stories.
Architectural and engineering work on the Potsdam riverwalk will begin soon, and construction on the informational kiosks along the corridor will start next year.