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Historian’s Corner Blog | Montezuma Historical Society Montezuma Historical Society

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Heritage Park’s Swamp Hermit Paradise Project Update

Heritage Park’s Swamp Hermit Paradise Project Update


DAY 1 — off to a great start!

I wrote earlier about a beautiful site in Montezuma Heritage Park where our Design Committee would like to build an outlook area for birders and nature lovers to visit. The project has become a reality due to the generous donations of 84 Lumber,  Sennett; Home Depot, Aurelius, and our latest contributor Secor Lumber, Savannah; and the hard work of some of our most dedicated  Friends of the Park volunteers.

Mike Riley, Tom Fitzsimmons, Jim Decker, Paul Baker, and Stan Longyear set six posts today (June 21, 2014) for the decking portion of the project near the site of the former Enlarged Erie Canal dry dock.

The site is named for Foster Parker, a Montezuma naturalist, who left a legacy of the love for nature in this beautiful area.  The Friends of the Park are proud to enhance this site for the community and visitors to also appreciate what Foster considered “Paradise.” You can read more about his life and love of the land on my post here.

Here are some updated photos taken by Bunny Baker from the the second day”s work on the project.

DAY 2 -- lookin' good guys!

DAY 2 — great job, guys!


A beautiful morning in the park. I love my job — I get to take pictures of people working! Stan and Mike worked on the railing today. Bill Breen, a master woodworker had been out for a ride in the park picking blackberries and stopped by to check out the work.


Here Dan Randolph, Paul Baker and Stan Longyear are working on building the steps.




(Updated August 23, 2014) Our latest donation of material was received from Secor Lumber. With their generous donation volunteers Dave Colvin and Stan Longyear put the finishing touches on the project in less than two months of its start! Hand railings and benches have been added.  Later in the fall volunteers plan to do some brush cutting to make the view even clearer. Now it’s your turn — take a walk out on Trail #6, and enjoy the sites and sounds of nature. We hope you enjoy our latest addition to the park.

If you are a birder, we would love to hear about your sitings. Recently Park Friends, Anita Messina and Terry Warner enjoyed a 40 -minute outing in the park, and spotted or heard eighteen birds: Catbird, Tufted Titmouse, Cedar Waxwings, Tree Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbirds, House Finch, Tree Swallows, Alder Flycatcher (heard), Goldfinch, Chickadee, Yellow Warbler, Red-tailed Hawk, Crows, White-crowned Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Mourning Dove, Yellow-Shafted Flicker and Nuthatch.

The trail is located off Chapman Road; park near the kiosk and walk south to the Trail Marker #6 on the east side of the road. Follow the trail until you come to the former site of Meil’s Drydock. The marsh is just south of this site. Pick up a copy of “For the Birds in Cayuga County,” a handy birdwatching guide and checklist to use while visiting the site.


Support for Heritage Park and Trails in Montezuma

Support for Heritage Park and Trails in Montezuma

UTAP-4 In 2011, the Town of Montezuma received word it had been selected by Parks & Trails, NY to receive technical assistance from staff through their Healthy Trails, Healthy People program. This program is aimed at helping New Yorkers develop more active communities with recreational, economic and quality of life benefits.

Proposed by the Town with support from the Cayuga County Health and Human Services Department and the Montezuma Historical Society, their assistance is helping the Town to create and promote a network of trails in Montezuma Heritage Park linking the hamlet of Montezuma with the Seneca River and several Erie Canal sites.

As the Heritage Park Design Committee worked to complete an EPF Planning Project for Heritage Park, Parks and Trails, NY,  has been very helpful in responding to questions as they came up. PTNY has also helped to fund projects for the park that included developing a logo, park brochure, an interpretive historic photo portfolio and website development. A grant program, Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work & Play through the Cayuga County Health Department has assisted us with funding for signage, benches, kiosks and  supporting the Town to adopt a Complete Streets Policy for future planning to make roads and sidewalks safer for all users.

UTAP-1Most recently, our latest assistance was received from PTNY staff through a Universal Trail Assistance Program (UTAP). Fran Gotcsik and Jamie Meerdink came out to the Park to conduct an assessment on the Byron Lapp Memorial Trail. UTAP was developed through a national cooperative effort, involving federal and state land agencies and organizations advocating for persons with disabilities.  UTAP provides standardized, objective information on major trail conditions that affect access — grade, cross slope, surface type, obstacles, and trail width — so that everyone can decide for themselves whether a trail meets their interests and abilities.  The Federal Highway Administration, NYS Department of Health, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation all endorse UTAP.  The accessibility-related trail condition information collected from this assessment will be of assistance to our Heritage Park Design Committee working towards creating on-site accessibility signage as well as discover areas where trail improvements could be made to increase accessibility or address unsafe conditions.

UTAP-2I was amazed at thoroughness and depth of information gathered using the “tool kit” of various gauges Fran and Jamie brought with them as Stan and I covered every inch of the trail with them from High Street to Chapman Road. In September, Fran will be back to complete the rest of the trail with us from Chapman Road to the Richmond Aqueduct. Armed with Fran’s handwritten notations and measurements on a special form, Jamie returned to Albany to plug this information into their software program to give us a detailed report.  Our goal, along with Parks & UTAP-3Trails New York is to increase the accessibility of outdoor trails for people with physical limitations that affect the quality of their recreational experience. PTNY ultimately would like to make trail accessibility information available on trailhead signage, websites, maps or trail guides for trails throughout New York.  Here in Montezuma with this information, we are one step closer to providing objective information about trail conditions for everyone, and better equipped to shape future construction and maintenance decisions towards increasing accessibility. THANKS, PTNY!!!


Canal Splash Historic Walking Tour and Community Days

Canal Splash Historic Walking Tour and Community Days




The Montezuma Fire Department, Historical Society and VFW has planned a weekend event for the community with the following activities scheduled throughout the weekend. Come out and support these local community organizations and enjoy the day!


  • Fireman’s Auxiliary Cake Booth (for donations contact Town Clerk, June Smith at 776-8844)
  • Vendors – $20 for all 3 days in advance or day of event; call Craig at 315-604-1997 or Joe at 315-651-3994
  • Hamburgs and Hot Dogs by Fire Department
  • Saturday only – VFW Chicken BBQ
  • Life Net – Come see the medical helicopter located at the Town Hall Ball Field
  • Saturday only — Montezuma Historical Society Canal Splash – Historic Walking Tour in Montezuma Heritage Park – 9 AM meet at the High Street trailhead; a guided tour will be led by Canal Historian, Mike Riley to the Richmond Aqueduct and other historic sites in the park. The tour is usually about 3 hours, but can you can go only as far as you want on the tour.
Montezuma Heritage Park is “for the Birds!”

Montezuma Heritage Park is “for the Birds!”

forthebirdsbroI just picked up new brochures at the Cayuga County Tourism office called,  ‘For the Birds: Bird Watching in Cayuga County.” This colorfully feather-designed brochure is full of information to get started on bird watching. The bird guide features a check list of 35 birds identified in colorful photographs, a description of the “Hot Spots” in Cayuga, Seneca, Wayne Tompkins and Oswego Counties. There are plenty of tips for getting started including how to prepare and find birds in Cayuga County. There’s no lack of different bird species in this area. Did you know that Cayuga County offers 350 or more “Life List” birds?

Montezuma Heritage Park is listed in the brochure as a prime location for viewing marshland birds and nature trails throughout the deep woodland areas. The 140 acre-park borders for the birds2the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge that provides resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Montezuma is situated in the middle of one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway. All four seasons bring plenty of opportunities to enjoy birding and wildlife activities, and right now summer is showcasing nesting activities with plenty of new babies.

Soon you’ll be able to look out over the marshland area on the new lookout deck our Friends of the Park volunteers have been building, and use this handy checklist to start you on a great bird watching adventure.  They’ve made great progress in just two weekends. Thanks to 84 Lumber and Home Depot materials were donated, and it should be ready to use soon.

The brochures will be available at both the High Street and Chapman Road kiosks. Why not get out and start checking off your bird list soon!

Student Scholarships Awarded for Community Service

Student Scholarships Awarded for Community Service

Zachery Recckio, Kourtney Verdi and Ben Longyear helping out on Clean Sweep Day, Saturday, April 26

Zachery Recckio, Kourtney Verdi and Ben Longyear helping out on Clean Sweep Day, Saturday, April 26

The Montezuma Aqueduct 5K Run Committee has two new members joining their planning team for this year’s Aqueduct 5K Run/Walk to be held on Saturday, October 11, 2014. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded by the Montezuma Historical Society and Town of Montezuma to PBCS Junior students, Kourtney Verdi and Zachery Recckio who have agreed to be be co-chairs for the Kids’ Fun Run to be held following the 5K event.  Kourtney is the daughter of Patty and Joe Verdi and Zach is the son of Dawn and Chris Recckio. Both students came highly recommended by the school for their ability to serve on the committee. It’s a win-win opportunity  for our community, and offers experience for the students to learn about their Erie Canal heritage, volunteerism, and build on leadership skills. Read More