Recognizing the significance of the historic resources in the park, the Town Board appointed a committee in 2010 to help with plans for park. The committee sees the overall objectives for Heritage Park as opportunities to explain the history, create water access, youth development, community involvement, preservation, and marketing opportunities to Naturalists. It’s recognized that there is significant potential for tourism as a growing part of the canal system.
The committee is working to recommend and implement enhancements to the Park that will provide:
Since most of the Society’s programming and advocacy centers around the historic resources in the park, the logical next step was to form a non-profit support group for the Park. Much has been accomplished as a result of the tremendous effort invested by this dedicated, all-volunteer group to help our community develop the park and bring our heritage back to life. To support the efforts of this grass-roots effort, join us to become a member or volunteer today!
Our volunteers are making a difference in bringing maximum value to our community.
View here a video of our Friends at work in the Park.
In 2010, the Town was awarded an Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grant through New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to create a plan for the park. The Project was directed by the Park Design Committee working with the consulting services of Doug Gerber, RLA, and Jo Anne Gagliano, RLA of EDR Companies. Joining the project were Maren King, Assistant Director of the Center for Community Design & Research (CCDR), and students from the State University College of Environmental Science & Forestry School of Landscape Architecture. EDR, in concert with CCDR consulting performed an inventory and analysis, developed project goals, program options, and alternative conceptual approaches.
The Planning Grant project was completed in 2017 with the final phase of the project designing an Interpretive Plan. Eleven connecting trails were identified and are open to users in the park with several historic canal-related sites that will be interpreted as funding becomes available. Through funding from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and Cayuga County Health Network, twenty-six new trail markers have been installed by volunteers.
Three primary sites were identified by the Design Committee to be further developed in Park in this final phase:
Byron Lapp Memorial Trailhead & Butterfly Garden on High Street has been designed to include additional parking areas with a landscaping layout including a walkway leading from parking and kiosk areas to the butterfly garden, gazebo, and the mural placed on the deck of an interpretative canal boat. The butterfly garden was expanded with new plants through the Seneca Park Zoo Butterfly Beltway program in 2019. Creating walkways that are handicap accessible for everyone to enjoy the butterfly garden would be a good use of this area and entrance to the park, and an asset to the community. A brick walkway has been started with donated bricks that will be replaced with purchased engraved bricks as a fundraiser for the project. A row of trees has been planted funded by the Montezuma Historical Society along the north between the private owner and town property. The Friends of the Park Design Committee plan to work with Cornell Design Connect in the Fall of 2019 to make further plans to develop the site. Cornell Design Connect is a student-based organization providing practical experience to students through cooperation with local municipalities and non-profit organizations while providing design and planning services for these groups that may not have the resources to hire professionals.
2. Paper Mill and Trail Clearing were done in 2017, coordinated by the Design Committee working with Josh Lindstrom, to complete his Eagle Scout status. Twenty volunteers worked during Canal Clean Sweep to clear the site and create a walking trail around the mill for a better viewing visitor experience. The Montezuma Fiber Mill has an important unique story to tell about the use of the cattails for making the paper from the surrounding swampland. This is helping to preserve the remains and its story. Further interpretation signage will be developed to illustrate the papermaking process using flag to produce cardboard-like paper.
3. Route 31 Entrance & Parking Lot — The Town of Montezuma was awarded a $147,425 2018 Consolidated Funding matching grant to develop a parking lot on the northern portion of the Montezuma Heritage Park where the park connects with the NYS Canalway Trail on NYS Route 31. In addition to parking, there will also be a waterless handicapped accessible bathroom installed and a directional kiosk to assist visitors in finding the historic aspects of the park.
Also located at the site is a mural recently installed depicting the Richmond Aqueduct: Then and Now, that will identify with signage the entrance to the park and parking site visible from Route 31. It will also give easy walking access to a proposed canoe/kayak launching site on the Seneca River.
This will link our community with others across New York, interpreting the history, beauty, and the critical role the Erie Canal played in the nation’s development providing healthy recreational opportunities to enjoy in the Park for travelers and visitors today.