Security At St. Lawrence-FDR Project Enhanced; New Hawkins Point Visitors Center Planned

Bob Hadler
(315) 764-0226, x300

May 24, 2002


MASSENA—The New York Power Authority will restrict public access to the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project facilities on Barnhart Island—including the popular visitors center—to assure the safety of the public and its staff members as well as the vital facilities located there.

“Damage to our facilities from any kind of attack could have disastrous long-term consequences, especially regarding our ability to serve Alcoa and General Motors,” said Randy Crissman, the Power Authority’s regional manager for Northern New York. “Losing their electricity for even a short time would be devastating to the industries and the jobs they provide.”

Ernie LaBaff, president emeritus of the Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers International Union, said, “In the world we live in today, we must take extraordinary precautions to protect our way of life. We fully support the Power Authority’s decision to restrict access in order to insure the integrity of the St. Lawrence-FDR Project and guarantee that Massena’s vital industries continue to have a secure supply of electricity.”

Crissman said, “The Power Authority has conducted a thorough security analysis of its facilities statewide. As a result of this assessment and the continued threat of terrorism and random acts of violence, we are permanently restricting public access beyond the security checkpoint on the plant access road.”

In addition to the power dam itself and the visitors center, the restricted area contains the project’s switchyard and the transmission lines that transport electricity out from the plant.

The Power Authority plans to construct a new visitors center at Hawkins Point, which has an outstanding view of the entire power dam.

In the meantime, the current visitors center will remain closed except to school groups, who may continue to visit by reservation only. The Power Authority will set up a temporary exhibit in the St. Lawrence Seaway visitors center at the Eisenhower Lock. It will feature a movie describing the power project. Visitors will be encouraged to go to Hawkins Point for a panoramic view of the power dam.

Sandy Cooke, supervisor of the Town of Massena, said, “Tourism is vitally important to our economy and a new visitors center at Hawkins Point will certainly make that whole area a more important tourist destination. The new center would be added to the existing attractions at the Seaway’s Eisenhower Lock and the Robert Moses State Park as well as the new aquarium at Robinsons Bay and some new ideas we have in mind for Massena Point.”

“Naturally, from a tourism perspective, we’re disappointed that the Power Authority is keeping the current visitors center closed, but we certainly understand the need to protect the St. Lawrence Project,” said Paul Haggett, executive director of the Massena Chamber of Commerce.  “Hawkins Point is an ideal site for a new center and I’m glad the Power Authority is committed to putting it there.”

The sentiment was echoed by Karen St. Hilare, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. “We never like to see one of our tourist attractions closed, but I think the Power Authority is doing the right thing and I’ll be happy to see the new visitors center at Hawkins Point.”