Power Authority Unveils
Plans for $5 Million Visitors Center
(315) 764-0226 ext. 300
January 29, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CANTON – The New York Power Authority Thursday
unveiled plans for a new $5 million visitors center for its St.
Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in Massena.
Addressing the St. Lawrence County Chamber of
Commerce meeting here, Robert Hadler, the Power Authority’s
community relations manager at St. Lawrence-FDR, said that
construction of the facility would begin this spring.
“Our trustees have approved the construction of
this new facility and we expect to be going to bid very shortly,”
said Hadler. “We want to have shovels in the ground as soon as the
weather permits and we have every expectation that we will cut the
ribbon and open the center in time for the 2005 tourism season.”
The former visitors center, located in the
Barnhart Island end of the Robert Moses-Robert Saunders Power Dam,
was a popular tourism stop for visitors to the North Country,
hosting over 5 million visitors since it opened in 1959.
It was temporarily closed to the public
immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and
permanently closed after a thorough security analysis of all Power
“We announced then, in May 2002, that we would
build a new visitors center at Hawkins Point,” said Hadler. “This
new site, facing the power dam across the project’s tailrace, will
provide a dramatic new vista for the thousands of people we expect
to visit the new center. This will be a major addition to the
tourist attractions in the St. Lawrence Valley.”
Paul Haggett, executive director of the Massena
Chamber of Commerce, said the announcement was a major plus for the
“Hawkins Point is an ideal site for this
visitors center and I can hardly wait for the grand opening,” said
Karen St. Hilaire, executive director of the St.
Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, said, “We were disappointed
when the Power Authority was forced to close the old visitors
center, but today’s announcement more than makes up for that
disappointment. We’re very much looking forward to opening day.”
Sandy Cook, Town of Massena Supervisor, said,
“Tourism is a very important part of our economy and this $5 million
announcement is just the great news that we’ve been waiting for.”
Ken MacDonnell, mayor of the Village of Massena,
echoed those sentiments. “I know a lot of people, residents and
visitors alike, have been disappointed since the center was closed,
but this new facility will put a whole new face on our tourism
Ernie LaBaff, president emeritus of the
Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers International Union, said, “This
is a great way to restore a major tourist attraction while assuring
the safety of this absolutely vital electricity production
Hadler said the new building will incorporate
all of the exhibits from the current visitors center, exhibits that
were installed during a $1.5 million renovation and upgrade that was
completed in July 2000.
A Watertown architectural contractor, Bernier
Carr & Associates is working on a final design for a partial
two-story building with the main floor dedicated to public displays,
a theater and a community room. The basement will house staff
offices, storage and mechanical and utility rooms.
The new center will also have a new outdoor area
to host community events.
The site of the new center, Hawkins Point, will
also be enhanced by improved boat access and parking. The
improvements are included in the new 50-year license granted to the
Power Authority last year by the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission. The enhancements and the new construction will be
implemented in concert with each other.