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Waterfront towns, villages hope to market Thousand Islands region

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CLAYTON — Members of 10 communities from the Thousand Islands region met Friday to learn about the progress toward putting the region on the map large scale for tourism.

The Thousand Islands regional assessment project advisory committee meeting was held Friday with more than 50 members of the communities involved in the project to expand tourism. Town of Hammond Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram said a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance grant would help the area become a more viable tourism destination.

Areas designated as a SASS are coastal locations that possess unique, highly scenic landscapes that are accessible to the public.

“Today is all about presenting what projects can be done and learning what exactly each community will be asked to do,” Mr. Bertram said.

The advisory committee’s Friday meeting included input from state Department of State project officers, consultants from Dodson & Flinker, Ashfield, Mass., and representatives from towns, villages, community organizations and federal, county and state agencies.

Dodson & Flinker President Harry L. Dodson said the SASS designation wouldn’t change anything for the residents but would affect large projects such as power plants and wind turbine projects.

Mr. Bertram said he has been working for the past two years to have the region certified and believes it could take another two years to achieve it. The project includes the promotion of waterfront towns — Cape Vincent, Clayton, Alexandria Bay, Morristown, Orleans and Hammond — and the villages of Cape Vincent, Clayton, Alexandria Bay and Morristown.

With a $75,000 matching grant the North Country Regional Economic Development Council awarded the group last year, it hired Mr. Dodson, who is also a landscape architect at Dodson & Flinker, to create a Thousand Islands Regional Assessment document that would be reviewed by the state.

Mr. Dodson explained the steps needed to initiate the project. He said the group must form an advisory committee, collect information, hold meetings and interviews, and use photographic records to show what is so appealing about the region.

Howard W. Dimick from Hammond said he was first attracted to the region for fishing opportunities. He said initially people could come for the fishing, but once they are here, they can see how much there is to offer and hopefully will want to bring their families back to the area.

“We need to work on a way to get people to come into the community,” Mr. Dimick said.

Mr. Bertram said the Thousand Islands region is a beautiful place that has often been overlooked as a destination. While traveling around the state, he said, he has met people as close as the Adirondack Park who have never heard about or visited the Thousand Islands. By having it designated as a SASS, the organizers hope to make the Thousand Islands region more visible to tourists from around the state.

By creating a website, they hope to use the power of social media to market the region.

“The next step is we’re going to keep building our website,” Mr. Dodson said. “We want to reach as many people as possible.”

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