The Town of Candor Planning Board held its most recent monthly meeting on June 2, during which it entertained the possibility of becoming part of the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area. Planning Board Chairman Ed Evans held a vote during the meeting, during which three of the four attending members (Evans, Board Member Ken Kafka, and Board Secretary Art Cacciola) voted in favor of showing support of the upcoming National Heritage study, while one, Board Member Robin Beebe, was reluctant to do so without gaining further information regarding what all would be entailed following the study.
As described on the United States government’s park planning website, “National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Areas entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.”
As per the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019, the United States Secretary of the Interior must evaluate the Finger Lakes area for “natural, historic, cultural, educational, and recreational resources,” as stated on the park planning website. The website goes on to explain that this study, called the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area Feasibility Study, “[assesses] if [the Finger Lakes area] is nationally worthy of recognition, conservation, interpretation, and continuing use; [sic] through designation as a national heritage area.” Several counties surrounding the Finger Lakes are considered to be part of this study, with Tioga being one of them. As such, the study also looks at the support garnered from the local communities, such as that of residents; businesses; and local, state, and federal agencies. The findings of this study will ultimately be reported to Congress.
Other National Heritage Areas include places such as Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks. Cacciola stated during the meeting that he saw this as an opportunity to increase tourism, seeing how being labeled as a significant historical area would likely bring an uptick in annual visitors. Beebe expressed concern over how this study and potential designation of National Heritage Area would impact and possibly restrict residents.
The reason for hesitation comes from actions taken by other historical preservation groups that are known to impose difficult rules and guidelines on those looking to build or renovate buildings within historical locations; many of the renovations that take place within such areas must follow period-accurate guidelines, ensuring that anything that would be replaced must accurately reflect the materials, structures, and designs of the historical period the group is looking to preserve, often resulting in far more expensive materials and services. Fellow board members assured her that would not happen with this study and possible designation of National Heritage Area, stating that it is not designed to restrict residents in such a manner.
Cacciola motioned to begin the vote, while Kafka seconded. Beebe remained the only board member present that evening to not vote in favor of Candor’s support of the study and designation, stating her desire to be thorough and understand the entire process, study, and program before making any commitments.
The Candor Planning Board meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Town of Candor Town Hall, and all Planning Board meetings are open to the public.