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County Tourism Center Awaits Legislative Consideration

VISITOR-CENTER-RENDERINGBy Jann Wiswall

The Cattaraugus County Legislature’s Development and Agriculture Committee was presented with a resolution on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, to contract with the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce to provide $40,000 per year for 10 years in operating subsidies for a proposed County Tourism Center. The resolution was sponsored by District 5 Republican Legislators Donna Vickman and William Weller, and by District 4 Democratic Legislator William Sprague. Ellicottville lies within Legislative District 5. Funding would come from the Western New York casino settlement.

Earlier in the legislative committee meeting process that evening, the Public Works Committee was presented with a proposal to spend casino settlement funds on several road, bridge and culvert projects. During that discussion, the committee and other legislators in attendance suggested that the legislature should gather all proposed projects from committees and county department heads and consider the merits of each before deciding which should be funded with this windfall. The legislators agreed to ask for these proposals and meet as “a committee of the whole” on Sept. 18.

As a result, the Tourism Center proposal was tabled and will be considered at that meeting.

About the Tourism Center

Resolution sponsor Donna Vickman said that Ellicottville is the most logical location for a County Tourism Center. She pointed out that development of the tourism market is a critical piece of the economic development goals of the county.

“Ellicottville really has become the hub of tourism here. That makes it the best place to tell visitors about what the rest of the county has to offer and keep them coming back to take advantage of Olean, Salamanca, Allegany State Park, the Amish Trail and everything else the area has to offer,” said Vickman.

According to Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brian McFadden, the County Tourism Center would be located in Ellicottville on Route 219 at the old Kwik Fill property, which is owned by Kwik Fill’s parent company, United Refining Company.

“Currently, the only visitors’ center in the county is in the municipal building in Little Valley. It consists of a rack of brochures, and you have to go through a metal detector to get there,” said McFadden. “We think Ellicottville is a much better location, and the old Kwik Fill site is ideal since it is centrally located and there will be parking and public restrooms.”

While the resolution, if approved, would provide some funding, McFadden said there will need to be additional revenue streams identified to cover building renovations and additional operating costs. For the Ellicottville Chamber’s part, McFadden said his staff and offices could move to the site and fund a portion of the operating costs through its budget, but that the support of all of the area’s chambers of commerce will be needed to make the project a reality.

“We see this as being operated as a group by all of the area chambers of commerce, so we’ll need their buy-in and active support in order to make this truly a county-wide center that advances tourism throughout the region.”

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