NYS - Underwater Seaway Trail proposal to create sustainable diver tourism destinations for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
UNDERWATER SEAWAY TRAIL
Advancing New York State's Underwater Tourism into the 21st Century
GENERAL SUMMARY INDEX
The Scuba Diving Tourist
Cost Allocations for the Average Diver
Examples of Existing Underwater Parks
The "Underwater Seaway Trail"
Benefits of an "Underwater Seaway Trail"
Implementation of the "Underwater Seaway Trail"
1. 0 INTRODUCTION
Scuba diving is one of the fastest growing sports in the world today. People all over the world are learning how to dive and experience the joy of diving. Either snorkeling, scuba diving or pursuing the deeper depths with the new era of "Technical Diving", people who become divers become ardent enthusiasts in their sport. The adventure begins for most people by introduction to diving by snorkeling in a friendly body of water and then moving through the more advanced phases of snorkeling and scuba diving via training programs located in almost every town, village and city in the country.
Along with the excitement of diving comes the spirit of adventure and the yearning to see and do more. Underwater sites are what interests the new and old diver alike. Nature has worked millions of years to construct her treasures, man has managed to place a few structures in the aquatic world and together these sunken vistas draw divers and non-divers like a magnet.
The concept of an underwater park to attract divers and non-divers alike, is not new. It has been successfully implemented in over 1,000 various types of underwater designated areas throughout the world. The information presented in this proposal will show that the development of our underwater resource, Lake Ontario, with the primary goals of establishing, preserving and protecting recreational access is feasible. It can serve as a viable alternative to other recreational attractions both state and regional (Pryer, 1979).
1.1 THE SCUBA DIVING TOURIST
A scuba diver is one who uses a portable breathing device to enable free swimming underneath the water. Commercial scuba diving has been around since the 1960's. Today, however, the modern technology involved in scuba diving allows access to the sport in a relatively safe way to people of differing income and ability levels. As a result, scuba diving has reached significant heights of popularity (Vrana & Halsey, 1992). About 400,000 new divers are certified annually in the United States (Somers, 1985). Within the "Golden Horseshoe (from Toronto, Ontario around the western end of Lake Ontario to Rochester, New York), it has been estimated that there are over 34,000 certified sport divers" (Ritenour, 1995). Additionally, a 1980 Gallup poll of leisure activities confirmed that an estimated 56% of Americans would like to try to participate in scuba diving if given the opportunity (Somers, 1985).
The economic impact of these divers is substantial. A 1987 Skin Diver magazine survey found that divers on average have invested $1710 in scuba equipment. Great Lakes divers (a survey group with dive experience in the Great Lakes) have invested on average over $2479 in equipment (Peterson et al., 1987). The editors of the latter study concluded that Great Lakes divers were an experienced, active group with significant investments of time and money in training and equipment. These divers averaged over six dive trips per year with an average of twelve nights per year spent away from home. Over $244 was spent per Great Lakes dive trip per diver (Ibid.).
An earlier study of shipwreck divers (those divers with experience diving to view shipwrecks) found this subgroup to be significant consumers as well. 89% owned their own equipment and more than 71% had chartered a boat for their diving activities. Over 76% were college-educated. "Shipwreck divers took more trips, traveled a greater number of miles from home to the dive site area, and participated in the activity with a greater number of people in the diving party" (Holecek & Lothrop, 1980). Shipwreck divers also spent more nights away from home on their diving trips. During dive trips for all subgroups of divers, over half of the total spending was made in the local communities within ten miles of the dive site. Visiting divers tend to stay in local accommodations. Only a small number of divers (less than seven percent) indicated that they would spend no nights in the vicinity of the site (Peterson & Sundstrom, 1987). All of these statistics indicate that divers are a financially desirable target market for a locality to court. The fact is that significant dollars are flowing into those areas with diver services (Peterson er al., 1987).
Diver spending impacts a wide variety of service and retail businesses in the vicinity of the dive site. Some examples of businesses which benefit from these visiting divers include equipment retailers, charter boats, motels, campgrounds and bed and breakfasts, restaurants and grocers, specialty retailers of dive and tourist merchandise, and local entertainment venues. This is in addition to usage fees related to the dive sites and any pertinent taxes that diver-consumers also generate.
Divers travel all over the world and to all climates for dive trips. The top six locations that Great Lakes divers pick as dive sites are all areas with designation as either bottomland preserves or as underwater parks. These are areas with quality shipwreck resources. "That these locations were identified as the most visited is...undoubtedly a function of the development and promotion of diver services in these areas" (Ibid.). Yet, of all Great Lakes divers surveyed, only two percent (six divers) had dove in Lake Ontario in the last year. None cited Lake Ontario as their favorite or their most frequent dive destination.
It is the inherent responsibility of all people who live in the Lake Ontario basin to protect their resource (Smiley & Holecek, 1985). It is fully viable, however, to provide a safe, enjoyable recreation experience while maintaining or perhaps even improving the integrity of the lake.
State lands including our Great Lakes provide numerous recreation opportunities to New York residents and visitors alike. They act as regional and even national tourist attractions, and as such they help assure the flow of dollars into our state's economy. They also contribute significantly to New York's image as a desirable place to visit or to live.
One of the primary goals delineated by New York's 25-Year Plan For The Great Lakes is to achieve "environmentally sustainable economic development through ecologically sensitive public and private decision making that balances social, economic and environmental concerns" (Jorling, ed. 1992). Joint public-private sector development of our resources will assure that they can be utilized to their full potential without in any way degrading them, thereby assuring that they can be enjoyed and appreciated by generations of visitors.
It is important to recognize that the mere existence of any lake resource is not a comprehensive fulfillment of its potential. The extent to which people choose or are able to use this resource depends on factors beyond its natural attributes, such as:
(1) The recreational facilities and services provided within the natural resource.
(2) The augmented resources they contain.
(3) The private sector support facilities and services such as food stores and restaurants, motels and campgrounds that are near,
(4) The transportation, both land and water-based, which will provide access.
(5) The information provided to the public about all of the above, (Spotts, 1991).
Visiting tourist attractions is a known primary motivator for all types of pleasure travelers. This leads to the question of what existing and potential attributes can be designed and utilized to lure prospective visitors, and which visitors to target. There is also the question of how this can be done in a cost-effective manner which does not degrade the resource. Such surveillance is of particular importance in light of the fierce competition in the Northeast for greater shares of the travel market (Spotts, 1991). On all counts, the answer lies with recreational diving.
1.3 EXAMPLES OF EXISTING UNDERWATER PARKS
Throughout the nation and the world, recreational interest in underwater resources has increased with the implementation of regulations concerning conservation measures designed to assure the resource's protection. The history of the marine parks movement dates from 1962 at the World Conference of National Parks when the possibilities for such parks were first discussed (Pryer, 1979).
A marine park is an area on the bottomland of a body of water and extending upward to and including the surface of the water, which is protected by a government office controlling natural resources. The use of surface waters above the park must be scrutinized carefully so as to protect the bottomland areas, and so is included in the preservation area. Such a park may encompass a single or a collection of several objects such as shipping casualties, unusual features or geological formations, simulated casualties or reefs, and fish.
Any manmade structures which have accidentally or intentionally ended up on the bottomlands of the park provide an artificial type of reef. Eventually the structure becomes covered with certain aquatic vegetation and acts as a breeding substrate for different species of fish and invertebrates. The "reef" then begins to contribute to the biodiversity of the park area, adding further interest with the new varieties of underwater curiosities. The artificial reef contributes to the biodiversity of the park, and attracts and benefits other park users such as sportfishermen (Vrana & Halsey, 1992; Pryer, 1979).
For a general overview of what an underwater park is or might be, we can consider some existing structures. A park is an area that is protected by the state to preserve the environmental, historic value and to provide the visitors touring the area with enjoyable experiences. There are three major components of such an area. First, there are historically significant artifacts located underwater and facilities that serve as an attraction for visitors. Then, there are users who visit the attractions for either recreational or educational experiences. Finally, there are managers and caretakers who guide the visitors and help protect the resource (Holecek & Smiley, 1985).
Many people are attracted to the land and water resources in the preserve areas, and they use them in many different ways. Sport fishing, recreational boating, commercial transportation and swimming all coexist in the carefully controlled park area. Historians, archaeologists and scientists of differing disciplines constitute another user group attracted to the park for study, to teach students, and to work toward preservation. Then there are visitors who are attracted to the park to learn about maritime history and the underwater environment in the interpretive centers of the land base. The group which most intensely uses any underwater park is the diving community. Many of these divers regularly visit wreck areas and actively search out other underwater areas with unique features of interest.
Bottomland parks do exist in other areas of North America as well as in many foreign countries. The feasibility of aquatic parks in the water of the Great Lakes was first demonstrated in Canada (McClellan, 1979).
The Great Lakes' cold, fresh water is an exceptional preservation medium, and the wrecks present in Fathom Five Provincial Park, Tobermory, Ontario remain in remarkable condition. Fathom Five has attracted scores of visitors; over 1,000 divers have been recorded on peak weekends. Additionally, over 250,000 non-divers have used and benefited from the land based interpretive center.
The interpretive center has played a key role as the hub for various services and management goals of Fathom Five Park. Interpretation can be viewed as a means of achieving all management objectives affecting the public.
(1) The interpretive personnel alert visitors about potential dangers and safety measures before they enter the water.
(2) Interpretation increases the understanding of visitors, and thereby their enjoyment of the park.
(3) Interpretation can encourage wise use of the resource and propound the ideas of conservation.
(4) The interpretive center and personnel can provide the wherewithal for study by scientists and their students from all disciplines.
(5) The interpretive center can be used to house pertinent artifacts and displays for all visitors to view.
(6) The centre can serve as housing for management and guide personnel, and as a public relations showcase which can allow non-divers as well as divers to appreciate their underwater heritage. (Vereka & Poneleit, 1981).
The state of Michigan has 10 bottomland preserve areas (including one federally protected area) with a total of 1,751,288 acres of bottomland. Michigan's original legislation, Public Act 184, was approved in 1980. This law, designed to protect and preserve underwater lands, allowed for a maximum of five percent of all Michigan bottomlands to retain preserve status. Since that time, Michigan's preserves have proved a magnet for visitors. Citizens living near the preserves have recognized the importance of sport diving tourism to their localities. Due to the obvious monetary benefits to their communities the local business people, community support agencies, and the proponents of aquatic preserves have aggressively pursued underwater development, promotion and preservation (Vrana & Halsey, 1992).
In early 1992, Michigan legislatures passed Public Act 452 which increased to a maximum of ten percent the bottomlands eligible for preserve status under the law. A next goal for Michigan groups is the conversion of some of the preserves into aquatic parks. This would allow for more diverse recreation experiences including land based services such as interpretive centers (Ibid.).
The underwater park areas in Ontario and in Michigan do have some problems, however, which are inherent in any park system based around actual historical sites.
(I) Leading many people to original wrecks of historical or cultural value leads to the of the wrecks through wholesale salvaging. Many divers are immensely interested in taking home a piece of antiquity as a trophy. Even with the most careful monitoring and education, valuable historical sites, which in reality belong to all people, become depleted.
(2) Often valuable wrecks are often located by dragging an anchor along the bottom until it latches onto the hull or railing of the vessel that is the intended dive site. Each time this occurs the vessel on the bottom is damaged until at some point it is substantially degraded. (Holecek & Smiley, 1985).
(3) When a site has been located in this fashion, divers can still spend a significant amount of time searching for the exact location on the bottom.
(4) Many times curious divers continue to explore more wrecks in the same area. Often disturbing more than one underwater site per dive.
(5) Underwater structures like shipping casualties can have dangerous features like nets, jagged pieces or enclosed areas which are difficult to exit and require specialized training to penetrate.
It has been proven that underwater parks stimulate considerable interest, activity, and ultimately cash flow in areas that pursue their development. Such parks create an added dimension in the recreational area and increase the use of an otherwise popular area in a way that is compatible with any existing structure.
New York has an opportunity better than that of either Michigan or Ontario. New York State has:
(1) A significant natural resources in Lake Ontario that can be successfully utilized to accommodate a top-flight underwater park system.
(2) The opportunity to implement an "access-designed" underwater park without any of the liabilities that are intrinsically involved when using pre-existing underwater sites.
(3) The ability to exercise creative control in the development of a system of safe and well planned underwater park system.
(4) The achievable goal of utilizing public-private sector joint development. Such a cooperative effort will make The Underwater Seaway Trail plan cost-effective and at the same time, world class.
2.0 THE UNDERWATER SEAWAY TRAIL
Underwater & Maritime Consultants International, Inc., has utilized the natural resource of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie as a backdrop to design a world class underwater park system known as "The Underwater Seaway Trail" .
This concept provides a method to develop our underwater resource by utilizing a turn-key design; construction, implementation, and management of The Underwater Seaway Trail park network via a public/private sector development agreement.
The creation of the designated underwater parks involves the addition of large and small underwater interests to a given area. To achieve the goals of creating a unified design for all parks, and for removing pressure from the genuine wreck areas in Lake Ontario, UMCI will create interesting underwater park settings that reflect the safe pursuit of recreational, educational and scientific diving.
These structures have the secondary benefits of serving as a base to attract fish and other live underwater curiosities, providing access to divers and non-divers of all skill levels. Underwater parks can perform numerous functions including: encouraging tourism and economic development, providing a basis for management and protection of our resource base, serving as a stimulus for education, and as a basis for business enterprises (Hulse, 1979).
The goals behind the design of The Underwater Seaway Trail plan include:
(I) Providing an area of recreational access to draw tourists and to engage residents.
(2) To involve our under-utilized resource of Lake Ontario in such a way that it will neither
degrade the resource nor prohibit other types of developments.
(3) To provide an area for scientific study for professionals and students of all ages.
(4) To provide an area for the education of the general visiting public about our maritime
(5) To provide continuing education resources to engage local grade schools, high schools and institutions of higher learning.
(6) To provide continuing education about safety and other issues to divers and non-divers.
(6) To promote preservation and awareness.
(7) To remove the pressure of usage from historically significant wrecks currently on the bottomlands.
(8) To provide structure to increase the habitat of fish.
(9) To provide a new market for all local businesses, adding jobs.
(10) To promote a positive image for New York State, the localities, Lake Ontario and The
(11) To promote joint public-private sector initiative.
(12) To do all of the above in a cost-effective way.
(13) Perhaps most importantly, to implement all features in an access-designed manner.
Access- designed simply means that certain areas of the park will be available to divers
of a certain skill, other areas of the park will be available to divers of lesser skill levels,
In The Underwater Seaway Trail , UMCI has developed a comprehensive plan which meets all of the above goals. The Underwater Seaway Trail will utilize lake bottom lands and water columns off Youngstown, Wilson, Olcott, Oak Orchard, Rochester, Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Fairhaven and Oswego. The smaller parks would serve to assist in the development of tourism in our rural areas such as Wilson, Olcott, Oak Orchard, Sodus Bay, Fairhaven. Oswego is envisioned to be the the headquarters of the Underwater Seaway Trail , while both Rochester and Oswego could develop into centre showcases of New York history and education regarding our bottomland resource.
2.1 POTENTIAL HARBOR SUPPORT SITES OF OFFSHORE UNDERWATER PARK LOCATIONS
(1) Youngstown, Old Fort Niagara State Park, NY - US/Canada border
Extensive marine infrastructure support.
The Niagara Falls attractions attract many millions of visitors each year, a sizeable portion of them are sport divers looking for new adventure.
(2) Wilson, NY
Wilson &Tuscarora State Park have excellent harbor and facilities.
Close proximity to Niagara Falls and Canada
Extensive infrastructure to support transient tourism
Town of Newfane Marina and Krull Park
Close proximity to Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the Canadian border
Large charter fishing fleet
(4) Oak Orchard, NY
Orleans County Marine Park
New York State launching site
has a beautiful natural harbor.
Rural area with the need for economic development.
(5) Rochester / Charlotte, NY harbor area
Largest city on the south shore of Lake Ontario.
Many exciting activities within the city for tourist visit.
The Charlotte area could be developed into a significant marine tourism attraction.
(6) Irondequoit Bay, Irondequoit, NY
Location of the Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park.
Sheltered harbor, newly dredged entrance channel.
Excellent area for water borne activities.
Close to Rochester, but yet still retains a rural ambience
Beautiful rural harbor.
A former centre for schooner building and lake shipping.
A very active Pultneyville Historical Society.
Ideal location for a small underwater park for stimulation of the local rural economy.
(8) Sodus Bay, Sodus Point, NY
One of the few natural harbors on Lake Ontario.
Extensive infrastructure supporting the marine industry.
Existing marine history interest point at "Old Lighthouse Museum".
(9) Fair Haven/ Little Sodus Bay,NY
One of the prettiest and most sheltered harbors on the south shore of Lake Ontario
Location of Fair Haven Beach State Park
Large recreational boating presence
Potential for a fully developed interactive underwater park system.
Large, active harbor
Many interesting maritime and underwater activities are based in Oswego.
A natural for the headquarters of the Underwater Seaway Trail.
(11) Other potential sites
The proposed project envisions two more sites in Lake Erie and possibly more sites located on the western approaches of the St. Lawrence River, Thousand Islands and farther downstream. Practically any waterfront community with a serviceable harbor or boat launch can participate in the system wide development.
2.2 Historical Interpretation
Ideally in any underwater park setting, divers, non-diving visitors, and the interpretive personnel must view Lake Ontario's history in its entirety. The history of shipping in the Great Lakes is very much bound with the history of the people living in the basin area. UMCI has designed The Underwater Seaway Trail as a cohesive unit revolving around the theme of Lake Ontario's maritime history. For instance, before the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, few ships plied any of the Great Lakes (Vereka & Poneleit, 1981). Thus our area's role in maritime history was a pivotal one. Given some historical perspective with the displays and artifacts of the interpretive centers, visitors will be able to grasp the significance of particular objects and events, to understand the past a little better, and to relate this all to our modern Lake Ontario and its basin communities.
Unifying the individual components of The Underwater Seaway Trail under the theme of the history of Great Lakes shipping, in addition to developing a central focus, will also serve to draw more visitors overall. A Michigan study concluded that the "packaging of dive travel to more than one preserve location (is) an effective marketing strategy, particularly for out-of-state divers who wish to maximize their vacation time" (Peterson, et al., 1987). A tourist diver would be very receptive to a week-long package of diving in several spots. Also, a vacationing diver of this sort is more likely to bring other divers, family and friends along with him/her.
To be most effective, tourism efforts should "expand beyond the limits of a single community. The tourist is extremely mobile. Tourism equals travel" (Chesnutt, 1992). Our glamour here lies in our natural attractions. Expanding the base from one locality through the entire region will market more attractions to potential tourists. The more attractions that are available, the more tourists will want to visit and the longer they will want to stay (Ibid.).
The key to the packaging of the "Underwater Seaway Trail" is the interpretative centres located at the selected sites.
Interpretative Centres provide a gateway to the underwater park site. Designed to fit the location, each centre has the capability to showcase local history and the underwater structures lying off shore.
They also provide a method for tourists to move along the system, utilizing the "Seaway Trail" system to dive New York State Underwater Parks. In addition the centres provide an important educational benefit on park regulations, safe diving practices and historical artifact display.
The centres could be located in existing facilities, additions to existing buildings or built anew. They can range in structure from a simple placard to a large facility with outreach capabilities.
As more and more tourists are drawn to visit The Underwater Seaway Trail, eventually the question of logical avenues of expansion will come up. The logical expansion will be the interpretative centres. They can serve the public by becoming an focal point for the community and the tourist alike.
2.3 Public-Private Cooperation
Cooperation is the theme of our recommendation. UMCI perceives that there is an excellent opportunity for state agencies and private sector to develop productive cooperative efforts with each other.
The private sector represents a virtually unlimited source of support. Private enterprise can be expected to be a partner through speculative investment into the fundamental or core aspects of the park system. Additionally, concessionaires will develop a secondary level of services to add to the attractiveness of the system to visitors. Such services will include dive shops and service centers, retailers of tourist supplies, restaurants and grocers, bed-and-breakfasts, campgrounds, and charter boat services. Such investments into the localities will include previously existing businesses strengthening their presence, and new businesses moving into the areas.
This project has the ability to show how well the public/private sector can work together. Not often does an opportune project of this nature come along. The Underwater Seaway Trail will prove to be an excellent example of teamwork and provide a lot of positive publicity for New York State for a long time to come.
3.0 BENEFITS OF AN UNDERWATER SEAWAY TRAIL DEVELOPMENT
There is a population of Great Lakes divers who actively seek dive travel locations in the region has been shown. All surveys suggest that Great Lakes sport divers are experienced, as evidenced by the years of involvement in the sport, amount invested in equipment, and levels of training exhibited by the respondents. Furthermore, these divers are very mobile in terms of their dive travel patterns, and they pursue diving opportunities in a wide array of locations and climates in the Great Lakes region and throughout the world. As a consequence, they also create potentially significant economic impacts while engaging in their dive travel, and many of these expenditures are not directly related to the activity of diving, but accrue in a variety of retail and service businesses throughout the local and regional economies (Peterson et al., 1987).
Communities as well as local, state and federal entities, by adopting The Underwater Seaway Trail as proposed by UMCI into the existing base of recreational opportunities in, on and around Lake Ontario, are positioning themselves to claim a share of the benefits which come along with the diver-tourist market. UMCI delineates such realistic benefits as including the following (Chesnutt, 1992).
(1) INCREASED INCOME- Millions are spent each year by tourist divers, much of this in the host communities where underwater parks and recreation exist.
(2) THE MONEY IS FROM OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM-Tourist divers bring new outside dollars to the host communities. All of it filters through the local economy and much remains there. Many segments of the community benefit indirectly by supplying the businesses that sell directly to the divers.
(3) TAX DOLLARS ARE BROUGHT INTO THE LOCAL ECONOMY-The public sector gains economically as well as the private sector. The visitor pays directly gasoline, lodging, sales, tobacco and alcohol taxes. Businesses that are doing better, and new businesses to the areas pay income taxes and property taxes. Indirectly, the tourist divers are helping to pay all the businesses taxes as they pass these costs along to the customers.
(4) LOCAL ECONOMIES DIVERSIFY-The diving industry blends well with other types of industry, and is not an "either-or" proposition. An Underwater USA article refers to various businesses in the vicinity of the Michigan underwater sites as saying that the preserves are helping them (Merkel, 1988). Diver tourists allow prosperous areas to broaden their base, and areas in decline to gain financial hope.
(5) TAXES ON TOURISTS ARE POLITICALLY POPULAR-Certain taxes, such as lodging taxes primarily affect visitors, and as such generate revenue without the political fallout often associated with increased taxation.
(6) EMPLOYMENT IS CREATED-Some jobs will be permanent and full-time, some will be part-time and seasonal, fitting the employment needs of students and second wage earners. Because travel has become a major component of current lifestyles, this employment area is often stable during periods of economic downturn.
(7) VISITORS REQUIRE FEW BASIC SERVICES-Visitors are often major tax contributors but usually not major tax consumers.
(8) NEW FACILITIES- A community may develop more infrastructure to support the increasing diver tourism industry. Although largely financed by travelers, the facilities are available for use by all. It should be recognized that all of the various recreation opportunities outlined in this plan, while aimed to draw visitors to Lake Ontario, will also be utilized by residents.
(9) THIS IS A "CLEAN" INDUSTRY- UMCI's plan, when carried out with proper management, will provide all the benefits indicated without degrading the natural environment.
(10) A POSITIVE IMAGE IS CREATED-Industries seek to locate in communities with high amenities. To be successful in attracting visitors, a community must maintain its resource quality, and provide quality service.
11) RURAL COMMUNITIES DEVELOP STABLE ECONOMIES -During the turbulent economic times of the 1980's, rural economies that depended on tourism experienced greater stability than other rural areas.
(12) THE COMBINED SEAWAY TRAIL GAINS RECOGNITION - The far greater numbers of visitors will gain an appreciation for The Seaway Trail as they explore more of its area, and bring this appreciation back home with them. One of the major components of successful tourism is the memory stage, when people remember the pleasures associated with a trip, describe them to others, and plan to return.
(13) THERE IS OPPORTUNITY FOR JOINT PUBLIC-PRIVATE VENTURES-An increasing trend toward privatization is expected over at least the next decade in the United States (Vrana & Halsey, 1992). When public agencies are under substantial pressure to cut costs while maintaining or increasing levels of service, the solution is well planned public-private sector cooperation in ventures where the potential for gain is significant for both.
(14) REAL ESTATE VALUES INCREASE-Real estate values near a park increase in value over time.
4.0 IMPLEMENTATION PROPOSAL
Seascan International has the technical expertise and financial ability to implement The Underwater Seaway Trail plan in the immediate future. We have the critical components already in hand and awaiting the outcome of the public/private sector proposal to the State of New York.
The three main questions are: how many jobs will it create, what will it cost to operate, and how much revenue will it generate.
There is VERY little scientific data to project: the number of jobs created or the revenue generated by recreational tourism, over the proposed area of Underwater Seaway Trail.
SSI has conducted it’s own preliminary study and found to it’s satisfaction that there was enough supporting tourism base, natural resources, ties to existing programs and opportunity to invest over $200,000 to date in conceiving, designing, lobbying and promoting this system wide project.
What we require from the communities interested in bringing the Underwater Seaway Trail to life is their interest and support. SSI has the components that will allow any location to participate in this program at what ever level is appropriate for their area.
If the communities, county governments or state departments require indepth scientific answers for these questions, we feel beyond the scope of our proposal to develop an indepth study of state tourism without being compensated.
Taking into account all stages of development, and with the mutual goal of being able to generate revenue to the state and to investors as soon as possible, SSI estimates that the first park could be operational within a period of 12-16 months, contingent upon the final accepted park system design.
It is envisioned that private sector investment will fund the construction of the park system and some shore based interaction centres, manage the system for it’s investors for a specific period of time and then the potential exists for a variety of options of ownership and management. The system will continue to generate revenue for many, many decades to come.
4.1 CONCLUDING REMARKS
We have assembled an internationally recognized team to perform the project. Our consortium team has performed many, many projects of similiar scope.
In the spirit of public/private sector initative, we believe this project will provide a solid functional key to recreational tourism, scientific study and educational interaction through out the length of the system proposed. The system will provide benefits such as: increased tourism in the villages, towns and citites bordering the underwater sites, a platform for continous environmental monitoring and scientific study and last but not least an opportunity for interaction by educational system.
This project provides a low maintenance, renewable and environmentally friendly source of additional revenue for private sector businesses, state and local agencies.
Divers and non-divers alike express a real interest in an underwater park system and appreciation for measures designed to facilitate access to the underwater world of Lake Ontario resources for study and recreational possibilities well into the future.
The most important ingredient in a successful park development is the effort put into the PUBLIC/PRIVATE SECTOR effort to work together. We can not overstate the importance of this type of spirit of cooperation.
Thank you for your time and consideration given to this proposal and please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.
(1) Chesnutt, J. Thomas, Tourism, An Effective Tool For Economic Development, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Auburn University, 1992.
(2) Holecek, Donald F. & Susan J. Lothrop, Shipwreck vs. Non-shipwreck Divers: Characteristics, Behavior and Expenditure Patterns, Michigan Sea Grant, 1980.
(3) Holecek, Donald F. & E. Thomas Gmiley, Management Guidelines for Michigan's Great Lakes Bottomland Preserves, Michigan Sea Grant, 1985.
(4) Hulse, Charles A., ed., Underwater Parks Symposium Proceedings, Cooperative Extension Service of Michigan State University, 1979.
(5) Jorling, Thomas C., ed., New York State 25 - Year Plan For The Great Lakes, GPO 1992.
(6) McClellan, S., "Fathom Five Provincial Park-A Working Example of an Underwater Park" Underwater Parks Symposium Proceedings, Cooperative Extension Service of Michigan State University, 1979.