Tribes Hill center effort under way

FONDA – Marjorie Dancing Wind Heacock spoke to about 60 people Wednesday at the Montgomery County Annex to inform them about the proposed Tribes Hill Heritage Center and generate support for the plan.

She said the effort aims to “make Montgomery County a destination, not a drive-through.”

She said the project could give a financial boost to the Amsterdam, Johnstown and Gloversville areas with new employment opportunities while providing a multi-cultural exposure to visitors.

The project would consist of several buildings dedicated to the history of the Mohawk Valley, including its contributions of Native Americans and settlers. The center would include classrooms for courses about local history and traditional Native American crafts, leather work and weaving.

The project would be done in several phases.

The first phase includes forming a not-for-profit corporation to run the site, applying for not-for-profit status with the federal government and applying to the state government for a charter as a not-for-profit educational, religious and charitable organization, Heacock said.

Those measures have been taken and the center’s board of directors has moved on to getting building designs from Lincoln Logs, Heacock said.

The center expects to begin phase two, which includes construction of buildings, in the fall, she said.

Organizers plan to approach the Mohawk Town Planning Board and various Montgomery County entities to help with traffic planning, economic development and other issues.

The site for the proposed development is 63 acres bordered on Route 5 on one side and Mohawk Drive in Tribes Hill on the other. The center is working on buying the land, Heacock said.

Heacock said the project would have virtually no effect on the views of the valley from Route 5.

According to Heacock, the center would provide incentives for new businesses in the area, including new hotels, motels, campgrounds, restaurants and other amenities that would result from increased tourism. The project would boost the county’s sales tax collection, she said.

The group is seeking new members to bolster its ranks.

The project depends on whether the group can raise $15 million to get started, Heacock said last year.

The group is applying for state and federal grants and accepting donations from individuals and businesses, she said.

The project would include six main buildings and several others. The first buildings would be the leatherstocking, display, powwow grounds and old town buildings, Heacock said.

The center’s purpose would be to preserve cultures and teach music, art, stories and crafts. The facility would be open year-round and would offer different activities depending on the season, Heacock said.

The center could create as many as 300 jobs, Heacock said. The center would hire students for seasonal summer work and other people from the community. Progress on the project can be followed on Facebook at Tribes Hill Heritage Center Community Organization.

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