New site in Florida considered for Tribes Hill Heritage Center

FLORIDA – The Tribes Hill Heritage Center (THHC) that was originally planned around a site in the town of Mohawk now has a new life at a better site located in the town of Florida, according to Marjorie Dancing Wind Heacock, one of the founders of the project.

The project would consist of several buildings dedicated to the history of the Mohawk Valley, including the contributions of Native Americans and settlers, such as the Quakers, German Palatines and the ethnic groups that moved to the area to build the Erie Canal.

The center would include classrooms for courses about local history and traditional Native American crafts, leather work and weaving as well as sporting events featuring traditional Native American games.

The retail shops in the complex would feature items made on-site, as well as those of local artisans and from as far away as Arizona and the Pacific Coast.

Heacock said the project could give a financial boost to the Amsterdam, Johnstown and Gloversville areas with potentially 300 to 350 new employment opportunities, while also providing a multi-cultural exposure experience for visitors.

The 55-acre plot has been secured and the process of obtaining all of the permits and zoning determinations is moving along rapidly, Heacock said.

While requesting that the actual site not be disclosed at this time due to ongoing negotiations, Heacock said the site has the availability of water and sewer services from the City of Amsterdam and a proximity to Exit 27 of the New York State Thruway.

Heacock also said the site was not the one that was once considered for a local casino.

The founders’ legal representation has begun talking with the town of Florida Planning Board regarding the types of permits they would need, and Heacock said she has spoken with Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa regarding the sewer and water services with great expectation of success.

The original site for the proposed center was on a 62-acre parcel of land off Mohawk Drive in Tribes Hill. The commitment was made to purchase the land and the group began the process of obtaining the needed permits from the town of Mohawk and Montgomery County. The process ground to a halt, however, when the town Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals placed restrictions on the project that would make it impossible for the group to do business at the site.

In a letter to the town of Mohawk government, the applications were withdrawn and the group began looking elsewhere for a site.

The 55-acre site that the group now has an agreement on will require much less preparation than the previous site, Heacock said.

According to an informational brochure created by the corporation, “The Mohawk Valley is about the story of this country going from independence to 13 colonies, to westward expansion.

This was the main path through the historic Mohawk Valley, the Erie Canal, the story of the Native Americans and the immigrants. There is no project like this anywhere in the country and no one with the background and connections that THHC has to put such and interwoven multicultural project together.”

Funding for the ambitious project is expected to be garnered from grants and foundation funding available to the corporation as a non-profit. Heacock said the group should be self sustaining by the time the second set of buildings are on site.

Heacock has a presentation planned in the community room of the Riverfront Center in Amsterdam on Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. where she will disclose the actual site of the new center and give an update on when construction will start.

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