During a stop in Yates County on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer revealed he has secured a new $3.6 million boost in federal funding in pending legislation for two local projects.
In the 2024 Agriculture-FDA bill recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Schumer said he secured $2 million to complete construction of the Saunders Finger Lakes Museum at the former Branchport Elementary School. Senator Schumer also secured $1.6 million for Keuka College to create a new Rural Community Outpatient Clinic that provides low-cost healthcare for residents while training students to become nurses and healthcare workers.
“Just three short years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Finger Lakes bustling tourist economy hard and simultaneously left our healthcare system extremely vulnerable. I have fought to deliver historic investments to help New York recover from the pandemic, and now I have secured a major federal boost to help Yates County build back stronger than before,” said Senator Schumer. “This $3.6 million is the shot in the arm the Yates County economy needs to boost both its tourism industry and public health.”
Schumer explained that the $2 million would be used to complete the construction of the new Finger Lakes Museum at the former Branchport school site – a school property acquired to be the site of the new museum. Demolition of the site is now commencing and the $2 million will provide the final funding needed to start and complete construction of the new tourism attraction by as soon as fall of 2024. The overall objective of the Finger Lakes Museum’s Capital Project is to build and create indoor and outdoor spaces and experiences dedicated to inspiring pride, deepening appreciation, and encouraging active stewardship of and for the cultures, lands, and abundant freshwater resources that make the Finger Lakes region a true treasure.
Natalie Payne, Executive Director of the Saunders Finger Lakes Museum said, “The Saunders Finger Lakes Museum project is a destination that will generate an increased sense of pride and awareness for our region and its freshwater resources/lakes, and provide cultural and natural history knowledge and appreciation for the greater Finger Lakes and New York State. Our 30-acre campus will be a place for enjoyment, education and inspiration throughout all seasons for youth, families, adults, and the increasing tourist and resident populations surrounding our 11 Finger Lakes. We feel honored to be one of Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand’s priority projects for 2024 and applaud them both for their continued efforts in ensuring Congress allocates the people’s money to many worthy projects across our Nation including our own.”
Schumer said the 30-acre campus will be a place for enjoyment in all seasons and will provide a place for recreation and education for youth, families, and the increasing tourist and resident populations surrounding the 11 Finger Lakes. The new museum will include outdoor recreation, youth educational programming, and offer world-class exhibits and dynamic interactive experiences for all ages. Schumer emphasized that there is no tourist attraction currently in existence in Yates County or in the Finger Lakes region like what the new Museum will be.
Schumer also detailed how the $1.6 million for Keuka College will be used to create a Rural Community Outpatient Clinic that will provide the local community with primary care, counseling, athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and wellness coaching. The clinic will be a win-win for the community, both training badly needed new nurses and healthcare workers while providing a low-cost clinic to allow Keuka College to serve an additional ~1000 area residents for primary care, counseling, athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and wellness coaching. The creation of this clinic will drive increased enrollment in Keuka College and provide clinical training opportunities for 100 students per year in the College’s healthcare programs, addressing the severe shortage of available fieldwork clinical training opportunities in NY State while creating more well qualified healthcare professionals to serve New York State. It will also create increased jobs at the clinic and through the education of well qualified health and human service students at Keuka College that will utilize the clinic for internships and hands-on experience. Schumer emphasized that the creation of the rural outpatient clinic is in the interest of the New York State taxpayer, as it will provide access to a variety of low-cost healthcare in an area that lacks sufficient services within a 30-mile radius.
Amy Storey, President of Keuka College said, “The Rural Community Outpatient Clinic proposed by Keuka College would fill a vital role in an area of New York state with limited access to medical services. We are thankful for Sen. Schumer’s recognition of the need for additional wellness resources in Yates County and for his efforts to secure congressional support for a project that would serve thousands throughout our community.”
Schumer added, “This $1.6 million investment will be game changing for Keuka College, its students, and the surrounding Finger Lakes community. These federal dollars will not only provide affordable and accessible healthcare to 1000 area residents, but it will also address the severe shortage of healthcare workers in Yates and provide vital resources as the community continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Keuka College has a long-standing history of educating several health and human service majors such as nursing, occupational therapy, and social work. Approximately 70% of Keuka College alumni subsequently reside in New York.
Schumer is now pushing to include both of these critical federal investments in any final FY 2024 appropriations package that makes its way to the Senate floor.
Schumer concluded, “I am proud to have secured this funding in the Senate Appropriations Agriculture-FDA mark up, and now it is time to bring this funding home for Yates County. I will be fighting to deliver this critical funding this year to Yates County so the community can finally build the modern state of the art museum Finger Lakes residents deserve.”