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Bill Would Aid In Opening Of Hudson-Hoosic Visitor Center

State lawmakers are expecting passage of a bill that would help establish a regional visitor center for the upper Hudson and Hoosic river valleys.

Lawmakers are awaiting the passage of legislation that would expand the powers and duties of the Historic Hudson-Hoosic Rivers Partnership. The group, formed in 2006, includes several communities in Washington, Saratoga, and Warren counties. The group’s main mission is promote, protect, and preserve regional farmland, heritage, and natural resources.

The bill would allow the Partnership to appoint and remove officers, agents and employers, and to seek and retain counsel and contractors. It also would grant the power to hold a title, which is critical to the planned opening of a regional visitors center in the Village of Schuylerville.

Republican State Senator Kathy Marchione of Halfmoon introduced the legislation in the Senate, and previously worked to secure funding in the 2013-2014 state budget for the project.

“A couple years ago I was able to get them $100,000 for the new gateway center, they were able to get the land together. But legalities have it that they must have additional powers and authority in order to be able to truly move forward and get projects done,” said Marchione.

The bill has cleared the Senate before, but has not been taken up in the Assembly. The new version of the bill is now being sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, who represents Saratoga and Washington Counties.

“One of the things that became clear that they could not do under the existing legislation was that they could not hold title a piece of property. And so we really wanted to try and fix that to give them the powers that any other organization of this type would have,” said Woerner.

The bill has been sent for review under the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation.

Republican Assemblymember Dan Stec of Queensbury said the Partnership is an acknowledgement of the region’s rich history going back to the Revolutionary War.

Stec, along with Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, are co-sponsors of the legislation introduced by Woerner in the Assembly. Stec also serves as the ranking minority member on the environmental committee. He says he is confident of its passage.

“The three of us of course represent all of Washington County, and Carrie and I both represent parts of Saratoga County, but also Steve Englebright, the chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee is a co-sponsor.  So I suspect that as this bill moves forward, once it gets to the Environmental Conservation Committee, it should be well received there.”

For more information visit: http://www.hudsonhoosicpartnership.org/

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.