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Sun., Dec. 28
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Massena mayor sees tourism potential in Seaway

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MASSENA — Mayor James F. Hidy sees potential for Massena as the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. transitions into a new administration.

Seaway Development Corp. Administrator Collister W. “Terry” Johnson Jr. was fired by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week. Seaway Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook will fill in as acting administrator until Mr. Johnson’s successor is named, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The change in administrations could provide the Seaway with a new opportunity to reinvest in its Massena facilities, Mr. Hidy said. He said he would like to see Massena expand and improve its tourist offerings, and sees a reinvestment in the Seaway grounds as an important step.

When he was growing up, the grounds surrounding the Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock were well-manicured, Mr. Hidy said. The grass was green and frequently cut, and a St. Lawrence Seaway logo was sculpted into a nearby lawn with flowers.

At some point, the grass surrounding the locks became brown and overgrown, Mr. Hidy said. He said he would like to see the grounds surrounding the locks restored to their original condition.

“We’re hoping they can also take a look at the overall appearance of the facility,” he said. “We’ve got to better enhance them and make them more appealing.”

In addition, Mr. Hidy would like the Seaway to expand its offerings to tourists. The viewing area at the Eisenhower Lock doesn’t offer tourists the full experience of a Seaway freighter, he said.

“Once it gets in that box you can’t really see it,” he said of the ships in the locks.

Instead, the Seaway should consider a parking lot and viewing area in between the Eisenhower and Snell locks, where visitors could get much closer to the ships and look up at them, he said.

Mr. Hidy once drove down a back road in Robert Moses State Park with his son, Robert, and said he found a much better spot to watch the ships than where tourists usually go. He said his son’s eyes were “as big as saucers” when he saw the ship up close.

“You could see everything just perfectly,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s a small effort to construct something. ... We’ve got to get a little more creative out there.”

The Seaway’s Massena facility was better maintained when its policy administrators actually lived in the region and not in Washington, D.C., Mr. Hidy said.

“When they were here, this was one of the best-kept facilities in the system,” he said.

Mr. Hidy said he looked forward to working with Seaway Deputy Associate Administrator Carol Fenton, who so far has been “outstanding” on cooperating with him. He said the maintenance of the grounds surrounding Massena’s locks should be on par with the appearance of national monuments in Washington.

“That’s the way we should look at the locks, as a national monument,” he said.

Spokeswoman Nancy Alcalde said Seaway officials will be speaking with Mr. Hidy about his ideas.

“We are taking it under advisement and plan to discuss it with Mr. Hidy in the near future,” she said.

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