Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

June 26, 2019

New York State Announces $7.5 Million Project to Renew Marina and Offer Long-Term Camping at Sampson State Park

Project Enhances Finger Lakes Appeal as Tourism Destination for Outdoor Recreation

Investment Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $7.5 million public-private partnership to rehabilitate the aging marina and create a long-term campground at Sampson State Park. In partnership with New York State Parks and the New York State Canal Corporation, SamSen LLC will transform the marina and an underutilized area of the park into a modern destination for boating and long-term camping at the 2,000-acre park on Seneca Lake. The project is part of Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 initiative to revitalize the State Park system, and complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development.

"Camping, boating and fishing are an enduring tradition on Seneca Lake and important drivers of tourism in the Finger Lakes," Governor Cuomo said. "This transformation of Sampson State Park continues our work to create a dynamic destination to attract visitors to the region and encourage New Yorkers and visitors alike to experience all that the region has to offer."

"New York is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the world offering a variety of recreational activities," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This investment in Sampson State Park will renovate the marina and create a campground for visitors, further establishing the site as a destination. The project on Seneca Lake will increase tourism in the area and strengthen the economy, continuing to move the Finger Lakes Forward."

State Parks awarded a 40-year lease to Waterloo-based SamSen to operate and be responsible for capital improvements to both Sampson and Seneca Lake State Park marinas. As part of the agreement SamSen will invest at least $1.5 million, combined with $2.5 million in State Parks funding, to improve the 100-slip Sampson marina and adjacent lakefront. In addition, SamSen has committed a minimum of $1 million towards improvements to Seneca Lake State Park marina.

Work on the Sampson State Park marina included dredging the marina basin, removing deteriorated marina docks and installing new boat slips, repairing marina walls, installing all new utilities, and providing site work to enhance the landscaping around the marina to create a more park-like atmosphere. Seasonal slip reservations can be made at

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council awarded a $2 million grant to provide additional amenities to include a ship-store/comfort station, marine fuel sales, and a lakeside dining and entertainment center that will draw vendors and events to the State Park from throughout the northeast. In addition, a $1.5 million grant from Senator Pamela Helming to the NYS Canal Corp. will make complementary improvements to the lakefront, including replacing the existing boat launch and installing accessible paths and ramps.

Under the agreement, SamSen can also make future investments to develop and operate a long-term RV campground, cabin rentals, and boat rentals at both Sampson and Seneca Lake State Parks. Most State Park campsites are available for a maximum of two weeks. The seasonal campground would be an attractive option for outdoor enthusiasts wishing to set up a campsite and keep their boat nearby for the summer season.

"These improvements complement Governor Cuomo's vision for establishing new, first-class options for outdoor recreation in New York State," said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. "I'm grateful to our partners to all the partners who have come together to make the project a reality. This work will greatly improve the experience of current slip holders at Sampson State Park and draw more visitors to the region."

"We are extremely excited to embark on this public-private partnership with NYS Parks," said Vern Sessler of SamSen. "As local business owners and lifelong residents of the Finger Lakes we understand the enormous amount of economic impact that tourism has brought to our region, but we also see this as a great benefit to enhancing the quality of life for our neighbors in our region as well."

"Revitalizing Sampson State Park will attract and introduce even more visitors to this beautiful place, helping to build the Finger Lakes tourism economy both now and for the future," said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky.

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said, "These phenomenal improvements at Sampson State Park will greatly enhance the magnificent park's outdoor recreational experience. The Council is committed to supporting projects that aim to draw even more visitors from near and far to our beautiful region where they will be able to take in and enjoy all that the Finger Lakes has to offer, helping to move the region forward for years to come."

Brian U. Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation, said, "Seneca Lake is one of the jewels of the New York State Canal System - part of a 524-mile recreational boating network which provides significant economic benefits to Canal communities year after year. These important amenities will enhance the boating experience, offering recreational users of Seneca Lake and the Canal System even more reasons to visit and enjoy New York's Canal System in the Finger Lakes Region."

Senator Pamela Helming said, "Sampson State Park is truly a gem of the Finger Lakes region for residents and visitors alike. It provides numerous recreation opportunities, complements our renowned tourism industry, and boosts economic development efforts in Seneca County and throughout our region. Through this public-private partnership, SamSen LLC and New York State Parks will enhance those efforts by making much-needed improvements to the park and allowing SamSen to operate facilities at the park. As State Senator, I have worked closely with Governor Cuomo, New York State Parks, and the project developers to get critical support for these projects and make them a reality. The success of both of these parks is vital for economic development in Seneca County and around our region. I worked closely with Governor Cuomo, New York State Parks, and the project developers not only to secure funding for the rehabilitation project but also to sponsor legislation permitting SamSen to work at the park through a long-term lease with New York State Parks. Thank you to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for supporting this project at Sampson State Park, and thank you to SamSen and New York State Parks for the outstanding work that is already under way."

Senator Thomas O'Mara said, "The revitalization of Sampson State Park will strengthen the overall Finger Lakes tourism economy to the great benefit of local businesses, boaters, campers, and other visitors. The Finger Lakes region is already home to one of New York State's outstanding networks of parks and trails, and a renewed Sampson State Park will only enhance this vital regional asset and attraction."

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said, "Thank you to SamSen LLC and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the collaborative commitment to investing in Sampson State Park and re-establishing it as a premier vacation destination. This public-private partnership between NYS Parks and SamSen LLC will not just rehabilitate the Marina, it will, in fact, be a catalyst that will revitalize and transform Sampson State Park for residents, boaters and tourists alike, enhancing the experience and quality of life for all who visit and live in the incredible Finger Lakes Region."

Assemblyman Brian Kolb said, "This is a wonderful endeavor that will enhance the unique recreational opportunities available in the Finger Lakes region and Sampson State Park. We are fortunate to live in an area with unmatched natural beauty, enjoyed by residents and countless visitors alike. Public & private investment that improves camping and boating amenities helps reinforce Sampson State Park's reputation as a destination that everyone can enjoy. I applaud the hard work of everyone involved in making this project a reality, which will greatly benefit the future of the park and region."

The improvements are part of the Governor's NY Parks 2020 Plan a multi-year commitment to revitalize New York State Parks. In 2017, State Parks opened 10 new high-quality rental cottages on the lakeshore to accommodate visitors seeking to experience Seneca Lake, local wineries and other attractions.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

About SamSen

SamSen, a Sessler Company, was founded last year to manage the improvement and operation of the Sampson State Park and Seneca Lake State Park Marinas. Sessler is a family owned and operated firm celebrating its 60th year in business in 2018, located in Waterloo, NY. Sessler Wrecking, its flagship company, provides total turn-key demolition services with additional supporting capabilities. Multiple business divisions have developed over the year; these include Sessler Environmental Services (Rochester headquartered), Sessler Equipment, Sessler Development (property development), and SamSen (marina development and operations).