Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

March 20, 2006

Catherine Jimenez

State Parks Announces Grants For Preserve America Communities

Two Neighborhoods Among First in Nation to Receive Funding

(Albany, New York, Monday, March 20, 2006...) New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro today announced that two communities in New York State are among the first in the nation to receive funding under the Preserve America program. Preserve America is a White House initiative to encourage and support community efforts for the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.

"I am thrilled that the White House and First Laura Lady Bush have highlighted the efforts of two New York State Preserve America communities to protect and enhance their local heritage through education and increased awareness," said Commissioner Castro, State Historic Preservation Officer and Vice-Chair of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. "With the support of Governor Pataki, New York has been a leader in protecting our historic treasures while balancing the needs of our localities."

"These project awards will help to support a variety of activities related to heritage tourism and will encourage innovative approaches to the use of historic properties as educational and economic assets. I am proud that these communities have been recognized nationally for their ongoing commitment to support local historic preservation."

The city of Rochester and the town of Roxbury (Delaware County) are two communities in New York State, among 45 recipients nationwide, recently recognized at a White House ceremony announcing the first round of Preserve America grants totaling nearly $3.5 million. There are 295 designated Preserve America communities across the United States. The program provides federal funds on a matching basis to assist Preserve America communities with marketing, planning, and educational efforts associated with protection and appropriate use of community heritage.

"There are significant economic, educational, and cultural benefits that historic preservation, through efforts such as heritage tourism, brings to a community," said John L. Nau, III, Chairman, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. "Sustainable preservation is not a cost for maintaining the past; it is an investment in building the future."

The city of Rochester received a $70,000 grant for the Olmsted Parks interpretive signage project. Grant funds will be used to design and fabricate identification and interpretive signs for the Olmsted Park System in Rochester. The objective is to educate local residents and visitors about the extent, historical significance, and evolution of the city's park system, which is one of only four complete systems in the United State designed by Olmsted.

"My vision for the city of Rochester recognizes the importance of economic development and education. Our Olmstead Parks are jewels in our community are enjoyed by visitors from all over the world," said Rochester Mayor Robert J. Duffy. "The 'Preserve America' program funding will not only help enhance the experience for tourists, but will educate all who use our park system on the historic contributions of Frederick Law Olmstead and the role that those parks have played in our heritage."

The town of Roxbury received a $40,575 grant for "Rail Ride into Yesteryear - Looking at the Old in a New Way." The project will develop and implement an "immersive" heritage tourism program in Roxbury that will run for three Saturdays in the summer of 2006.

"We are thrilled that this funding - and the planning that went into it - will enable us to expand our community's strong roots in heritage tourism," said Roxbury Town Supervisor Tom Hynes. "This is a program that is educational with strong opportunities for participation from our young people and our businesses. These heritage tourism Saturdays will boost the local economy while preserving and enhancing the unspoiled quality that makes the hamlet of Roxbury a pleasure for visitors and residents alike."

Municipalities are encouraged to consult with their state historic preservation office to apply for designation as a Preserve America Community. The initiative recognizes communities that protect and celebrate their heritage; use their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization; and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs.

In 2001, Commissioner Castro was appointed by President George Bush as Vice-Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The Preserve America initiative was developed in cooperation with the Advisory Council, as well as the U.S. Departments of Interior and Commerce. The Advisory Council promotes the preservation, enhancement and productive use of historic resources and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy.

New York State has 17 Preserve America Communities. The other communities are: Beacon, Brockport, Cortland, Great Neck Plaza, Ithaca, Liberty, Newburgh, Peekskill, Pittsford, Putnam County, Rensselaer County, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Schenectady County and Troy. For information on these communities and the Preserve America initiative and its programs, visit