Tourism office receives grant that will lead to an eventual relocation

The Tioga County Tourism Visitors Center has taken the first step toward relocating its office. The current location on North Avenue in Owego is in a floodplain, and so the Tourism Office has procured a grant to help fund a future project to move both the Tioga County Tourism Visitors Center and the Records Office to a currently vacant lot located at 118 Southside Drive.

The $112,960 grant award, announced on Dec. 15 by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, is part of the NY Rising Community Reconstruction (NYRCR) Program that provides $11.6 million in funding as part of round four of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative.

Executive Director of Storm Recovery, Jamie Rubin said, “As a cornerstone of NY Rising, the Community Reconstruction Program is a bottom-up effort that seeks to apply lessons learned from recent storms while acknowledging local assets and needs.”

The Tioga County Tourism Visitors Center was one of 24 projects approved in this round of grants. Director of Tioga County Tourism Rebecca Maffei explained that the current office was damaged substantially in the 2011 flooding after Tropical Storm Lee. Although the damage was fixed, Maffei explained that this move could help avert future problems, as the new location is outside of the floodplain. She said, “Our office was located in the flood plain and there was extensive damage that has been fixed but we are also in danger because of where we are located. The NY Rising program is a flood mitigation initiative which also looks toward relocation as a mitigation tactic.”

The new location is a lot owned by the Tioga County Industrial Development Agency. However, as it is a vacant lot, the Tourism Office will have to gather more funding into order to pay for the construction of a new building. Maffei said, “This is seed money to get it started.”

The project is still in very early planning stages and Maffei said that the Tourism Office is not yet at the point of hiring an engineer to design the new building. She said, “It’s exciting that we got the grant but it’s a long way to go to see this project through to the end.”

The Tioga County Tourism Office is an office of the Tioga County Local Development Corporation, which is a non-profit, non-government entity.