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Massena agrees to join RiverQuest partnership

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MASSENA — The town and village have agreed to partner with Brockville, Ontario, on a tourist initiative called “RiverQuest,” which officials describe as a “regional campus” partnership composed of Thousand Islands-area destinations and partners.

“We would become a quest,” town Councilman Albert N. Nicola told board members recently. “It doesn’t require anything on our part. We don’t have to build anything.”

It also requires no financial contribution, according to Mr. Nicola and Mayor James F. Hidy, who attended a presentation on the project four weeks ago as a follow-up to a visit they made last year to hear about the plans.

Mr. Hidy told the council that the project includes the Aquatarium, a discovery center in downtown Brockville with hands-on exhibits for children, an arena, a boardwalk and other features.

According to a news bulletin on its website, the Aquatarium, which formerly was known as the Maritime Discovery Centre, is a $20 million, 27,000-square-foot tourist attraction to be located on Brockville’s waterfront alongside the Tall Ships Landing condominium development. The Aquatarium is a public-private partnership with the city of Brockville.

RiverQuest will help visitors find and pursue the attractions and offerings they are interested in as a follow up to their Aquatarium visit. Organizers are focusing on tourism opportunities on both sides of the river, including Massena, Mr. Hidy said.

“It’s starting to get a lot of momentum,” Mr. Hidy said. “Massena already has a silver bullet” with the St. Lawrence Seaway, New York Power Authority and two state parks, he said. “They want to make Massena one of the destination points.”

Tourists would visit different destinations, where they would learn about historical events at those sites. Then they would have an opportunity to answer a series of computer questions to earn points.

“But they have to go to the next place. It empowers the tourist to go to the next site,” Mr. Hidy said. “They wanted Massena to become one of their partners. They wanted no money.”

Instead, Mr. Nicola said, the project is being funded by provincial funds and private dollars.

Both town and village officials approved resolutions last week to join the effort. Another meeting regarding the project will be held at NYPA’s Hawkins Point Visitors Center, Mr. Hidy said.

“You’d be very impressed,” he said.

More information about the initiative and tourism opportunities is available at www. 1000islandsriverquest.com.

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