Hoping to draw more visitors to an area already rich with history and natural beauty, five HWS students are working in conjunction with the Finger Lakes Institute this summer to design three different bike routes for Sampson State Park. The routes will give walkers and cyclists different cell-phone tours of the 2,000- acre park on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake.
Cari Varner, program manager for the Finger Lakes Institute Community Design Center and the Sustainable Community Development Program, is working with Stacey Davis ’15, Caroline Demeter ’15, Jordan Mueller ’15, Shani Saul ’15 and Rousseau Nutter ’16 to research, develop, and implement the bike routes.
Still in the research and development stage, the students have designed three different bike routes: Military History, Flora and Fauna, and Seneca Lake & Water. Each route will include a different set of unique information relating to the area. Markers on the road will be placed throughout the route, as well as signs indicating stops at which riders and walkers can use their cell phones to dial a number that will provide them with the information.
“We want to provide people with an opportunity to learn about the rich history of Sampson and about the flora and fauna of Seneca Lake and the area,” says Varner. “It’s an opportunity for physical education as well as a great learning opportunity.”
The idea was spearheaded last fall by Josh Teeter, who works with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and historic preservation. “The idea is to promote recreation and interpret our park’s history and natural history,” says Teeter. “The tours will help the local community by providing info about things like the wineries, and promote local fitness by hopefully encouraging people to use the different routes of a known length.”
Although bikes are already available for rent at Sampson, Teeter hopes the routes will “break down” barriers like the sometimes confusing trails that can prevent people from utilizing the paths.
The students began work on the routes this summer by conducting preliminary research on the best methods and techniques for cell-phone tours and by exploring the park on bikes to get a feel for the area.
Demeter says that after solidifying the routes with Teeter and deciding where the stops will be located based on “history or views of the lake,” they have been collecting information to use at the stops throughout the routes. They’re working closely with the staff at Sampson to learn about the history and unique features of the area.
The military route is especially relevant to the park, as Sampson was formerly a U.S. Naval Training Station and an U.S. Air Force Base. “I think it’s about the history here, Sampson has been used for so many different things,” says Director of the Military Museum Dolores Dinsmore. “I think the bike tour is a great way to honor veterans and ensure that they’re not being forgotten.”
To get a better sense of what information to include on the military route, students have had several meetings with the Dinsmore and the Sampson staff that run the military museum on site. They’ve also benefited from the help of Korean War Veteran Tommy Kirk, who was stationed at Sampson.
“The people that we met with – including Dolores and Tommy, gave us insight on the history of the base throughout World War II and the Korean War,” says Davis, an environmental studies major. “They provided us with specific details about the base and interesting stories about those that lived on the base that we can incorporate into the cell phone tour on the military history route at Sampson.”
The Seneca Lake route will provide patrons with interesting information on things like uses, facts, history, water life, and the impact of Seneca Lake, while the Flora & Fauna route will feature information on topics like invasive species, rare plants, and animals that live around the park.
After the group finishes collecting information, they will be designing the signs for the stops, recording the information for the tours, as well as designing brochures to provide additional information.