The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Hector’s Route 414 now a scenic byway

  • The stretch of State Route 414 that runs along the lower east side of Seneca Lake is pretty much the essence of the Finger Lakes.

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  • The stretch of State Route 414 that runs along the lower east side of Seneca Lake is pretty much the essence of the Finger Lakes.
    There are sweeping views of Seneca, waterfalls tumbling out of gorges, and the 16,000-acre Finger Lakes National Forest.
    There’s vineyards and fruit orchards. There’s wineries, craft breweries and distilleries. There’s arts and crafts shops, farm stands and restaurants like the Stonecat Cafe offering locally grown organic food.?There’s also Native American and Revolutionary War historic sites.
    Throughout the summer and fall, Route 414 is bustling with wine tasters and leaf peepers from all over the Northeast and beyond.
    And now, the highway has been officially designated as one of New York State’s scenic byways.
    Dozens of elected officials, state DOT representatives, residents and business owners gathered in Hector on Wednesday afternoon for a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
    The newly-designated Seneca Lake Scenic Byway will stretch from Watkins Glen about 18 miles north through Hector and Lodi.
    Efforts to get the designation arose out of a public meeting 10 years ago at the Hector fire hall, explained Barry O’Neill, a bed-and-breakfast owner and a member of a committee of locals who pushed for the scenic byway designation.
    About 300 people came to the meeting, and they talked about some issues, including ways to boost tourism on the wine trail, O’Neill said.
    The idea of a scenic byway was raised, and a group was formed to prepare the nomination documents.
    O’Neill said a driving force was the late Bruce Adams, a Hector native who also lived in Painted Post for a time, working as a scientist at Corning Inc.
    Although it took a decade, Adams’ vision finally made it to the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and came to fruition.
    “In many ways, it’s symbolic, but there’s also a lot of things we’d like to do,” O’Neill said. “We want to create pull-off spots for cars at overlooks. We’d like to create bicycling lanes, and we’d like to put up signage and informational kiosks. Having the designation will make it easier to get some grant money to do those things.”
    A non-profit board will accept funds and administer a DOT-approved “corridor management plan.”
    The Seneca Lake Scenic Byway is now one of two dozen scenic byways in New York, located along the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, throughout the Adirondacks, in the Hudson River Valley, and on Long Island.
    They are defined by the state as “representative of a region’s scenic, recreational, cultural, natural, historic or archaeological significance.”
    When people plan vacations and browse tourism websites, scenic byways grab their attention, said Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, who represents Schuyler County and co-sponsored the bill designating Route 414. “It’s just a way to catch somebody’s eye, and maybe they’ll say, ‘Oh, let’s go down 414 and check it out,’” O’Mara said.

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