The Cattaraugus County Legislature's tourism promotion arm may ask the state to revise plans for a rest area along the Southern Tier Expressway to maximize the exposure for local tourist attractions.
The communities of Olean, Salamanca and Allegany agree a Department of Transportation proposal for a stop at Exit 24 in Allegany for eastbound travelers is not the best location, according to John Sayegh, a Tourism Promotion Agency board member and director of the county's Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism.
The DOT proposal also includes a State Police substation, a unisex restroom, a storage area and a display area for tourism information.
In a building measuring 1,160 square feet, an area of about 320 square feet would be available to the agency for displaying brochures.
Sayegh told board members at a Thursday afternoon meeting that the agency's Steering Committee will begin to study the matter in depth and work with several Allegany-area communities to determine if the suggested location is the best one.
After the Steering Committee makes recommendations to the tourism agency in October, feedback should be given to the DOT at the earliest opportunity, he said.
The City of Salamanca and the Seneca Nation of Indians have expressed hope that some consideration will be given to a facility at the future intersection of a completed Route 219, he added.
A third possible area under scrutiny is the Hinsdale area within the expressway's unusually wide median strip near the intersection of Route 16.
Sayegh said that is a more desirable site for westbound tourists which also could be accessed by eastbound travelers.
Pamela Forge of the Western New York travel guide, "Explore New York," said the Thruway stop in Angola also is located in a median.
Funds come from food concessions and $75 fees charged to tourism businesses distributing brochures at the rest area.
Members discussed Chautauqua County's ongoing attempt to change the DOT's plans for a state-sponsored rest area at Bemus Point.
There, local officials prefer a spot near Findlay Lake, farther west and in the eastbound lane of traffic, and reportedly have pledged $25,000 to help pay for a welcome facility there.
Congress recently designated the Southern Tier Expressway as I-86, within the federal interstate system and eligible for Highway Beautification funds.
However, the change will not be widely recognized until the state DOT erects new identification signs.
In other business, the board discussed allocating $5,000 of its annual budget for printing of promotional merchandise bearing the "Cattaraugus County -- Naturally Yours" logo.
The merchandise would be purchased and printed from locally-bases businesses, or from U.S. industries if at all possible.
The agency will choose from samples to be displayed at the October meeting and then would distribute the merchandise, such as T-shirts, coffee mugs and post cards, to members for resale.
The board also decided to take no further action on proposals to sponsor a grant for a welcome center at the former Castle Restaurant property and for an informational presentation on the West Virginia Tamarack Center.