Plans in works to draw more visitors off the highway
© Darrell Cole - The Amherst News
Amherst town councillor Robert Bird (left) and Cumberland municipal councillor Don Smith look over plans for revitalizing the entrance to Amherst and Cumberland County with businesswoman Elizabeth Smith-McCrossing.
FORT LAWRENCE – Efforts are underway to spruce up the entryway to Amherst and Cumberland County.
Using a 1997 study as their guide, municipal councillors from Amherst and the Municipality of Cumberland are joining together with business people to give an area along Lower LaPlanche a facelift to help draw traffic off the Trans-Canada Highway.
"It's something we've been talking about for so long, but nothing has ever been done. It's still in the early stages, but we're hoping to have something here that will get people to pull off the highway and come into Amherst and Cumberland County," Cumberland municipal councillor Don Smith said.
The study garnered quite a bit of attention when it was completed 16 years ago, but it was never acted upon for several reasons including the cost and the inability to bring all the partners from the public and private sectors together.
Amherst businesswoman Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin got a copy of the study from Bernie Brennan at Fort Equipment and has been working with Smith and Amherst town councillor Robert Bird to see what can be implemented.
"The study may have been completed in 1997, but the information contained in it is just as good now was it was then. It's like it was written a week ago," Smith-McCrossin said.
Both Smith and Bird plan to take recommendations to their respective municipalities and they hope to strike a joint committee to move ahead with making the improvements necessary to make the town and county more attractive to visitors.
"Right now you see a lot of traffic headed down this road and turning left back onto the Trans-Canada Highway. We're not saying we're going to get thousands of vehicles off the highway, but if we can even get a couple of hundred that's a start," Bird said.
Smith-McCrossin said a partnership of business, the county and the town can bring a lot of benefits to businesses in Amherst and along the Sunrise Trail and Glooscap Trail.
To date, the county has been clearing land around the interpretive billboards at the border and has put a number of picnic tables in place. Plans also include seeding additional land and growing grass to make the area more friendly to visitors.
Bird and Smith said they'd like to reach out to Renewable Energy Developers Inc. (Sprott Power) to possible develop interpretive panels for the $60-million windfarm on the marsh.
"We already see a lot of people stopping here to get a good look at the turbines. It would be great if we could get some panels describing the turbines and things like how tall the turbines are and how much electricity they generate," Bird said.
The group also envisions a roadside farmer's market and other attractions.