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French sawmill to serve as centerpiece of effort

TICONDEROGA - The centerpiece of the new Ticonderoga Quality Destination Plan is a replica sawmill that officials hope will become a tourist attraction.

A French sawmill sat on the north side of the LaChute River near the falls in 1758, Ti Supervisor Bob Dedrick said. Plans call for it to be reconstructed with grant money.

"We feel this could be a major tourist attraction," Dedrick said. "It would compliment the Ti Heritage Museum, which tells the story of Ti's industrial history along the river. It ties in nicely to the historical nature of the community.

"Everyone I've spoken to thinks this is a great idea," he added. "Everyone's on board with this."

Local officials have checked with regulatory agencies and there are no roadblocks to the construction - except funding. Local leaders are confident grant money can be found for the project.

"We'll start seeking grants in January and hope for a grant to be awarded in 2010," Dedrick said.

The sawmill project is one of the "highest priorities" of the Ticonderoga Quality Destination Plan, Dedrick said. The plan has been formed by a group of local volunteers and a professional consultant. It includes 11 actions designed to boost local business through tourism.

The sawmill will be operational, making specialized items for sale, Dedrick explained. He said authentic 18th Century items such as poster beams are in high demand.

The set up will be similar the authentic 18th Century sawmill operations in Taylor, N.H., and Sturbridge Village, Mass.

The town of Ticonderoga will own and operate the planned sawmill, although Dedrick stressed it will be constructed with grant money and will be self-sufficient once built. No local tax money will be used for the project, he said.

Environmental concerns such as noise and pollution have been investigated, the supervisor noted, along with esthetics and safety.

"There's virtually no noise and very little saw dust," Dedrick said. "It's a very clean operation."

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