Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An Uncas Leap of Faith

If you've lived in Norwich for longer than an hour you've heard or been involved in one or more discussions about the city's historic heritage as a fulcrum for economic development. And it certainly makes sense even if the dollars and cents have so far been slow in showing themselves. 

A friend of mine's reaction when I told him we had settled in Norwich says it all, or could, 'You're right in the middle of New England where American History comes from!" Yes, indeed. Put a feather in my hat and refer to me as whatever kind of pasta you fancy. 

The trouble not just for us here but whenever the idea is offered as an economic development tool, there's more to historic tourism than fancy signs that say "On this date a long time ago, something important happened (near) here" and repeating a snazzy slogan like 'we have history up the a---nose.'Well, I think it's catchy. 

You may have already seen two reasons, the above paragraph, for why I'm not leading an effort that needs your good ideas (I've got the bad ones under control). I took advantage of the lovely weather this past weekend to wander from the Upper Falls Heritage Park to Uncas Leap and then down the Heritage Walkway to the Harbor. 

I wasn't alone, as I passed young families with prams and more on the way, a few serious walkers striding purposely past us leisure-time wanderers but there was plenty of room for more of us, lots more of us. 

It's really beautiful any time of the year. The area is not only historically significant to the city but is also a sacred part of Mohegan Tribe history as Uncas Leap, on the banks of the Yantic River, was the site on September 17, 1643, of the Battle of Great Plain between the Mohegan and Narragansett tribes.

Thanks to a collaboration with the city, the Mohegan Tribe, and the Norwich Historical Society, a week from tonight, at seven in Norwich Free Academy's Slater Museum, there's a public informational meeting about the Uncas Leap Heritage Area master plan. 
And the most important guest is you. Read on.... 

Both the presentation and master plan have some serious dollars behind them. The state awarded $500,000 to the project last fall and that was in addition to the almost quarter of a million dollars the city received in 2015 from the Department of Economic and Community Development plus $23,000 the Norwich Community Development Corporation received from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

You might recall it was late last spring when the historical society and the Mohegan tribe teamed up to introduce (with a great response) the new Uncas Leap Trail as part of its Walk Norwich program of self-guided walking tours.Think of the presentation as the next step, pardon the pun.

Next Wednesday Milone & MacBroom, the project's consultant, will offer an overview of the Uncas Leap master plan and lead a discussion about the city's vision for the site as a cultural heritage and tourism attraction, You're needed for the breakout sessions that will be held to gather reactions and ideas (and hopefully plenty of both).

Maby have had high hopes for a (very) long time about historic tourism. Now we have a plan. It's time to Uncas Leap into action.
-bill kenny

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