Jennings picked as regional commissioner for Genesee parks

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Thom Jennings ran three times for Orleans County Legislature, saying he wanted a role to be an advocate for county residents.

Jennings, a Democrat, never managed a victory against Henry Smith for legislator.

But Jennings believes he has found an outlet to represent the county. He has been appointed by Gov. Cuomo to serve as a regional commissioner of the Genesee State Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission oversees state parks sites in a five-county area that includes Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Wyoming counties.

The appointment, which was approved by the State Senate, is for seven years.

“I’ve always been a strong supporter of recreation and historic preservation so I think this appointment is right up my alley,” said Jennings, a former chairman of the Albion Historic Preservation Commission. “I ran for office hoping that I would be able to serve the people of Orleans County and I think that this appointment gives me the opportunity to do that. I’m really excited.

The state park sites in Orleans include Lakeside Beach State Park and the Oak Orchard Marine State Park.

I would like to see the commission look at claiming one of the old sandstone quarries and opening it to the public. I think the state should reclaim the very first sandstone quarry that opened in 1837, just north of the canal on Route 63.

The quarry is now privately owned and has been filled in. It could be excavated, and a nice walking trail could be established around the perimeter of the quarry. It could include interpretive panels explaining the significance of Medina sandstone, which was used in so many homes, streets and prominent buildings throughout the region.

The sandstone industry provided thousands of jobs locally, and drew immigrants from Italy, Ireland, Poland and Britain. I think the state is the only entity that has the resources to pull this off.