Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Preserve has been awarded $250,000 in funding, which will allow the 54-acre fossil park to build a new pavilion and picnic area for programming. The funding is thanks to Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera. An additional $100,000 has been committed to the project by the Town of Hamburg.
This funding is specific to Phase One of Penn Dixie’s expansive capital project, which will include:
- An improved entrance and better accessibility for guests
- A new check-in pavilion that will also be used for programming
- Infrastructure upgrades that will add trail connections
- Improved restroom facilities
Phase Two of the project will include a brand-new visitor center.
“Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve is a destination like no other in our region,” said Rivera. “I am thrilled to be able to help the park on its way to gaining the sort of amenities and facilities worthy of a world-class geological site and tourist spot, and I’m beyond excited to see how the park will expand and evolve through the coming years.”
The park holds the Guinness World Record for the largest fossil dig. On August 25, 2018, 905 people flocked to Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve to take part.
In 2011, the 30-year old park was ranked by a scientific study as the #1 fossil park in the country. As the WNY attraction has become more and more popular, with people visiting from around the world, the need arose for better visitor amenities.
What was once a quarry, and then an illegal dumping ground, is now a coveted WNY cultural attraction that welcomes 18,000 guests annually. With the addition of the park amenities, those numbers will undoubtedly grow.
Currently, efforts are underway to raise a total of $1.5 million for Phase One of the project. This initial wave of funding should help to attract addition funders – public and private – to aid in the effort.
“Hamburg has supported the Penn Dixie Fossil Park since the very beginning,” said Town of Hamburg Supervisor Randy Hoak. “Penn Dixie has brought visitors from around the world to enjoy our community. We are proud to support this capital campaign with $100,000 and applaud Assemblyman Rivera’s generous support to bring Penn Dixie’s vision to reality. These funds are an investment in one of Hamburg’s most beloved non-profit organizations. The Town Board looks forward to future collaboration with Dr. Stokes and his team.”
“Three decades ago, local leaders made the important decision to preserve the former Penn Dixie Cement Quarry in Hamburg,” said Dr. Phil Stokes, Executive Director of Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve. “They recognized the uniqueness and cultural value of this geological resource and protected it for the benefit of future generations. Today, we celebrate the largest community investment in our organization to date. This funding allows us to construct new facilities, attract new patrons from far and wide, provide a more accessible experience, and better serve the people of Western New York.”
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 17 is assisting in the effort.
“In continuance of its long history of supporting the local community, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 17, has partnered with Hamburg’s historic Penn Dixie site,” said Bill Fekete, Business Representative for IUOE Local 17. “Local 17’s Registered Apprentices have donated equipment and time to the improvements at Penn Dixie. Now, Local 17 is proud to support Assemblyman Jon Rivera and his endeavors to secure funding for the next level of upgrades at Penn Dixie.”
Construction on the pavilion, restrooms, and utilities will begin in May 2023.
Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve is located at 4050 North Street in Blasdell, NY 14219