By Jordan Muhlestein
The mayor of Palmyra, N. Y., visited BYU campus Monday as part of a Utah visit promoting tourism to historic sites in upstate New York.
Along with many historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Palmyra is the home of many significant sites in the history of the Erie Canal.
“If people make a multi-day trip to the area, we can offer a lot more than just LDS Church sites,” Mayor Vicky Daly said.
Daly, along with her husband, Bob, has spoken with tour guides, business leaders and Utah Governor Olene Walker about making Palmyra a more attractive tourist destination to Utahns.
While visiting Old Deseret village in Salt Lake City, Daly arranged for Palmyra”s Canal District to promote Old Deseret village, and vice versa.
“Palmyra has an exceedingly active organization with control over the historic district,” Palmyra Mayor Vicky Daly said.
While at BYU, Daly presented a list of Palmyra businesses offering special discounts to visitors. A printable list of these discounts can be found at the village Web site, www.palmyrany.com.
Despite having only 1.3 square miles of total area, Palmyra village plays host to more than 200,000 tourists each year, said Bob Daly.
“When people think of New York, they think of New York City, but there are a lot of rural areas that are very nice,” he said.
The town of Palmyra was founded in 1789, and the village was incorporated in 1804. In New York, the state is divided into counties, which are then divided into townships, with the business center of the town being a village.
Mayor Daly is mayor over the 3,500 people who live in the village, but has no direct authority over the town of Palmyra.
“These divisions make you pay more taxes,” Daly said. “If you live in a village, you pay village tax, town tax, county tax, state tax and federal tax.”
LDS Church sites have historically been the most popular in both the town and village of Palmyra, but the state of New York is promoting the Erie Canal as a tourist destination, Mayor Daly said.
“Wayne County has more canal artifacts than any other county adjacent to the canal,” she said.
Palmyra recently finished renovations of both its historic Main and Canal Streets, making walking tours of the village and canal convenient. The Erie Canal, which closed to commercial watercraft in the early 1970s, now allows passenger boats and even overnight cruises.
Daly said another innovation for Palmyra is the addition of a hotel, the Palmyra Inn, that will house students from universities and LDS Institutes of Religion. Classes will be held from September through April, leaving the hotel open to tourists during the summer.
Steve Israelsen, general manager of the Palmyra Inn, said those investing in the construction of the inn have visited Palmyra and found a need for a place for people to stay, especially because of its central location, within 400 miles of New York, Boston and Washington D. C.
“[If one] went to Nauvoo, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere,” Israelsen said. “With Palmyra, you can go on tours every weekend.”
Richard and Barbara Fox, who toured BYU with the Dalys, recently returned from an LDS mission to Palmyra, where he served as director of the church historic sites in Palmyra.
Barbara Fox said Palmyra”s historic sites have improved in recent years, including the dedication of a new visitor”s center at the Hill Cumorah, complete with interactive exhibits and a new cinematic depiction of Joseph Smith”s first vision.
“It is a wonderful place,” Fox said. “Once you visit, it will always be in your memories.”