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Preparing for eclipse visitors with ramped up staffing, new parking fee at county park

By Joanne Beck
Paul Osborn and Laura Wadhams
Genesee County Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn and Assistant Engineer Laura Wadhams discuss plans to deal with an expected surge in traffic and visitors for the April 8 eclipse. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

If you’re planning to visit Genesee County Park to see the total solar eclipse on April 8, you might want to take some refreshments, a blanket, and for certain — Alexander Hamilton.

County Highway officials have suggested charging $10 per vehicle for parking that day due to the expected surge in visitors and the need for additional staffing, overtime, traffic control, and related additional expenses. 

“So we're on the list with the Chamber of Commerce. We're also on the list with Rochester Museum and Science Center. We received a telescope from them, and then we also received eclipse glasses, 1,000 eclipse glasses to hand out, so we'll be doing that at the gate when we collect the fee to park,” Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn said during Tuesday’s Public Service meeting. “Since it's April 8, it's a month earlier than we normally would open the park, so we have to turn the water on ahead of time. Plus, we're going to have it at three o'clock when the actual event takes place. So we have staff that has to do traffic control and whatnot, so we're gonna have additional overtime.”

Parking will be directed to fill several lots, he said, and on Memory Lane, with no clearcut way to know just how many visitors will actually come to the park that day.

“There’s no perfect thing. I mean, we’re anticipating a quarter of a million people added to the county area, so we’re hoping that it could be less, it could be more,” he said. 

Assistant County Engineer Laura Wadhams added that the Chamber of Commerce staff has said to expect the day to be busy.

“The Chamber of Commerce is telling us they are expected to come to this region that day, they’ll be split up between Rochester and Buffalo and all those places, but Genesee County is in the path of totality,” she said.

The path of totality — when the moon completely covers the sun, creating a total eclipse -- will provide a few minutes of eerie and atypical darkness for the region, given it will be around 3 p.m. in the afternoon. 

The park’s path will be one-way in and out, from Bethany Center Road in and out the Raymond Road entrance, Osborn said. The parking fee is to generate $14,000 of revenue for the county park, which would offset that extra staffing expense, he said.

“So there has been a lengthy process with the Rochester Museum and Science Center and the Transportation Authority, looking at how many cars came into the one out west in 2017. And the traffic patterns in and the traffic patterns out, along with the fact that we are a day trip from the greatest population centers, and all of the hotels in Rochester and Buffalo are already booked out,” Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein said. “That kind of supports the math that has gone into their estimates.”

If you check out most charts of the path of totality for the impending eclipse, it travels from the southwest United States and hits nearby locales of Rochester and Buffalo, though Genesee County Chamber staffers have listed several local sites for viewing, including Alexander, Batavia, Bergen, Corfu, East Bethany, Oakfield, Pembroke and Stafford.

For more information about the eclipse, additional viewing locations and related events, go HERE.

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