Presque Isle nature center
named for former Gov. Ridge
ERIE (AP) - Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge returned
to his hometown to dedicate a nature center bearing his
name at a state park he once called the "jewel of the
Ridge's successor, Gov. Mark Schweiker, joined the former
governor Monday to dedicate the 58,000-square foot Tom
Ridge Center at Presque Isle State Park.
Ridge gave $25 million in state money for the center
- the largest sum allotted to a state park during his
administration - on his final day as governor before leaving
for Washington, D.C.
"I've spent my lifetime here, from summers working as
an adolescent, to weekends spent with my family, to officials
visits as governor," Ridge said. "I will never grow tired
of this park and its unique beauty."
The multilevel center, which will be located just outside
the park entrance, will mimic the boomerang shape of the
park, which protrudes into Presque Isle Bay in Lake Erie.
Construction, which began in October, is expected to be
finished in 2004.
The building will provide information for park visitors,
including eco-tourists taking cruises of the Great Lakes.
It also will be used for research by local colleges, including
Edinboro University, the Penn State-Behrend campus and
the Pennsylvania Sea Grant, which monitors the lake.
In a nod to an environmental program started by Ridge
in 1993 - "Growing Greener" - the center will be heated
by passive solar heat. A 70-foot observation tower will
serve as a solar collector and ventilator to distribute
air through the building.