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mailmanMonroe Payne's piece, Within Reach – Finger Lakes Wine, describes the rewarding experiences, charming personalities, and world-renowned wines that define our local vineyards. The author describes the vineyards as "the reason I put up with New York winters." Thousands of tourists agree, flocking to the Finger Lakes year round to indulge in the unique scenery and distinguished wineries – and injecting $4.8 billion into our local economy in the process.

However, the future of our vineyards, and by extension our economy, is at risk.

Crestwood's gas storage proposal threatens an environment that is tailor-made to produce wine. The ensuing gas storage industrialization, along with its pollution, will not only rupture the success of the Finger Lakes vineyards, but will also drive away potential tourists. Already, international winemakers are hesitating to invest in our region until Governor Cuomo makes a decision, driving away new business and economic benefits.

It has taken our region generations to build an incredibly successful and rewarding industry. In 1976 there were only 12 wineries operating in the Finger Lakes, while today there are more than 180 and counting. Our region's success has attracted the attention of Governor Cuomo, who recently designated the Geneva Visitor and Events Center as a state Welcome Center. The Governor also announced a $5 million dollar investment in the promotion of Finger Lakes wines, funding to upgrade the new Welcome Center, and billions of dollars for statewide environmental protections.

I live in Rochester, a part of the NYS designated Finger Lakes Region that has the key airport for visitors to the region. Rochester is one of 31 communities with 1.2 million people that have voted against gas storage expansion. We cannot put the brilliant future of our region at risk. Our progress, and our quality of life, would diminish if Crestwood's gas storage proposal is approved. The Finger Lakes community stands united in urging the Governor to capitalize on his investments by rejecting Crestwood's proposal.

Michael Warren Thomas
Rochester, NY
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