Utica, NY (WIBX) - The last time Phase II broke ground, former Governor George Pataki was in office and traveled to Herkimer County to officially announce the Erie Canal, Gems Along the Mohawk Expansion Project.

That was 7 years ago—today, Phase II was announced again. Officials behind the project agree it's been a long time coming. Carmella Mantello, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation said the project will also help to stimulate the local economy in the area. She said, "What folks will see is landscaping, more public access, meaning the promenade will be extended further here. More of a visitors center structure and really connecting to what's happening here with the 70 businesses that are located at Gems Along the Mohawk."

The project was federally funded with a $1.1 million dollar grant back in 2003, thanks to former Congressman Sherrie Bhoelert who worked to secure the funding. The project will also include the construction of an outside Amphitheater and the refurbishing of the historic Terminal Building. The idea for the expansion project started with Dr. Renee Scialdo-Shevat, Owner of Gems Along The Mohawk more than 10 years ago. She said the vision for the project is to be a premier destination spot for locals and others visitors.

Assemblyman Marc Butler recognized Scialdo-Shevat at the groundbreaking event saying she not only conceived of the concept, she put the partners together and even took a financial risk to make it all happen.

Bidding for the project's construction starts right away.