Here’s to Lawrence D. Syzdek, chairman of the board of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition. Larry, as his friends call him, has been involved in the Byway since the early days of the advocacy committee at the turn of the millennium. He first was involved on the transportation committee as they inventoried the condition, speeds, and safety of the many segments of the Byway route for the Corridor Management Plan. He has been involved in each of the 10 annual Duathlons, helped with obtaining the New York State Byway status and two years later designation as one of America’s Byways®, and brings a practical approach to Byway issues such as maintaining the agricultural character in the central part of the Byway Corridor. To bring attention to the recreational assets of the Byway Larry walked from the western terminus of the Byway in Schenectady over 13 miles to his farm one Saturday in 2009.
Since early 2009 Larry has chaired the Byway’s board of directors. His soft-spoken leadership style has been invaluable in gaining consensus of the divergent views of eight individual, and at times provincial, local government representatives. He has also been instrumental in two presentations of our “best practices” to your peers at two subsequent National Byway Conferences, one on strategic planning and one on compelling self guided tours.
Larry is an internationally recognized authority on alergens and their control, both indoor and environmental.
Larry and his wife Ruth Olmsted run Shepherd’s Hey Farm and live on the Byway. They raise sheep, geese, chickens and produce wool, eggs, and specialty meats. Unique about the farm is that the large red barn was originally located in the Clute’s Dry Dock community and relocated before 1920 when the Crescent Dam brought the river level up. This is the one place along the Byway where you can see a couple of “guard” llamas peering curiously over the fence as you travel the Byway. In addition to folk fiber crafts Ruth and Larry also organize and practice folk dancing and story telling.