There are lots of projects aimed at visitors
A group that was hatched at Common Ground to write a Park wide recreation plan has completed its work and it will be presented at the July 2013 CGA event in Newcomb. In cooperation with AATV, they received a NCREDC grant ($108,000) to build a new web based recreation portal for Park visitors to showcase everything a visitor might want to know about the park, indoors, outdoors, all seasons, all over the region. The goal is to spread visitors around more, use specifically promoted events as season extenders.
A spinoff effort from the same group is working with local people in the five towns impacted by the Finch land acquisitions. They are charged with coming up with a plan that turns the new Forest Preserve additions into a much needed economic boost for the towns based on recreation. At the closing of the recent phase of sales to the State, The Nature Conservancy contributed $500,000 to help the five towns with this effort.
Governor Cuomo has set up a Whitewater Challenge, for July 21 in Indian Lake as a promotional effort to bring attention to recreation on the new Forest Preserve land acquisitions.
The are quite a few projects underway aimed at improving tourism facilities using REDC grant funding:
The ADK Mountain Club has $221,000 to upgrade hiker facilities at their Heart Lake facility. Port Henry on Lake Champlain has $250,000 to rebuild the Bulwagga Bay recreation facilities. Wilmington got $251,000 to upgrade 3 waterfront parks. Inlet has $248,000 to redesign and rebuild Arrowhead Park. Northville will see $75,000 in improvements for two waterfront parks. Tupper Lake and the other communities hosting the 90 mile ADK Canoe Classic will see $445,000 in projects. Lake George will see new public docks ($170,000) and park improvements. Lake Placid will build multi-use recreational fields (think Lacrosse) on top of closed landfills.
Also, a $2 million capital loan fund was set up for tourism projects.
Separately, DEC has plans to replace the docks at Second Pond, a heavily used place to put in boats near Lower Saranac Lake.
A big private initiative is construction of a new 100 room hotel in Lake Placid. The Sagamore in Bolton Landing on Lake George announced it will be open all year and the same owners have purchased The Lake Placid Lodge. Maybe some hi-end tourism will move people around the Park?
DEC has opened a new 12 mile inter-hamlet trail between Inlet and Raquette Lake for snowmobiles, hikers, bikes, etc. At the same time, DEC closed 2 miles of road and 46 miles of back country snowmobile trail, and then the APA reclassified 15,000 acres as wilderness instead of wild forest. Protect thinks accommodating today’s machines that groom snowmobile trails are illegal, so they sued the State. It is not clear how the suit will impact other inter-hamlet trail projects.
The Rail-Trail debate has stepped ahead. The State DOT will open and review the plan for the Utica-Lake Placid rail corridor. This could take a year or two.
Use of the back country, at least by people intent on becoming 46ers, is doing well. So well in fact, that the volunteers that run the 46er club say they added 412 people to their 7000 members in 2012 alone. Saying it is now too much work, they are changing their policies.
Lake George, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are all working on Main Street revitalization plans.
If we were to name all this diverse activity it would be the “Whole Park Tourism Initiative”. By “whole” we mean geographically but also indoor as well as outdoor recreation, accommodations, places to shop, eat and so on – the “whole visitor experience”. The big change is to promote the broad scope of possible experiences for visitors to the region, putting emphasis on the scale and scope of the entire region.
And, in the “never going to happen” category…
It is clear now that, other than specific fees for, say, a campsite, ski pass, fishing/hunting license, or a bed tax, there will never be a general ADK Park user fee.
But, one day, there may still be a no-fee system to limit the flow of people in crowded places at peak times – a free system (e.g. Cascade Mtn or some boat launches). If you want an example of this, check out how free admissions to the 911 memorial in NYC are handled. Here, you could get the permit off the internet and wear it on a trail, like you do a ski pass, hunting license, etc. This isn’t needed all over, just is busy spots, just in busy season.
The Village of Lake George and, separately, Essex County have sent notice to the Governor’s office that, if casinos became legal in NY, they would be interested in being a site for one. Since then the Governor signed a deal with the indian casino that leaves the with the exclusive gaming location in the 8 northern counties. So we won’t be seeing a casino in the Adirondacks.