A local college hopes that the visitor interpretive center it took over earlier this year will be able to fund its own operation.
Last year, the visitor interpretive centers in Paul Smiths and Newcomb were shutdown due to New York's ongoing fiscal crisis.
The VICs were formerly run by the state Adirondack Park Agency, but not considered part of the agency's core mission.
The Newcomb VIC has since been taken over by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and at the beginning of this year, Paul Smith's College took over the facilities just a few miles down the road from campus in Franklin County.
While under the auspices of the APA, the state leased the land surrounding the central building from the college. Now, the property and its facilities are controlled by Paul Smith's.
And although that prevents the buildings from falling into disrepair, college officials say they'd rather not continue pumping money into the buildings.
Ken Aaron is director of communications at Paul Smith's College. He says the college spent about $10,000 on a new groomer and may need to spend an additional $25,000 this summer to replace the roof of the VIC's main building.
"We've had the VIC in our possession since the beginning of January," Aaron said.
"At this point, the trails are all open and we're grooming the trails," he added. "We've invested in a trail grooming machine, which our own Jack Burke has been using on a fairly regular basis, putting down fresh corduroy. I know our visitors have been enjoying it."
Aaron says opening the building has been a slow process, but he adds that several local organizations are planning to use the facilities soon.
He also notes that although the VIC isn't operating as it did in the past, it is serving as a useful resource for the college.
"Looking forward into the near future, I know that the Adirondack Center for Writing will be moving its headquarters to the building and they'll be holding an event in April," Aaron said.
"We've got high hopes to hold other cultural events there as well," he added. "There's an auditorium in the VIC building and that's something we just don't have on campus - we have a large meeting space, but no stage. The auditorium at the VIC does have that, which is terrific."
According to Aaron, the Adirondack Park Institute is interested in utilizing space at the VIC building. API has been an active partner in forming ideas for future use of the VIC, Aaron adds.
"They're going to be having space in the building as well," he said. "And I know that the USDA's soil lab has been a tenant there for a while and they'll continue to be a tenant in that space."
Officials hope that some of the jobs that were lost as a result of the VIC's closure will be regained.
"Ultimately I know that our goal is that we'll see some of those jobs that were lost when the state pulled out come back," Aaron said. "How we get there is still a work in progress, but we're definitely hopeful that we will accomplish that."
But here's the catch: college officials don't want to use tuition dollars to restart operations.
Aaron says the hope of people like Dr. John Mills - president of Paul Smith's College - is that a solution will be found in which the facility will raise its own revenue.
"We've always been pretty clear that this can't be something that paid for using our student's tuition dollars," Aaron said. "As we work forward, we expect the ideas we settle on will be able to raise some money."
"And we are very open to suggestions from the community on what they'd like to see there," he added. "This has long been a community-based facility and we'd like to keep it that way."
Aaron notes that Paul Smith's College is currently in talks with a local business man interested in managing the VIC.
If the deal is finalized, Brian McDonnell of Mac's Canoe Livery in Lake Clear will oversee operations at the facility and look for means of generating revenue.
In the past, McDonnell oversaw operations at the Harrietstown-owned Dewey Mountain Ski Center.