LAKE GEORGE - The Paul Smiths Visitors Interpretive Center is set to close to the public in roughly three weeks -but if or when it will reopen remains a mystery.
As part of statewide budget cuts, the Adirondack Park Agency is shedding its two interpretive centers - which have been operating for more than two decades.
The Newcomb center will remain operating under the direction of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. But attempts to find an operator for the Paul Smiths facility haven't gone so smoothly, APA Executive Director said this week.
"We're working through the steps and we're hopeful," she said. "We know how much these facilities mean to the Adirondack Park and to the public."
Costing the state about $350,000 to operate this year, the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center will shut its doors to the public Oct. 10, but the center's trail system and bathrooms will remain open to the public for the time being.
The state will officially close the Center on Dec. 31, Martino said.
"We're currently in negotiations with a number of parties in terms of reuse of the facility," Martino said. "But our plans in response to the budget mandate will include closure of the facility effective Dec. 31."
Unless an operator is found, the popular center - which teaches about the local environment and has hosted a full schedule of public programs -will sit dormant after that date.
The APA has been negotiating for months with potential operators, including the Adirondack Park Institute and Paul Smith's College. The property on which the VIC sits is owned by the college and has been leased to the state for years.
"We're continuing to have discussions with the Adirondack Park Institute and working through steps in terms of the interests they have expressed," Martino said.
Paul Smith's College spokesman Ken Aaron said Friday that talks between the interested parties continue and the college remains confident the issue can be resolved.
"We continue to work with the state," he said. "As far as I know, we're working well and hope to have a resolution soon."
Over 20 years, about 500,000 people have passed through the two interpretive centers.