NORTH CREEK - After several years of planning and mountains of paperwork, Johnsburg now owns a swath of land that connects the two ski areas in town.
This "Ski Bowl interconnect" site will someday allow people to ski or ride a chairlift between the two slopes.
Johnsburg has been deeded the rights to this 11.5-acre plot of land adjacent to the North Creek Ski Bowl by Frontstreet Development, a firm that is constructing a resort village adjacent to Gore Mountain Ski Center. The transaction, which bore a price tag of $94,000, was recorded March 2 in the Warren County Clerk's office.
With the property in town hands, the 'Little Gore' interconnect is edging ever closer to becoming a reality- filtering Gore Mountain skiers and dollars to the base of the North Creek ski bowl.
"The significance of all of this is that it will literally take thousands of skiers who would have otherwise bypassed our businesses and place them at the very edge of our business district," Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said Thursday. "This is an example of this community finding a balance between its economic interests, its history and the environment."
Some citizens have questioned the close association between the interconnect project and Frontstreet Development's private endeavors. It has been suggested that the bulk of tourists dollars generated by the project will end up primarily filtering to the strategically placed $200 million Frontstreet resort that will be located mere yards from the base area and feature not only lodging, but also restaurants and attractions.
In 2006, this close association prompted the Adirondack Park Agency to temporarily halt the town initiative so it could assess the potential impact of the Frontstreet project.
However, Goodspeed said this week, that any association is overblown.
"These are two different issues," Goodspeed said. "I don't see how anyone could be against the interconnect, regardless of their feelings of Frontstreet."
A New York State Comptroller's report states that an estimated 74,000 skiers will spend an estimated $7.4 million in the communities surrounding Gore Mountain when the interconnect is operational. However, these current figures are significantly lower than originally projected by the comptroller's office in the project's infancy in 2005.
Due in large part to a $6 million dollar economic development grant secured by State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury), a refurbished triple-chair lift has been purchased and preparations for its installation are underway.
Johnsburg is currently seeking funding from the Olympic Regional Development Authority for operational costs, including staffing and snow-making equipment.
The Indian Lake, Warrensburg and Chestertown Town Boards unanimously passed resolutions this week, urging ORDA to fund the initiative. Several other communities will vote on similar resolutions of support in the coming days.
"We have to stick together, especially when dealing with regional issues like Gore Mountain," said Indian Lake Supervisor Barry Hutchins.
According to Goodspeed, the interconnect will have adequate elevation to allow access to several Gore Mountain trail systems including Hudson Trail and the Hudson Bypass Trail networks, but will also lead many skiers to the base of the ski bowl.
"It is a perfect example of the town and the mountain working together for a common purpose," he said.
A shuttle-bus system is a likely addition to the venture and contributions from local businesses may be required for its funding.
Over the last year, no-less than 15 business have either opened their doors or expanded. Goodspeed interprets this fact as an indication that the future is bright for Johnsburg.
"This four-season tourism model is the future of the Adirondack Park," he said. "When people come here they see an authentic ski community-the interconnect will only enhance that."
He argues that the interconnect will create jobs and strengthen the economic foundation of the community.
"This is a tremendous economic opportunity, " Goodspeed said. "This will allow people who left to come back."