ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers have tentatively approved the creation of a marketing region for a cluster of central Adirondack towns collectively known as the Five Towns.
The project, still in its conceptual stages, would bind together Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson in Essex County, and Indian Lake and Long Lake in Hamilton County.
Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO James McKenna pitched the idea to lawmakers last week, citing discussions with several business owners in Newcomb.
Efforts would likely tie into those currently underway in Hamilton County, McKenna said, and will not impact the county budget.
“I’m not looking for any additional money from Essex County,” said McKenna.
Ron Moore (R-North Hudson) said he liked the concept of an Upper Hudson Recreation Hub, but much of the details underpinning future use of those lands is riding on the classification of the Boreas Pond Tract, the parcel purchased by the state earlier this year.
The Adirondack Park Agency is currently holding public hearings across the state to glean public input before the state Department of Conservation determines a recreational usage plan for the property, primarily located in Newcomb and North Hudson.
“That’s the final link that would link these communities together,” Moore said.
The conceptual project joins other efforts underway to link the communities, including a state-sponsored multi-use recreational trail.
Steve McNally (D-Minerva) said after the meeting that those efforts have been underway for years.
“We’re going to try to make our five towns a destination,” he said.
In Minerva, horseback riding elements will be key, he said. A town-owned campsite is being outfitted to be more equestrian-friendly.
“People will come in the summer,” McNally said. “It’s a nice place to stay, camp and use as a base camp.”
Wes Miga (R-Newcomb) said diversity is important, and each community will ideally bring different offerings to the table, from mountain bike riding to snowmobiling.
“If we’re all providing the same stuff, we’re not providing differentiation,” Miga said.
Increased recreational offerings has the opportunity to bring millions in tourist dollars to the communities, he said.
Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), the county’s representative for the land use discussions, said he liked the concept.
“I think this is a great idea, and hopefully there’s more things in the future that’s going to tie everyone together,” he said.
The resolution unanimously passed the Economic Development Committee.
If formally approved by the full board next month, the region would join others promoted by ROOST, including the High Peaks, Malone and Lake Champlain.
Each have tailored web properties and destination marketing plans, or detailed visions for how the regions are marketed to both domestic and international visitors.