NORTH CREEK - Unlike most Northeastern communities, the hamlet of North Creek has a bypass, as state Route 28 never enters the Johnsburg business district. For business owners, the 40-year-old Route 28 bypass has hidden North Creek from tourists as they speed by, many unaware of the community's existence.
"I was trying to get to North Creek to see some friends," said Queensbury resident Gary Cutter. "I must be an idiot - I drove right by the whole town and had to stop five miles north for directions."
But for North Creek business owners, Cutter's story is not uncommon. Instead, he is a victim of the effects of the Route 28 bypass.
"People are always telling me that they have been coming to Gore for 20 years and had no idea that North Creek even existed," local business owner Katherine Feiden said. "Many just drive on by totally unaware we are here."
Feiden owns and operates The Foothills, a shop on Main Street in downtown North Creek.
"It seems like 28 acts as a barrier to travelers entering the hamlet," she said.
The bypass was constructed in the 1960s by New York State in order to facilitate easier movement of people and goods through the Adirondack Park. But many business owners argue that the lack of traffic is crippling their viability.
"Back when the state proposed the bypass, the local business owners fought it tooth and nail," Hudson River Trading Company owner Laurie Arnheiter said. "They were afraid it would do exactly what it did - it is an absolute construction abortion which decimated the town."
Arnheiter said that because of local and state sign regulations, notifying travelers of North Creek's existence proves tricky.
Ideas about potential solutions to the bypass are varied.
"I am hopeful that the ski bowl interconnect will at least bring people closer to the downtown," said North Creek Deli and Marketplace owner John Harvey.
"I am hoping to see some signs of sidewalks and crosswalks in the site plan so people will think to cross Route 28 and come to the downtown - I haven't seen any planned sidewalks yet."
The North Creek Ski Bowl - site of the interconnect project - lies on the opposite side of Route 28 in relation to the business district.
Harvey and numerous other business owners said that at present, signage - which is often illegal - is the only means they have to advertise the hidden community.
"A red light at 28 and 28N would be huge, but I don't have my hopes up," he said.
Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed has said that some form of transportation from the base of the interconnect to the downtown is being researched.
He said there is potential for a shuttle bus running from the ski bowl to the business district.
"Long-term plans include discussion of a gondola running from the ski bowl, over 28 and to the train depot," Harvey said. "But who knows if we will ever see that."
However, the ski bowl shuttle would likely only be effective in the winter months and would do little to usher summer and fall tourists into the community.
"We regularly have people miss us," North Creek Rafting Company co-owner Becky Pelton said. "Last week we had a group go all the way up to Indian Lake looking for North Creek."