NORTH CREEK - A groundbreaking occurred here Friday for what could eventually be a $200 million development that could transform the economy of northern Warren County.
There were no speeches, no golden shovels.
Instead, there were engineers with transits, workers wielding chainsaws, and men driving earth-moving equipment on a site off Ski Bowl Road.
Friday, contractors for Front Street Development LLC began to clear land and move dirt - in launching an initial phase of Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain, an ambitous residential, resort and commercial complex.
Whether FrontStreet builds all it has envisioned in its master plans is uncertain, Johnsburg Town Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said Tuesday.
He said that FrontStreet was beginning their development project this week by building a road and several townhouses and a gatehouse to the property.
Nearly a dozen or so workers were on the job Friday, Monday and Tuesday, he said, and the developers expect these initial townhouses to be complete by the end of this year.
Goodspeed said the development reflected the optimism in town and the eager anticipation over the Interconnect project linking Gore Mountain with a revitalized North Creek Ski Bowl.
The linkage is expected to not only increase the skiing opportunities at Gore Mountain, but divert thousands of skiers to the ski bowl, close to the amenities of downtown North Creek.
The Interconnect, which links the base of Gore's Burnt Ridge trail with the summit of the Ski Bowl, got a substantial boost this past week.
A lawsuit filed by an environmental group, challenging the state ski resort's development plans - which included clearing land for eight ski trails and constructing four gondolas including links to the Ski Bowl - was rejected by a state judge.
Filed last year by the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, the suit namedthe Adirondack Park Agency, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Olympic Regional Development Authority as defendants. The group claimed the agencies skirted their own policies and procedures and bypassed state law in approving the development plans.
But state Supreme Court Judge Michael C. Lynch wrote in a decision dated July 13 that those charges lacked merit.
Lynch stated that the improvements to state-owned lands were legal and didn't represent an unconstitutional "commercialization" of forest preserve lands merely because a positive economic impact is the expected outcome.
Goodspeed said Tuesday there was tangible evidence that the Interconnect development was now proceeding. He said that ORDA personnel were busy this week cutting the Interconnect trail linking the two ski centers.
"You look at the mountain, and the trail is now emerging," he said.
Progress is also underway on the chairlift construction. New triple chairs have been delivered to Gore Mountain Ski Center, and are sitting on the premises, awaiting installation, he said.
"In a few weeks, we'll be seeing the new lift lines on the skyline," he said.
A New York State Comptroller's report cites estimates that 74,000 skiers will spend about $7.4 million annually in the communities surrounding Gore Mountain when the Interconnect is operational.
Goodspeed said the two related developments were welcome, and they had already spurred development of 25 new businesses in Johnsburg, primarily in North Creek. Two new restaurants in North Creek have opened since June, he said.
"The Interconnect has created a sense of optimism, that even though we may be in a very difficult downturn, there's a powerful engine to drive the local economy," he said.