Around 40 years ago, New York State had a proposition for the town of Johnsburg. "Let us build a bypass around North Creek and we will swap you a garage for the town highway department."
The state's reasoning for wanting the bypass is pretty clear. It would expedite the movement of goods and people through the Rte. 28 corridor.
But what are the consequences for Johnsburg, and especially for North Creek?
Four decades past, the implications are easily observable.
On the positive side, North Creek's Main Street is fairly uncongested. Big rigs don't roar through town like they do in other area communities. The bypass has certainly facilitated peace and quiet.
But on the flip side the lack of traffic also translates to a reduction in commerce. While working on a story on the issue, I talked with several tourists who said they didn't even know North Creek existed. Others said it was almost impossible to find.
They had driven right by, unsuccessfully looking for the community for one reason or another. Several had driven all the way to Indian Lake before stopping for directions.
The concept of a bypass is often foreign to Northeastern tourists. As they make their way through the Adirondacks, they pass through town after town - stopping at red lights and passing hundreds of businesses. Why should they expect anything different in Johnsburg?
In many ways the bypass concept - the business loop - is a Midwestern model that doesn't translate well to the downstate demographic which we typically market to.
I think it's fair to assume that the Rte. 28 bypass has cost North Creek businesses and residents millions in lost revenue.
The Ski Bowl Interconnect received funding last month, and this is seen by some as the potential fix to the bypass issue.
The argument states that people will be so close to the business district, that they will basically be herded toward the local business center.
I am not sure I buy it.
Although if successful, the interconnect would bring more people to the fringes of downtown, it still doesn't address the primary issue.
Rte. 28 is the barrier and people have to get across to spend their cash.
I have heard rumblings about a future gondola, which would bring people to Main Street. But what is the actual likelihood of such a thing happening in my lifetime?
So how do we get people across the road? That is the question.
The presence of the Frontstreet development will give tourists the opportunity to eat, sleep and party right next to the ski bowl. And this is certainly not going to help with the efforts to bring more traffic to Main Street.
I asked Supervisor Goodspeed about this issue once, and he said that a shuttle bus is being discussed. However, the funding stream for such a thing is still up in the air.
Would taxpayers shoulder the expense? Business owners? The chamber? The alliance?
How about a foot-bridge? Would the APA allow such a thing?
I think it is fair to say that the bypass has put the North Creek business owner at a huge disadvantage as people speed by, never noticing the small signs proclaiming the hamlet's existence.
If the interconnect is to reinvent downtown, then there must be a focus on some mechanisms that will direct people to Main Street. Otherwise, it may just be a boom for a few developers - at least in the winter.
It seems that one of the most pressing issues for our local officials is dealing with the bypass in a year-round context.
We can market North Creek as a destination all we want, but without making it visible, I fear it may be all for naught.
Jonathan Alexander is News Enterprise editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org