Gore Mountain officials hear public comments

NORTH CREEK - More than 75 people braved an ice storm on Tuesday night to hear public comments on the proposed Gore Mountain to Ski Bowl Park interconnect project, while voicing some opinions of their own. Following the recent release of a draft environmental impact study, a series of public meetings are scheduled to allow individuals an opportunity to go on the record with their thoughts and concerns related to the project. The draft statement deals with the complex relationship between the existing Gore Mountain Ski Center, the rapidly developing Ski Bowl interconnect project, and the proposed Front Street "Ski Bowl Village" development. The connection between Gore Mountain, and the "Little Gore" ski area, is widely considered crucial for the continued success of the mountain, and the economic vitality of North Creek. "What we're talking about tonight is bringing the mountain to the village," Johnsburg Supervisor, Sterling Goodspeed, said. Citing the numerous economic benefits Goodspeed envisioned as stemming from the project, he also noted the project's consistency with North Creek's heritage, in particular the development of the mountain during the ski-train era. "We have an opportunity to inter-mix something that is an economic positive with something that is an environmental experience; and its something that is done within the confines of an historical attribute." Goodspeed also read a letter of support from Sen. Betty Little, that detailed her personal commitment to the expansion initiative. While comments were generally supportive of the project, many speakers felt the need for specific components of the issue to be examined more closely. Chief among the concerns, were the lack of specifics regarding future job opportunities for area residents, temporary and permanent housing restrictions, and the overall economic impact to the town. Another notable concern was the speed in which the impact statements were being released, and the limited amount of time citizens had to study and comment on them. "These are incredibly complicated issues we are discussing here," Dan Plumley, of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, noted. "I strongly urge those involved to consider extending the public comment period so everyone can have a chance to review it." Despite the positive public outlook, a small number of speakers asked for other factors to be considered in the plan. "Everybody thinks growth and development are the same thing," Johnsburg resident, Jim Hogan, said. "But they're not. You can grow the town, put more buildings up, cut more trails, and that's great because it will bring more people here. "But the other end of it is if you build more houses, then sure, they will go into town and visit the businesses there," Hogan concluded. "In the bigger picture, we're kind of missing some things." Hogan discussed plans to maintain trails on the lower portions of the mountain, and expressed concern for the economic and environmental factors behind issues like increased energy consumption, and a proliferation of seasonal homes that require heat and electricity year-round. A second public hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek. Sponsored by the Adirondack Park Agency, the hearing will concern Ski Bowl Village, a $200-million resort, and residential complex proposed for development on private lands adjacent to the existing Ski Bowl Park.

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