Interconnect project takes historic step forward

NORTH CREEK The project has been described as a return to the roots of skiing in the Adirondacks. Others refer to it as an economic dream come true for North Creek and the region. No matter what words are used, the Gore Mountain interconnect project represents one of the most vital steps toward the future of Adirondack skiing. On Oct. 10, the Adirondack Park Agency approved ORDAs final proposal for the interconnect project. The approval also cleared the way for the DEC to issue a final ruling on the project which Town of Johnsburg officials expect to receive this week. According to an APA statement: The Agency determined that the portion of the 2005 UMP/ Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement related to the interconnection between the Gore Mountain Ski Center and the Historic North Creek Ski Bowl, which was rescinded in August of 2006, is consistent with the guidelines and criteria of the SLMP. The statement further clarified the projects intent and specifically noted the historical context for their final approval. The primary objectives of the approved amendment are to improve public access to Gore Mountain and Forest Preserve lands, to improve the skiing experience and to provide for a stronger interconnect between Gore Mountain Ski Center, the Historic North Creek Ski Bowl and the hamlet of North Creek. The 2005 amendment included construction of new ski trails and lifts in the Intensive Use Area that connects with the Town of Johnsburgs Ski Bowl Park. The APA approval follows closely behind an ORDA resolution to fund the Gore Mountain to North Creek Ski Bowl Interconnect project. A completed interconnect would firmly place Gore Mountain as one of the seven largest ski areas east of the Mississippi River. The capital appropriation resolution authorizes the President of ORDA to award over $3.2 million in development contracts. A total of $1.8 million will be directed toward infrastructure acquisitions such as a new ski lift and snowmaking equipment. An additional $1.4 million will be used to make necessary repairs and improvements to the existing Gore Mountain base lodge, including HVAC, roofing, and restroom renovations. The renovations will be geared toward correcting current maintenance issues at the lodge and to prepare the facility for a dramatically increased number of visitors following the interconnects completion. An additional $2.2 million will be held in reserve to facilitate trail construction and for the installation of the interconnect ski lift over the next few years. The new lift is expected to be partially operational in time for the 2009/2010 ski season an will be open as the weather permits in the absence of snow making equipment. The 2010/2011 season is anticipated to be the lifts first full year, including snowmaking, and full ride-up and ski-down lift service. The significance of this project is really ORDAs commitment to purchase this lift, and marks an agreement between all the people involved, and the grant money provided through Senator Betty Littles office, Town of Johnsburg Supervisor, Sterling Goodspeed, says. This signifies the actual occurrence of the interconnect. When that lift is ordered and installed, it will replace the 1940s cable t-bar that runs to the summit of Little Gore. When that happens, it will be possible to ski back and forth between the ski bowl and Gore proper. The potential economic impact of exposing thousands of visitors to the North Creek business district is huge and it creates the potential to move all of the skiers from Gore Mountain to the edge of the North Creek business district. Under the current plan, the interconnect would also make it possible to ski on Gore Mountain via lift service origination at the Little Gore (Ski Bowl Park) area. The town and ORDA officials are also working on a preliminary plan to provide shuttle service between Gore Mountain, the Little Gore area, and downtown North Creek. I believe this project will be the economic engine for the entire region in the winter months, Goodspeed adds. This project means jobs, more businesses in the town, and growth that is largely green. The best part about this is the fact that its largely based on our history. The trails that we are talking about opening are really just a reclaiming of the trails that were originally open in the 1930s and 1940s. According to a conceptual agreement between ORDA, the Front Street Development project, and the Town of Johnsburg - the Town of Johnsburg will retain full ownership of the lift-line trails. North Creek is a real American ski town at its finest, Goodspeed concluded. With everything in place - we will be host to the seventh largest ski area east of the Mississippi River. Gore Mountains Manager, Mike Pratt, is similarly optimistic about the project. While he understands the direct benefit to ORDAs efforts in New York State, hes also quick to identify the positive impact it will have on North Creek in the coming years. With everything in place next year we expect to be able to open the interconnect when the conditions are right, Pratt, says. From the saddle on Gore, skiers will wind up at the top of the Village Slope triple chair on Little Gore. He anticipates installing a lift similar to the Village Triple currently in use at the Little Gore slope. In vertical drop we are currently ranked as number eight east of the Mississippi River, Pratt adds. When we have everything opened up to Little Gore, our ranking will move up to number six. Its a great facility with tremendous natural resources, especially with the terrain and the Hudson River, Pratt adds. And we have a lot of wonderful people making it work. Acknowledging the tough economic conditions faced by the country, he stands firm behind a belief that the interconnect means much more to the region than a regional ranking. Weve had a tremendous growth curve since 1995. Even now when you look down Main Street, its truly developing into a renaissance. Its wonderful and were going to ride this momentum through this season and into the next few years, he said. There seems to be a lot of excitement about Gore Mountain and about the Adirondacks. In spite some of some of the bad things that are happening economically - I think were in a very good position for the future.

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