College hopes VIC will fund itself, recoup lost jobs

A local college hopes that the visitor interpretive center it took over earlier this year will be able to fund its own operation.

Last year, the visitor interpretive centers in Paul Smiths and Newcomb were shutdown due to New York's ongoing fiscal crisis.

The VICs were formerly run by the state Adirondack Park Agency, but not considered part of the agency's core mission.

The Newcomb VIC has since been taken over by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and at the beginning of this year, Paul Smith's College took over the facilities just a few miles down the road from campus in Franklin County.

While under the auspices of the APA, the state leased the land surrounding the central building from the college. Now, the property and its facilities are controlled by Paul Smith's.

And although that prevents the buildings from falling into disrepair, college officials say they'd rather not continue pumping money into the buildings.

Ken Aaron is director of communications at Paul Smith's College. He says the college spent about $10,000 on a new groomer and may need to spend an additional $25,000 this summer to replace the roof of the VIC's main building.

"We've had the VIC in our possession since the beginning of January," Aaron said.

"At this point, the trails are all open and we're grooming the trails," he added. "We've invested in a trail grooming machine, which our own Jack Burke has been using on a fairly regular basis, putting down fresh corduroy. I know our visitors have been enjoying it."

Aaron says opening the building has been a slow process, but he adds that several local organizations are planning to use the facilities soon.

He also notes that although the VIC isn't operating as it did in the past, it is serving as a useful resource for the college.

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