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Winners, losers in VIC transition

(Editor's note: This is Part Five of a five-part series on the current status of the Visitor Interpretive Centers, which were operated by the Adirondack Park Agency from 1989 to 2010.)

RAY BROOK - When the state Adirondack Park Agency (APA) transferred ownership of its Visitor Interpretive Centers at Paul Smiths and Newcomb to two colleges on Jan. 1, not everyone escaped the transition unscathed. For the most part, however, many of the key players say there is a happy ending to this story.

During this five-part series, officials interviewed for these stories were asked one final question: "Who were the winners and losers of this transition?"

Answers were recorded from Paul Smith's College, which now owns and operates the Paul Smiths VIC; the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), which now owns and operates the Adirondack Interpretive Center (formerly known as the Newcomb VIC); the Adirondack Park Institute, the VIC friends group since 1989; the Adirondack Center for Writing, a new tenant at the Paul Smiths VIC; and the APA.

First the basics.

Government downsizing: Due to a multi-billion-dollar New York state budget deficit, the APA dissolved its Interpretive Programs Division and successfully transferred ownership of its Visitor Interpretive Centers to two colleges by Jan. 1, 2011. The move was expected to save the APA about $500,000 a year.

Staff: During the 11-month process, four jobs were cut at each facility. Two VIC employees transferred to the APA headquarters in Ray Brook (one of them "bumped" another employee out of his position). Since then, Paul Smith's College has hired a full-time maintenance person for the VIC, and SUNY-ESF will hire one full-time staffer (a two-year position) at the AIC. More seasonal jobs are expected to be created at each facility.

Facilities and programs: The trails remain open at both centers. The Newcomb building is still open to the public, and the Paul Smiths building is expected to be open to the public sometime this year. The API will continue to offer environmental education programs for schools and the public at each building.

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