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NY funds to boost First Wilderness Heritage Corridor projects

Saratoga-North Creek Railway at the North Creek train station

Saratoga-North Creek Railway at the North Creek train station Photo by Andy Flynn.

— The First Wilderness Heritage Corridor Action Plan is a revitalization plan under the aegis of the New York State Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. It includes the Warren County towns of Johnsburg, Thurman, Stony Creek, Warrensburg, and Lake Luzerne and the Saratoga County towns of Hadley and Corinth.

When it’s fully implemented, LaMothe said the goal is to extend the corridor another 30 miles north of North Creek to the Tahawus mine in the Essex County town of Newcomb.

Two-pronged approach

There are currently two aspects of implementing the First Wilderness experience. First Warren County planners have to answer the question, “What can people do when they come here?”

“Those activities are more community driven — events, skiing, recreational opportunities, business opportunities, etc.,” LaMothe said.

Then there is the physical side — the infrastructure — such as improving streetscapes, upgrading or building train stations, etc.

LaMothe approaches the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor project with one goal in mind: enhancing the economic opportunities by creating a corridorwide tourism experience.

“When it all comes down to it, it’s an economic development activity,” LaMothe said. “There’s no other reason for it. It is to enhance what the community has A) for itself and B) for the tourists that come here. Hopefully it’s a quality experience for somebody and through word of mouth and promotions, other people will come here.”

Infrastructure

Before promoting the corridor, the region must give travelers good reasons to get off the train in communities along the way.

“That’s why we’re looking at building the infrastructure — the better sidewalks, the better signage, hiking trails, the things the public sector can do that makes a community more inviting,” LaMothe said. “But it’s really the business community that needs to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented both by the investment in public infrastructure and the investment by the rail company into their operations.”

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