QUEENSBURY Tourists traveling northbound on Interstate 87 and taking a break at the rest area between exits 17 and 18 are now likely to experience some friendly persuasion to visit Warren County.
The Lake George Chamber of Commerce took over operation of the rest stop’s Welcome Center as of May 17, and the facility is to be staffed with outgoing personnel well informed in area attractions, chamber President Michael Consuelo said this week.
“Our goal is not just to distribute literature, but to engage visitors in conversations,” he said.
The chamber took over the space from HaPeDe, an enterprise of Harry Demarest and Kathy Barrie, who operated the facility for about 15 years.
Consuelo said his chamber plans to extend the center’s hours and equip the center with comfortable and appealing furniture, updated fixtures and brighter lighting — so it will be a more welcoming stopoff on the Northway. Until the takeover, there was no where for visitors to sit in the center, he said.
Warren County Supervisors voted recently to appropriate $25,000 per year for two years towards the Welcome Center’s operation. After that time, the operation is to be reviewed for a possible renewal of a lease with New York State.
The I-87 Northway is a conduit for traffic to Vermont and Canada as well as the Adirondacks. Literature on such destinations is available at the center, which charges a fee to put brochures and leaflets in their facility’s racks.
Consuelo said that destinations in Warren County would be highlighted by center personnel.
He added that touch-screen digital displays of Warren County attractions might be installed in the coming months. The center is also to be upgraded with an Internet connection via satellite, with public wi-fi likely to be available, he said.
“We want the Welcome Center to serve as a gateway to the Adirondacks,” Consuelo said.