Preston seeks funding for Whiteface Veteran’s Highway repair

— Town Supervisor Randy Preston believes the time for action is now on the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway.

Preston is seeking state funding to improve the condition of the roadway, which allows travelers access to the top of the fifth-highest peak in New York state.

The Wilmington supervisor presented his funding request to members of the Essex County Ways and Means Committee Monday, Sept. 30, explaining the highway was designated as a priority project for the second year by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“We would ask that funding to repair this historical treasure be included in the state budget for the year 2014,” Preston said. “The highway and the surrounding infrastructure are in a state of serious disrepair and needs significant funding to restore it to a safe level of use for all to enjoy.”

Preston said the amount of tourists who use the access to Whiteface each year makes it a critical part of the local economy.

“With over 70,000 people visiting each year, should this highway have to close due to failure, this would inflict serious economic harm to the region,” Preston said. “The highway is dedicated to our veterans and is the only handicapped accessible high peak in New York state. The road is owned by the state and has not seen major repairs in over 50 years. The state needs to come forward and preserve this state and national treasure for all to enjoy for years to come.”

Members of the committee passed a resolution in support of the state funding, while board chairman and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said he has spoken to Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the situation.

“In the meeting with Gov. Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens last week, we did bring that issue up and explained to them about the state that it is in and how desperately it is in need of repairs,” Douglas said. “Hopefully they can move forward with this and see how important it is. We will keep talking with the governor’s office and maybe even invite him up to take a ride on it to see for himself.”

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