A new life for Frontier Town in 2017?

Frontier Town, January 1, 2017. BlackBerry PRIV camera phone. Photo by Chuck Miller

Frontier Town, January 1, 2017. BlackBerry PRIV camera phone. Photo by Chuck Miller

You might have missed it when Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his recent “State of the State” addresses, but buried on page 102 of the adjoining “State of the State” budget report is a $32 million plan to revitalize what was once the Frontier Town amusement park into a new type of tourist attraction.

The plan would take the land on the Frontier Town campus and convert it into a “Gateway to the Adirondacks” tourist facility.  This would include a visitor’s center, a campground, an area for horseback riding, and a festival staging area.

The “Gateway to the Adirondacks” project also has the potential to revitalize tourism and recreation in the Adirondack towns of North Hudson, Newcomb and the surrounding communities.  Plus, with the recent State acquisition of the Boreas Ponds tract, a “Gateway to the Adirondacks” project would certainly boost job opportunities throughout the region.

I’m for this.  Yeah, we’ll never get Frontier Town back, and even if someone did try to revive the old amusement park, it wouldn’t be the same as it was in the past.  It just couldn’t be.  This “Gateway to the Adirondacks” concept makes so much more sense.

As a public service for those of you who don’t normally read Governor Cuomo’s budget reports, I’ve included pages 102-104 here in this blog.  They describe the “Gateway to the Adirondacks” project, its future and its goals.

Oh, and if you DO want to read all 383 pages of Governor Cuomo’s budget plan, here’s a link to keep you entertained over the weekend.

Proposal: Create Master Plan for “Gateway to the Adirondacks” at Northway Exit 29 in North Hudson

The Frontier Town theme park was built in the Adirondacks in 1952. For more than four decades, this entertainment destination was a boon to the local economy, drawing visitors from across the country to the town of North Hudson. But since 1998 when the theme park was closed, this site at Exit 29 of the Northway has sat dormant. As a result, local jobs, restaurants and lodging have all but disappeared from this once thriving Adirondack community.

In 2016, recognizing a critical need to invigorate the economies of these Adirondack communities, Governor Cuomo challenged the Open Space Institute and five neighboring Adirondack towns to collaborate with the State to design a blueprint for a new recreation hub at this location. In 2017, that challenge will be met and a new world class recreational experience will be realized through the establishment of state, local and private partnerships led by Governor Cuomo to invest up to $32 million to create the Gateway to the Adirondacks.  The new hub will include:

  • A DEC campground and day use area along the Schroon River;
  • An equestrian camping and trail riding area, similar to DEC equestrian camping and riding facilities at Otter Creek and Brookfield, which are drawing visitors from throughout the eastern United States;
  • A Visitor Information Center to introduce visitors to the world class recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Park;
  • An Event Center with tourist accommodations and facilities for hosting shows and festivals;
  • Interactive exhibits in historic structures highlighting the past, present, and future of the Adirondack forest products and local food industries; and
  • Areas designated for commercial business development including those which provide food, lodging and amenities for visitors and those which can grow at this strategic location along the Northway corridor.

As a first step, the Department of Environmental Conservation will acquire a conservation easement on approximately 300 acres of land with support from the Environmental Protection Fund. This will allow construction of the public and equestrian camping and day use areas. Paradox Brewery will also be investing $2.8 million to expand its operations at the site thanks in part to $200,000 in incentives from the Empire State Development Corporation.

Governor Cuomo’s goal is to promote and increase the economic vitality of the towns connected to this North Hudson location.  Transforming this site into an attractive destination will link local and regional resources and provide year round recreation opportunities and services for multiple uses, users and businesses.  The Gateway site will welcome, orient and connect visitors to trail networks, recreation destinations and businesses in the Adirondack Park.  Drawing visitors to North Hudson to connect with premier opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and boating. This, coupled with commercial business development, will revitalize communities and help transform this region.

Wow.

This will be big.  And much needed.

But even though all this is on the table… I just ask Governor Cuomo for one thing when his people work on this project.

Just save something from Frontier Town.  Revitalize the Main Street facade.  Restore the old chapel.  Something.  Just as a reminder of what Frontier Town used to be for generations of families who originally visited North Hudson and the Adirondacks for a day trip or for a weekend.

As much as it means to preserve New York’s beauty and majesty…

Let’s just save a small piece of New York’s history while we’re at it.

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