New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined his proposed state spending plan to a North Country audience Monday, highlighting what he says are the plan’s benefits for the upstate region and announcing plans to enhance tourism venues in the Adirondacks.
New York’s governor began outlining his budget a week and a half ago and is highlighting regional initiatives at venues across the state. In a stop Monday in Plattsburgh, he reiterated its emphasis on less spending, fewer taxes and more investment in upstate and the North Country. “This year our focus should be on the working men and women of New York. I want to cut taxes for the middle class. I want to reduce property taxes, do the first ever in the country college affordability plan for the middle class, create more jobs, reduce prescription drugs.”
Governor Cuomo then focused on targeted investments for the North Country. Noting that tourism is the major economic driver for the region, he is proposing reinvestments in the Whiteface and Gore ski resorts, whose facilities he called outdated. “The state will invest $5 million to extend and expand lodges, $3 million dollars to renovate the Adirondack Base Lodge, $4 million to install a lift, Whiteface $3.5 million to build one of the longest zip lines in the North America and $5 million to build the longest mountain coaster in the United States. Gore Mountain 2 million expand seating, 5 million to add a third storey, 1 million to restore the original gondola. If we make this investment then we want to partner with private sector management companies. We think we can leverage $80 million and remake these facilities.”
Cuomo told business and community leaders that another key investment in the North Country will be the creation of a Gateway to the Adirondacks at the former Frontier Town in North Hudson. “$32 million to redevelop the existing property as a multi-use facility: camping, access to Schroon Lake, dining, lodging, hiking, preserve the history of Frontier Town, but really build a new gateway facility to the Adirondacks.”
Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President Jim McKenna says the improvements the governor envisions will help make Whiteface a year-round resort. “That's going to not only help the general economy of Wilmington and hopefully drive some lodging investment but it will help the bottom line of ORDA which is needed. So it rounds out the year round activities for those venues. And I think that was a remarkable and a visionary type of movement and it's really needed right now there. So that's excellent. And then the other major one is Frontier Town. What's been on the drawing board from the governor's office and DEC and the five towns is going to transform that area as well. So I think that those two projects that he identified, one in North Hudson and one in Wilmington, is going to change the dynamic of those communities.”
The governor briefly discussed $38 million in new state investment in the Plattsburgh International Airport. Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman says that is one of a number of items in the plan that excites him. “The Plattsburgh International Airport’s investment really is going to continue to allow businesses to cross-pollinate, to find opportunities to get those products well beyond you know our borders of the North Country. But I'm also excited about something that maybe some people overlooked and that's I think approximately $2 billion in water infrastructure. We want to make sure that we have good pipes, we have good water, so that it's about the economic development the economic sustainability of the businesses that are here and the health and safety. So that's something that I actually gleaned onto beyond the traditional infrastructure of the airport etcetera.”
According to the Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce, the state has invested more than $275 million in economic development projects in the greater Plattsburgh area in the past nine months.