Adirondacks of Hamilton County

Books, opinion and photos by Peter Klein


Divided North Country

Posted by peteklein on March 5, 2015 at 9:30 AM

Intercounty Feb 26 2015



SPECULATOR—Usually when the Intercounty Legislative Committee of the North Country meets, there is unanimity of goals. But this was not the case when the committee met at the Oak Mountain Ski Center on Thursday, Feb. 26.

The split surfaced when Herkimer County put forth a resolution urging the governor to restructure his plan for the Upstate Revitalization Account grant program, better known as the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process, by eliminating the competitive aspect and replacing it by simply dividing the $1.5 billion in the account according to population in the counties.

Under the governor’s plan, the Mid-Hudson, Capital, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, North Country and Southern Tier regions would compete for one of three $500 million upstate revitalization grants.

William Farber, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, was quick to object to the idea, stating, “The resolution will split the group, due to Intercounty being in three different Regional Economic Development areas (North Country, Mohawk Valley and Capital Region).

Farber warned, “You won’t get a sack of money to do with what you want,” and suggested the supervisors should contact and work with their six different legislators in the state senate and assembly.

After some debate, a roll call vote was taken with Fulton, Herkimer and Lewis counties voting Yea while Hamilton, Washington, Essex, Saratoga and Warren counties voted Nay.

With Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties absent, the resolution failed by a vote of 5 Nays to 3 Yeas.


Bill Osborne, Hamilton County Economic Development Director, gave a brief history of the Oak Mt Ski Center.

Osborne said the ski center was built in 1948 by the Town of Lake Pleasant as a way to increase winter tourism. Osborne said, “As many as 15 buses would bring skiers up from New York City and New Jersey, who would stay at the hotels.”

In 1967, Tom and Milly Novosel bought the resort from the town. They had a daughter named Nancy, who later married Norm Germain. In 1978, that couple bought the resort from Nancy's parents.

Fast forward to 2000/2001 and the T-bar was replaced by a quad lift and snowmaking was added. But after several years of mild winters, the Hamilton County Industrial Development Agency foreclosed on the property, which was kept in operation by the Village of Speculator until it was purchase by Matt and Laura O’Brien in 2012.

Matt said they are doing well but did mention how even a colder than average winter can create problems just as a mild winter can do.

Matt said ticket sales were down during the President’s Week holiday because the below zero cold kept many skiers at home.

On a positive note, Matt said he and his wife are making plans to build a 30 room lodging with a swimming pool and are already benefiting by hosting weddings.

Matt said, “We are living the dream and enjoying it.”


Brian Houseal, director of the Adirondack Ecological Center at SUNY ESF, Newcomb, did a short presentation on the Great South Woods (GSW) and the community based Trails and Lodging plan.

Houseal said that in the past, planning was confined to the Unit Management Plans drafted by the Adirondack Park Agency and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Houseal said, “The GSW project is an attempt to look at the larger, regional picture to foster tourism and economic development.”

Houseal said DEC sponsored the Great South Woods (GSW) initiative with the goal of creating a destination-based system of trails and recreation assets to stimulate economic activity while protecting the region's unparalleled natural resources and wild character. ESF will facilitate the participatory process to engage local knowledge about how best to connect recreation destinations and communities through recreation infrastructure.

The project will develop a new strategic vision for recreation infrastructure across the vast GSW region, where nearly two of every three acres is State land, and where a diversity of natural settings remain an untapped resource for local communities and tourism-oriented businesses. The new initiative will generate a digital map-based inventory of existing and potential land and water trails and associated recreation infrastructure, as well as lodging facilities and other amenities currently available or needed to support recreational visitors. The process will draw on the knowledge, ideas and priorities of local residents and visitors, as well as guides, outfitters, recreationists, business owners and other stakeholders across the southern region of the Park. Digital and online mapping tools will help to gather and analyze this information, in order to generate new ideas and options for regional recreation planning.


Photo caption


Photo by Pete Klein


Photo 1887 or 1888



Brian Houseal, director of the Adirondack Ecological Center at SUNY ESF, Newcomb, did a short presentation on the Great South Woods (GSW) project at meeting of the Intercounty Legislative Committee when it met at the Oak Mt. Ski Center on Feb. 26.


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