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March 10, 2014

Adirondack Challenge spreads positive regional image

Cuomo event teaches downstate lawmakers about North Country

LAKE PLACID — State lawmakers took a few new steps in different shoes Sunday.

Some wore boots, others ice skates, but they all said they gained a fresh perspective.

At the Adirondack Winter Challenge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent his day snowmobiling in the Adirondack Park, while downstate members of the state Assembly and Senate got a glimpse of this region’s grandeur, both on the ice and in the mountain views.

Local leaders, too, spent hours trying new skills at Olympic sport venues in Lake Placid.

Cuomo’s snowmobile trip ventured out along trails on the Kushaqua Tract in the Town of Franklin. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens traveled with the governor, along with Hamilton County Board Chairman Bill Farber and Essex County Board Chairman Randy Douglas.

“Conditions were perfect, the snow was perfect,” Martens said of their afternoon ride.

The group of about 30 sleds traveled about 30 miles, Farber said.

The governor’s choice of winter sport had no underlying message, Farber said, given the often contentious view of motorized use inside the Blue-lined Adirondack Park borders.

“We love recreation in the Adirondacks,” Farber said. “All types of recreation — and we need diverse recreation to support tourism here.”

Beyond its purpose of drawing attention to this region, the Adirondack Challenge gave some a chance to see New York’s Olympic investments first-hand. Lawmakers annually decide what to allocate to the Olympic Regional Development Authority, which maintains the Olympic Center, the Conference Center, Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort, the ski jumps and the Mount Van Hoevenberg bobsled track and cross-country ski center.

Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright (D-Harlem) drove north with his family and tried out the bobsled run.

“It was fabulous. What’s not to like?” Wright said of his day. “It is very important that we came up here. The items we vote on can sometimes be in the abstract,” he allowed of the city’s view of distant investments in the North Country.

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