Press-Republican

Local News

September 23, 2012

Whiteface facilities in bad shape

Roadwork, drainage, other repairs will total $7 million

WILMINGTON — The long, winding road to the top of Whiteface Mountain was last paved in 1963, nearly 50 years ago.

The elevator that lifts visitors 26 stories to the summit needs restoration estimated at $1 million or more.

A group of state and local officials met at the castle on top Friday to discuss cost and logistics.

Aaron Kellet, newly named general manager at Whiteface, presented a history and facts about the road, the tourism operation and costs associated with mandatory repairs.

“We have a lot of new visitors every year,” he said. “If they have one complaint, it is the condition of the road.”

$7 MILLION TOTAL

An estimate — two years ago — put road repair and drainage reinforcement at $4.5 million.

That doesn’t include the $1 million or so for the elevator. And there is lead paint inside the elevator shaft, beyond the lift enclosure.

Water lines, masonry work and toll-house repairs are estimated at nearly a half million dollars more.

The total figure comes close to $7 million for the 5-mile Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway and its tourist facility. 

MAKING STRATEGY

The road leads to steps that rise to a scientific-station complex housing a critical weather collection and public-safety radio equipment.

The entire facility is managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, a state organization that avowedly is not geared up for paving and road repair.

Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas called officials together for Friday’s visit from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Department of Transportation, the Adirondack Park Agency and the Governor’s Office to formulate long-term stewardship and financing strategy.

They are looking to Albany for priority funding status.

The Whiteface Memorial Highway is already counted as a top priority by the North Country Regional Economic Council, which is in contention for millions in state money for projects such as this.

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