Press-Republican

October 31, 2013

Hamilton County woos ROOST

LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

ELIZABETHTOWN — The vacuum created by the departure of Hamilton County Tourism Director Ann Melious could be filled by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

Essex County lawmakers tentatively agreed Monday to support a possible takeover of Hamilton County tourism marketing by the Lake Placid-based group, commonly called ROOST.

ROOST already receives more than $1 million annually from the Essex County occupancy tax, which it uses to advertise Essex County to visitors.

ROOST President and Chief Executive Officer James McKenna sought the approval of the Essex County Board of Supervisors before proceeding further with a bid to do the same for nearby Hamilton County.

McKenna said the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors issued a request for proposals for tourism promotion with an annual budget of $250,000. Hamilton County does not have an occupancy tax.

“It would be a good thing to respond to,” he said. “My board wanted to get a good response from (Essex County) before looking at it.”

‘A NATURAL’

He said they already work with some towns in Hamilton County on promotions.

“For some of our towns bordering Hamilton County, it would be a natural,” he said. “There seems to be more movement that tourism doesn’t recognize county boundaries.”

McKenna said some questions have come up as to whether ROOST has the capacity to add Hamilton County, and he estimates they would have to hire one or two more people to do so.  

That staff would be at ROOST’s Lake Placid offices, he said, not at the Hamilton County Government Center in Lake Pleasant, where Melious was based.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors Ways and Means committee voted unanimously this week to support a proposal from ROOST for Hamilton County’s advertising and promotion.

Six of 18 supervisors were absent from the meeting. Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) and Supervisors Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), David Blades (R-Lewis), Margaret Bartley (D-Elizabethtown), William Ferebee (R-Keene) and Sue Montgomery Corey (D-Minerva) were attending a meeting in Albany.

NO ESSEX COUNTY COST

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah), who was chairing the Ways and Means session, said he fully supports the concept of ROOST doing the marketing for Hamilton County.

“I think it’s a move in the right direction. We should take a regional approach.”

McKenna said he agrees.

“Some of the messages we put up now would be the same message everywhere,” he said. “It would really add more, rather than detract.”

The addition of Hamilton County would be at no cost to Essex County, Scozzafava said.

“The feeling is that what’s good for Hamilton County is good for Essex County. It would be more continuity.”

This autumn season has been good for tourism in general in the Adirondacks, McKenna said.

“The weather’s been positive this fall. People are traveling more.”

The measure gets a final vote at Essex County’s Nov. 4 regular session.

Essex and Hamilton are the only two counties wholly within the Adirondack Park.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com