Press-Republican

April 13, 2013

Destination Master Plan progress touted

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — The latest Vision2Action community forum detailed progress in implementing the Adirondack Coast Destination Master Plan.

North Country Chamber of Commerce Board Chairwoman Vicki Demarse-Giroux of La Quinta Inn and Suites said the plan, which was unveiled in December 2010, focused on the region’s core strengths: outdoor recreation, agricultural tourism and history.

”I’m proud of how far we’ve come,” she said.

ALL-SEASON RECREATION

Kristy Kennedy, the chamber’s group and event specialist, said those who collaborated on the plan recognized outdoor recreation as an area where the region could see almost immediate progress.

“And we were right,” she said.

The region is really developing as a four-season recreation center, Kennedy said.

In winter, the area hosted sno-cross races, snowshoe races and a winter disc golf tournament. Titus Mountain was recognized for the lodge and trail improvements unveiled last year, and AuSable Chasm for development of cross-country skiing trails and winter chasm tours.

Cycling events such as the Velo Quebec Grand Tour continue to generate interest. The Saranac River Trail is developing and could eventually extend from downtown Plattsburgh to the Town of Saranac.

Water sports are growing, especially kayaking and paddle-boarding. New launches have been built in Rouses Point and Plattsburgh.

Fishing tournaments remain a big draw, with five scheduled for this summer.

Several new events are expected. The Biggest Loser Race/Walk is scheduled for June, and professional beach volleyball events are planned for 2014 and 2015.

The Lake Champlain Windsurfing Festival is scheduled for Sept. 28 and 29.

The American Windsurfing Tour event will include races, exhibitions and clinics. It is free and will include awards, prizes, raffles, music and a barbecue.

WINE AND FOOD

Miner Farm Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator Rachel Dutil outlined progress in promotion of agri-tourism.

Vineyards and wineries have really exploded in the area, she said.

The Adirondack Coast Wine Trail links seven wineries within a 33-mile stretch. Legislation is pending for state designation of that trail.

The local wineries are also part of the Champlain Valley International Wine Trail, comprising more than 30 wineries in New York, Vermont and Quebec.

The Adirondack Coast Wine, Cider and Food Festival returns for a second year in October.

The Visitors Bureau co-hosted a Chef to Table meeting with Cornell Cooperative Extension to bring together local producers and restaurants.

“We hope to get more local food on local menus,” Dutil said.

The Clinton County Farm Bureau held a Day on the Farm event at Rusty Creek Farm in Chazy. Dutil said another one is planned for this year, though the location hasn’t been decided.

PROMOTING HISTORY

City of Plattsburgh Historian John Krueger outlined the importance of the region’s history.

“The Destination Master Plan identifies history as one of our greatest assets, anchored by the Battle of Valcour and the Battle of Plattsburgh,” he said.

The boldest part of the plan calls for developing property near the City Beach into a history museum and visitors center, Krueger said. That would include a replica of the Spitfire ship on a man-made lagoon.

The Visitors Bureau has a representative on the state’s Path through History Committee. The state will make $100,000 grants available for 10 regional heritage tourism marketing plans.

The Visitors Bureau and Lake Champlain Basin Program are working on the War of 1812 Interpretive Trail, which connects 10 spots between Rouses Point and Plattsburgh. A new War of 1812 Bicentennial Map shows the march of the British from Canada to the Battle of Plattsburgh and marks significant locations along the route.

Six War of 1812 boot camps are planned.

Krueger said there are also other significant locations nearby.

“Our area is home to Pike’s Cantonment, the Valley Forge of the War of 1812.”

ADIRONDACK COAST

Visitors Bureau Director Michele Powers said efforts to spread the Adirondack Coast brand continue.

The bureau has joined 11 local partners to expand a cooperative television campaign to be aired in Montreal and Ottawa from June through September.

They are working with the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council to promote the fall foliage season, with ads to air in Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, the Hudson Valley and New York City.

The chamber continues to push front-desk training, so staff can direct visitors to the region’s many attractions. It also works with Clinton Community College to help staff at area service businesses learn French, Powers said.

“One of our goals in the Destination Master Plan is to be a bilingual destination.”

The Visitors Bureau Travel Guide has been expanded, and the website is again being revamped.

AMAZING

Powers said everyone should take time to check those out and learn more about their home region.

“I think sometimes we forget about what an amazing place we live in,” Powers said.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com