As much as I'd like to celebrate the plan from the Cuomo crew to pour as much as $32 million into development of a welcome center and campground and equestrian center and event center at Exit 29 — on and near the old Frontier Town campus — it strikes me as a boondoggle. Except for being located right off the Northway (not an attraction for campers looking for a wilderness experience), there is next to nothing at the site, or anywhere close to it.
Most people who are going camping want either a quiet spot that gives them the feeling of being out in the woods (the Adirondacks have plenty of camping areas that fit) or they want a place with lots of amenities, like Lake George RV Park, so they can have an entire experience there. Or, if the amenities aren't in the campground, they should at least be easily found close by — as in a campground near Lake George or Lake Placid, for example.
The North Hudson/Frontier Town site off Exit 29 is too close to the Northway to offer a wilderness feel, and it has no community nearby where campers could go for fun.
As for serving as an Adirondack gateway (that's how it's being promoted,) what will that entail? People handle research into their vacation communities on their home computers and their phones these days. For those who like old-fashioned brochures, the High Peaks rest stop between exits 29 and 30 already has those. It also has bathrooms and vending machines. That is all you need.
If you're on your way to the High Peaks region — Keene Valley, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake — you get off at Exit 30. You don't need to stop one exit before that to reconnoiter. At that point, you're probably excited and/or impatient to get where you're going.
Likewise, why are you going to camp at Exit 29 when you can go a little farther and be right in the midst of the High Peaks, next to the Olympic venues of Lake Placid or the lovely lakes of Saranac Lake?
This could end up as the tourism equivalent of some of the governor's overhyped economic development projects, like Startup NY, which never did start at all. I appreciate his interest in Upstate and in the Adirondacks in particular. But if you want to draw people to a spot in the woods with little to recommend it, you've got to offer more: real dinosaurs grown from DNA harvested from mosquitoes caught in amber, for example. That could work!