Thursday was the grand opening of the new rest area on the northbound side of the Northway in Queensbury, and one particular mention in our coverage of it yesterday piqued my interest.
There was said to be an Adirondacks "walk of fame" at the entrance, and the only mention in our coverage was that actor Kevin Bacon was among those honored.
Now I liked Kevin Bacon's movies as much as anyone in the 1980s and 1990s, but when I think of him, I don't think of our lovely region of the country.
Apparently Bacon's family has a long history of vacationing and owning property in the Old Forge area, but does anyone outside that little corner of the park consider him among the Adirondack region's most famous denizens and historical figures?
The whole "walk of fame" thing at a rest area struck me as a waste of our taxpayer money, so I decided to swing in there last night on the way back from a jaunt to Wilton to see what the project amounted to.
As local residents, most of us never stop at that rest area, since we are pretty much home when we are on the Northway in Queensbury. But having watched the construction as I drove by the last few months, the finished product intrigued me.
I was all ready to fire up a scathing blog post, lambasting the state for wasting money. But while the building and fixtures are opulent in spots, it really doesn't seem overdone, and it has some nice features.
The vending machines with local products (Martha's and Battenkill Creamery ice cream, Oscar's Smokehouse cheese, Barkeater Chocolates, a full list is attached as a pdf to this post) are a nice touch, as is the playground and big maps of the Adirondack Park. It could use some kiosks for fliers and tourism information, and maybe those are coming.
But what about the walk of fame?
Well, it consists of 21 metal plates inset in the sidewalk outside the entrance to the building. Such Adirondack luminaries and historical figures as Seneca Ray Stoddard, Georgia O'Keeffe, Johnny Podres, Marcella Sembrich and Jack Shea are included, and Bacon doesn't really seem to fit with this group.
In all honesty, if Bacon is included, why not Rachael Ray? She grew up here, is arguably a bigger entertainment figure than Bacon at this point, and has given a lot back to her community. She seems more deserving to me.
All in all, even with an odd actor choice for the "walk of fame," the project (initially estimated to cost $2 million) seems like a nice addition to the region, similar to themed rest areas I have seen in other states, such as those on I-93 in New Hampshire.
-- Don Lehman