SARANAC LAKE - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to end his two-week vacation with a trip to the Adirondacks if an approaching hurricane doesn't keep him away, the New York Times reported today.
As part of a story about the governor's frequent visits to Saranac Lake, the newspaper says Cuomo has been vacationing with his girlfriend, Food Network host Sandra Lee, and his daughters in the Hamptons. He's reportedly scheduled to attend the New York State Fair in Syracuse today, followed by a fundraiser in Skaneateles. The Times says Cuomo will then be back in Albany to monitor the approach of Hurricane Irene, which is bearing down on the East Coast, before deciding whether he'll head north for the weekend.
Cuomo and his family are reportedly planning a whitewater rafting trip on the upper reaches of the Hudson River as part of their visit to the Adirondacks.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo pumps gas at Hyde Mobil in Saranac Lake in March.
(Enterprise file photo — Peter Crowley)
Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto told the Enterprise last week that the governor was planning a vacation in the Adirondacks this week, but he wasn't able to provide specifics at the time and said Cuomo's schedule could change. Vlasto and the rest of the governor's press staff haven't returned messages left this week.
If the governor makes it here, it would be his third trip to the Adirondacks this year. In March, Enterprise reporters got word that Cuomo was in the area, spotted his security officers on Broadway and followed him to the Hyde Mobil gas station on Lake Flower Avenue. He said he was spending the day in the area with his daughters, who went skiing at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington.
In late April, Cuomo was back in the area with Lee and his youngest daughter Michaela, 13. They shopped and dined at local restaurants during visits to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau ran into Cuomo standing on Main Street near the village dam on Lake Flower, and the two had a brief conversation - in part about the high water level that, five days later, would become one of the worst floods to ever hit this region.
Today's Times story is titled "In Mountain Village, Cuomo Finds Respite." Saranac Lake is described as a "picture-perfect Adirondack village" and a popular vacation spot for Cuomo and his family. Earlier this year, Lee had named it one of her two favorite vacation destinations, along with Capri, Italy, in an US magazine feature.
"Mr. Cuomo's visits to this region have shined a brightening spotlight on a quiet lakeside community that ranks among the state's lesser-known tourist attractions," the Times story reads. "Residents are eagerly awaiting the governor's next visit - though not too eagerly, they promise, lest they scare away their most famous visitor."
Times reporter Thomas Kaplan visited the area last week and interviewed Rabideau as well as the owners and employees of a number of local businesses. Blue Line Sports and Rice Furniture in Saranac Lake are mentioned in the story, along with Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood and Adirondack Decorative Arts and Crafts in Lake Placid. Kaplan also interviewed Cuomo about his frequent trips to the area.
"I've been all across the country; the Adirondacks are a national treasure," Cuomo told him. "It renews me. It just gets you in touch with nature and it's just one of the really special places on the planet - period."
Rabideau told the Enterprise this morning that the exposure the village will get from the Times story will be huge for the community.
"We all knew it was a great plus for Saranac Lake when we got the call from the New York Times reporter, because it doesn't get any bigger than that," he said. "Now we'll get nationwide and worldwide exposure. I'm very thankful not only to the New York Times, but to our governor and Sandra Lee."
Rabideau said he and Trustee Jeff Branch and took Kaplan and a Times photographer for a ride up the Saranac chain of lakes on Branch's pontoon boat last Thursday. After the boat ride, the mayor led them on a walk through downtown during the third Thursday Art Walk, making stops at several local businesses along the way.
Rabideau said he's pleased that Cuomo and his family have made Saranac Lake one of their favorite destinations, but he is worried that all the attention surrounding Cuomo's visits here could end up scaring the governor away.
"We are concerned about that," Rabideau said. "When the Times asked us, 'Where's the governor? Where's the governor?' We said, 'Even if we knew we wouldn't tell you, because we have to give him space.'"