ORDA board member questions hiker showers

From left, state Olympic Regional Development Board board member Arthur Lussi, board Chairman Pat Barrett and CEO Michael Pratt are seen at an authority board meeting in May. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

LAKE PLACID — Amenities to accommodate hikers are included in the preliminary designs for the new base lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

The base lodge, set to be built beside a new trailhead leading to Cascade and Porter mountains at the bottom of the bobsled-luge-skeleton track, is slated to include public showers, food and other amenities for hikers passing through.

“The objective is to offer a great experience for hikers that may include restroom facilities, a gift shop and light food,” said state Olympic Regional Development Authority Vice President of Marketing Scott Christiansen. ORDA manages state winter sports venues, including at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

“Having this facility open to hikers is very important,” he said.

Hiking in the High Peaks area has become increasingly popular in the last few years. A report by the Adirondack Council showing the results of a 2017 survey show that at peak times on fall weekends, roughly 240 cars are parked at the Cascade trailhead, though the parking area on state Route 73 had a capacity for 73 cars.

Ron Konowitz, a volunteer with the Adirondack 46ers, shows people a map of the rerouted Cascade Mountain trail in fall 2017 at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, where the state plans to permanently move the trailhead. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

The ORDA board was mostly united in its support for the projects at Mount Van Hoevenberg at its meeting Wednesday, but not every member was 100 percent sold on all the proposed amenities.

Arthur Lussi, a member of the ORDA board, said that although he’s in favor of having amenities for hikers at the lodge, he has concerns about offering a public area for hikers to shower. Such an amenity would require a certain amount of staff to actively maintain it, according to Lussi.

“I just know being in a resort area and having difficulties with finding staff,” he said.

Lussi suggested that a cost-benefit analysis be drafted in the future to ensure that these details are cost-effective and manageable, a suggestion many of the other board members agreed with.

These amenities at the new base lodge are a small portion of a larger $40-50 million state-funded project at Mount Van Hoevenberg, which includes the construction of a new cross-country ski stadium, two “mountain coasters,” the addition of more cross-country ski trails, updated trailheads and more. All of the updates are expected to be completed by the 2023 Winter World University Games, or the Winter Universiade. That event is expected to draw upward of 2,500 student-athletes and delegates to the area.

Hundreds of cars line the sides of state Route 73 near the Cascade Mountain trailhead outside Lake Placid during Labor Day weekend 2016. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Pictured is a preliminary design for a cafe area at the base lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg. (Provided image — Olympic Regional Development Authority)

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