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H’town could drop ROOST

Supervisor: ‘I don’t think we’re getting any benefit’

SARANAC LAKE — Members of the Harrietstown Town Council are considering ending the town’s relationship with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

“I don’t think we’re getting any benefit from ROOST,” Supervisor Mike Kilroy said in a phone interview Friday.

“Even though they constantly tell us they’re not, I think (ROOST) really does focus a lot on Lake Placid,” town Councilwoman Tracey Schrader said.

ROOST CEO Jim McKenna said he hopes he can sit down with the town council soon and maintain their relationship.

ROOST is the primary tourism marketing agency in the Adirondacks. It has contracts with municipalities such as Essex County, Lake Placid, North Elba and Hamilton County. Up until last month, ROOST also did work for Franklin County. In December 2019, the county decided to work with the Franklin County Local Development Corporation instead of renewing with ROOST.

For the past few years, the town has paid ROOST $12,500 a year for marketing efforts. Neither Kilroy, Schrader nor McKenna knew exactly when the town started contracting with ROOST. They all said it was more than five years ago. For the first few years, the contracts were for $20,000.

McKenna said many marketable assets of Harrietstown fall within the village of Saranac Lake, with which ROOST also has a contract.

“Harrietstown is like North Elba,” he said in a phone interview Sunday. “We have pretty significant contracts with them and Lake Placid. We don’t market the town of North Elba per se. It falls into the overall plan for Lake Placid.”

McKenna said the main assets ROOST promotes in Harrietstown are the Dewey Mountain Recreation Center for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear. Cape Air is the only commercial airline at the airport, and it makes three trips a day between here and Boston. ROOST is also one of the main sponsors for the yearly Music on the Green concert series at Berkeley Green.

In a phone interview Friday, Schrader said there is a lack of communication on ROOST’s end, and the council doesn’t know how the town’s money is being spent. She used to have regular meetings with ROOST representatives, but those have since tapered off, she said. She and town Councilwoman Jordanna Mallach met with ROOST Chief of Staff Mary Jane Lawrence in the fall of 2018, but didn’t receive the information they were looking for, Schrader said.

“We met to discuss a budget so we can actually see how their organization is run,” she said. “We received a one-page, very basic outline of roundabout numbers. It was not a legitimate budget. We really wanted to know what ROOST is providing the town, especially since the village has a separate contract. We have legitimate questions when they were requesting $12,500. What are they doing besides Facebook post, some blogs and that kind of thing?”

McKenna said ROOST is open on its budgets and he’ll provide further information if the town would like it.

Schrader said the town has been pushing ROOST for tourism information kiosks at the airport, but they’ve never come to fruition. McKenna said kiosk for the airport and Dewey Mountain are in ROOST’s 2020 budget for Harrietstown.

Schrader said she’d also like to see more promotion done for Lake Clear and the St. Regis Canoe Area, which is mostly in the town of Santa Clara but also has pieces in Harrietstown and Brighton.

“There are miles and miles of waterways we can be tapping into as far as promoting responsibly,” she said.

Both Kilroy and Schrader said they’d rather put more money toward the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce rather than renewing with ROOST.

“We’ve touched base with the chamber to see if we can get the sum of Winter Carnival videotaped and broadcasted,” Kilroy said. “We’ve had some older people call asking about if Coronation and the parade are going to be on TV because they used to be. I’d rather put the $12,500 toward that, in my own opinion.”

No decision has been made yet on whether the town will continue to work with ROOST, but Kilroy said he doesn’t expect that relationship to continue.

“They haven’t submitted a request (yet this year), and when they do, my feeling is they won’t get what they ask for,” he said.

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