ADK’s new space will open to the public next month, in a limited capacity for now
By Mike Lynch
Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) purchased Cascade Ski Center, a Nordic facility with a 200-acre property on Route 73 outside Lake Placid, for $2.5 million in January. With the purchase finalized and transfer of property nearly complete, ADK officials are working on the next phase: planning the future of the property.
As part of that process, ADK staff has been hosting meetings with members of the public and key stakeholders via Zoom.
In a session held April 5 that was attended by 18 people, including some ADK staff, executive director Michael Barrett outlined some of the priorities for the upcoming years and listened to recommendations from participants.
Barrett said ADK plans to continue ski rental and retail operations in the winter and to use the building year-round for outdoor education, visitor services, and housing.
“There seems to be tremendous potential to use it throughout the year,” Barrett said.
With the Jubin family, Cascade’s former owners, done with its final winter running the ski center, ADK will take over the property on April 15. The organization plans to open to the public on May 20, right before the busy Memorial Day weekend.
This summer, ADK plans to have one staff member present five days a week, including weekends, with some basic visitor information and restrooms. A naturalist will lead a program one day a week.
“Our intention is to have a minimal presence this summer,” Barrett said.
As for the trails, Barrett said the club’s goal is to make the trails open to the public eventually, but he needs to determine if they are properly insured first. An announcement about their availability is expected later this spring.
Right now, ADK appears more focused on the long-term plans for the property. In an email, Ben Brosseau, ADK’s communications director, said the property’s master plan and upgrades are expected to take three to five years.
One of the key questions is what to do with Cascade’s “Great Room,” a dining room and bar area that has been used for skiers for years.
“My concern is to see that space available in the winter for food and comfort,” said John Drendel, an ADK member who lives in Montreal.
Barrett said he heard Drendel “loud and clear,” and that ADK is exploring the option of continuing those services but noted one of the challenges ADK faces is ensuring enough space for educational programming.
Barrett said ADK also hopes to use the property to address the housing shortage by allowing workers to stay there, starting this summer. ADK has 40 staff members throughout the year and 90 in the summer. He said the club provides worker housing at its Adirondak Loj property at Heart Lake and can do the same at Cascade. The club will also be able to provide housing for interns from other organizations.
Cascade has two apartments that will be used by the Jubins until the end of the summer, but also has an additional seven bunkrooms that can sleep 32 people.
“They are very utilitarian,” Barrett said. “But I think we can spruce them up a bit.”
In the past the bunkrooms have served visitor hikers, but ADK won’t be offering them to the public for this summer, at least.
One limitation of the property is it doesn’t have any additional building rights, but Barrett said that it may be able to get permission to transfer a building right from its Heart Lake property, if the club sees a need for that. Right now, that’s not in the plans.
As for the property, naturalist Audrey Hyson noted that the Cascade property has a lot of wetlands and good opportunities for birding and requested that those sensitive habitats and wildlife be considered and protected as ADK plans recreational trail upgrades.
Barrett said ADK wants to achieve the same goals that Hyson mentioned, and ADK Deputy Executive Director Julia Goren said a volunteer has come forward and offered to do a biological inventory of the property.
Kate Hacker, a volunteer trailhead steward and member of ADK’s board of directors, asked if Cascade would be working with other organizations and visitor centers, an opportunity she said was outlined in a recent Adirondack Explorer article.
“We see ourselves as offering a complement to what already exists,” Barrett said.
This was the third listening session that ADK has hosted. Others have been attended by government officials and staff of area organizations, such as the Paul Smith’s College VIC, state Department Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency and Barkeater Trail Alliance.
The final meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Attendees need to register in advance at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEtcuuvrD4rG9bjH_MSQAC5zXJLbip8GH3n