DEC, brewery break new ground on old theme park site
NORTH HUDSON — The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Paradox Brewery broke ground Wednesday at the site of a new brewery and “Gateway to the Adirondacks” tourism hub.
The two facilities are part of a $25 million public-private investment to repurpose the former Frontier Town theme park, to bolster the local economy and to link recreational opportunities in the Adirondacks.
Frontier Town was a theme park that featured Old West nostalgia such as stagecoach rides and gun duels. The park operated from 1952 to 1998, and since then it’s pretty much been a ghost town.
Now, 20 years later, its location at Exit 29 on Interstate 87 is seen as a chance to divert travelers from busy areas such as Lake Placid.
“We’re creating a new place for people to go,” said DEC Commission Basil Seggos. “We’re starting to spread out some of the traffic in the Adirondacks — bring people to new areas they’re not accustomed to going, learn new things.
“For 50 years, Frontier Town was a popular attraction for many New Yorkers. Thousands of people came to [North Hudson] to experience Frontier Town, and then it sat for 20 years. From 1998 until now it has been a decaying property. Other businesses have closed, jobs have left, people have left. This multifaceted partnership between the state of New York, the town, the county and now private business is seeking to restore some of that energy to this area.”
The Gateway tourism hub will include a DEC campground with 91 sites (13 RV, 33 equestrian and 45 tent), on-site water supply, on-site wastewater treatment and stormwater facilities. The operating season for the Frontier Town Campground, Equestrian and Day Use Area will be from mid-May through mid-October, with the trailhead parking lot open year-round. The DEC has already begun construction. The day use area and RV and equestrian grounds are expected to open later this year, and the primitive tent sites will open in 2019.
Though Wednesday’s event was more of a ceremonial dig with golden shovels, Paradox President Paul Mrocka said official construction for the new brewery should begin Monday if the weather is appropriate.
The current Paradox Brewery is about 9 miles away from Frontier Town in Schroon Lake on U.S. Route 9. It has been there since 2013.
When asked what the difference between the old brewery and new brewery will be, Mrocka chuckled and said, “about 22,000 square feet. We’re running out of space over there. We have containers outside. We have tents outside. We just can’t keep up production there. The system that we’re running on is just too small to sustain all the beer that we need to make.”
Mrocka said he hopes the Gateway and brewery will bring jobs and tourism.
“I think this is a great opportunity not only for North Hudson,” he said, “but for the surrounding towns as well. I hope to see retail and maybe hotels here one day, too”
Mrocka said the production aspect of the brewery should be operational by December, and the tasting room should be open by Memorial Day weekend 2019.
According to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, “Paradox will invest $5.2 million into the new facility, which includes construction, machinery and equipment, and the installation of a new waste treatment system. [Empire State Development] is providing $200,000 through a North Country Regional Economic Development Council grant, and $300,000 in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits for the creation of 22 jobs. Additionally, the Development Authority of the North Country is providing Essex County $500,000 through the North Country Redevelopment Fund for demolition at the Frontier Town site.”