Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Paul Smith’s College officials announced today that the transfer of the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) facility is complete. Paul Smith’s College will now own and operate the over 24,500-square-foot main building and accessory structures. A long-standing lease of the College’s land by the APA was also ended.
The APA operated the Visitor Interpretive Centers at Paul Smiths and Newcomb since 1989 and 1990 respectively with a mission to “enhance public awareness of Park resources and the Agency’s role in their protection.” Paul Smiths VIC staff provided interpretive services to nearly 75,000 students participating in on-site school field trips since 1989 according to APA officials. The APA closed the Newcomb and Paul Smiths VICs late last year as New York State’s fiscal crisis worsened.
“This transfer is good news for both the community and the VIC,” according to Dr. John W. Mills, President of Paul Smith’s College. “We’re excited that this great resource has been preserved.” he told the press in a prepared statement, “We will continue to look for ways to integrate the center into our academic programs, and explore additional possibilities for community involvement at the VIC.”
The Adirondack Park Institute, a volunteer, not-for-profit group that supports educational programming at the VIC, has taken the lead role in those efforts and has already raised more than $40,000, a press release said, noting also that “the college intends to maintain public access to the VIC’s extensive trail network.” “The trails, which are on college-owned land, attract thousands of hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other outdoor enthusiasts to the area every year,” the release said.
Paul Smith’s is expected to announce plans for the VIC, including programming, staffing, hours of operations, public visitation, special programs for the community, groups and schools, off site programs and outreach, in the near future.
The transfer of the Paul Smiths VIC to Paul Smith’s College ends the APA involvement with the Visitor Interpretive Centers. In July 2010 the APA transferred the state-owned buildings and equipment at the Newcomb VIC to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). SUNY ESF plans to integrate the facility with the Adirondack Ecological Center and the Northern Forest Institute and maintain public access. You can read more about those plans here.