The Advertiser-News (south) - March 22, 2001 issue
Ski Train Could Come to Area
Vernon-It's likely a ski train may be bringing visitors
to Mountain Creek in the not too distant future.
Hamburg Councilwoman Marge Morreale spearheaded the
idea for the rail service to the county at a meeting of area officials
about the future Intrawest Ski village proposal.
Sussex County Transportation Planner Tom Drabic said
an excursion train bringing ski visitors to the resort is quite possible
and could start as early as 2002.
The train proposal is seen as helping to alleviate
traffic concerns for the proposed ski village.
Traffic was the main issue for area elected officials
at last Thursday's meeting to discuss the Intrawest proposed development.
The meeting, sponsored by Vernon Mayor John Logan and Mountain Creek
officials, drew about 35 elected officials from surrounding municipalities
and the county at Mountain Creek's Discovery Center.
The Vernon Township Planning Board approved the ski
village's general development plan, that is a conceptual overview of
the project expected to span 13 years, in December.
The development has been a source of controversy sparking
opposition from environmental groups. These groups have lobbied governmental
officials to pass resolutions against the proposed development of 1,613
resort residential units, 170,000 square feet of commercial/retail space,
a hotel, a conference center and a mountain top golf course.
"It's a win/win situation. It can be implemented relatively
quickly at relatively low cost," said Drabic.
Drabic said the existing New York Susquehanna and Western
Railway lines which run along the back side of the South Lodge parking
lot off Route 94 could carry the trains from Hoboken directly to the
resort. The only trains that use the rails are freight trains.
Drabic said the venture would involve the partnering
the New York Susquehanna and Western railroad, New Jersey Transit and
Drabic said there is already existing precedent for
the rail service as New Jersey Transit runs excursion trains to the
Jersey shore during summer months to promote tourism in the southern
portion of the state.
"There's an opportunity to run for the winter. It's
important for the region's economy," said Drabic. "(Mountain Creek would--[Missing
Once the impact of the resort is determined, methods
of remediation by the developer will be discussed and implemented at
the expense of the developer.
Hamburg Council members were concerned about the intersection
of Routes 94 and 23. Ogdensburg Councilman Robert Peist expressed concerns
about increased traffic along Route 517. He said the tiny borough has
seen increased traffic on the two-lane roadway as resort goers cut across
the county from Route 15 to Route 23.
Ross said that the developer would take concerns of
neighboring municipalities under consideration; however, he did not
know if traffic studies would be extended beyond township limits.
The meeting was scheduled by Vernon and Mountain Creek
officials to dispel inaccuracies and distortions about the development
Environmental lobbyists have persuaded Hamburg along
with the Passaic and Bergen County Freeholders to pass resolutions in
opposition to the development.
"Some government bodies reached conclusions by information
fed to them by our opponents," said Ross.
To set the record straight Ross said that the entire
development will provide that 92 percent of Mountain Creek's lands will
remain as open space. He added that the previously approved 27-hole
golf course has been scaled down by Mountain Creek to an 18-hole golf
He also noted that of the 1613 resort units, only 859
units will be located on the mountaintop and those will be clustered
in the style of lodges of the Grand Adirondacks. There will be no significant
commercial development at the mountaintop. Commercial/retail space will
be limited to ground levels shops in the village located at the base
of the mountain.
The development is expected to provide a major economic
boost to not only Vernon and the county but also the entire region.
By 2010 Mountain Creek estimates they will be a $540,000,000 ratable.
"This will be a jewel not only for Sussex County but
for the entire region," said Logan, "It's a challenge. We're going into
this with our eyes open."
[In case you're wondering what the heck this
has to do with the Sussex Branch, I put it in because if it comes to
pass, it will be the first regularly scheduled passenger service on
the 'South Vernon Branch' in a long time. -DR]
[The South Vernon Branch was the 4 miles from
Hamburg to McAfee that the SRR built to get to the mines/quarries in
McAfee. It was later sold to the Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad.]