Over the past 10 years, more than 1 million people have visited the beaches of state parks in the region. However, the amenities have lacked. Wednesday, with the unveiling of more than $9 million in upgrades, the state is hoping to draw in even more people and extend the season for tourism.
It's days like Wednesday that show you just how important the summer season is in the North Country. It was raining, but it was also warm enough to spend the day outside, and there's only so many days that's the case, so families found their way to Southwick Beach State Park and made the best of it.
It's also why state park and county officials were in town, hoping a new $5 million bathhouse, complete with offices, bath and locker rooms, a concession stand, a children's arcade and even a general-type store can not only bring in more summer visitors, but perhaps extend the season a bit.
"Tourism is one of our major economic engines in the North Country. We have a short season. It's a very valuable season to us," Jefferson County Legislator Scott Gray said.
"If we can extend the season and bring more people into this area during the spring and the fall seasons, how great is that for this park certainly, but also for the surrounding communities just to extend the tourist season," NYS Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid added.
A portion of the bathhouse is already open. The state hopes to open the store and concession stand before the end of summer. For things like the arcade, it's all dependent on COVID-19.
However, one other improvement, to the nearby Westcott Beach State Park, is all set to open in just a few weeks. The state also unveiled eight brand new, lake view cottages.
Designed to attract a different kind of camper, these cottages offer a bit of luxury, room for seven people, two bedrooms and a loft, a kitchen, furniture, a bathroom with a shower and amazing views of Lake Ontario both inside and out.
"Maybe people like me who liked to be on the ground when we were younger, maybe don't want to get that far down, so now you've got a bed, a place to hang out," Kulleseid said.
"Amenities like this go a long way to making it the entire package," Gray added.
The cottages will be open each year from May through Columbus Day. You can begin making reservations starting August 1 and stays begin August 7. The cottages are $200 a night in the non-peak season and they rent for $1,400 a week during the peak season.
For more information visit reserveamerica.com.