Watertown— As of 2012, Watertown, New York population is 27,023 and with Fort Drum nearby estimating 80,000 troops annually. In the Army community, some may dislike the thought of living in the North Country and getting stationed at Fort Drum. The biggest reason is the brutal winters with 150-200 inches of snowfall and 42.6 inches of rain annually. The rain is not necessarily the main complaint as is the snow and winter months.
However, the perception of Jefferson County and surrounding North Country areas tend to shift into a more positive outlook, as some military families that do transfer here end up really enjoying it. Living in the North Country has numerous benefits for those that might be skeptical regarding what there is to do.
The largest major city close by is Syracuse, New York, which is just 70.1 miles away- approximately 1 hour and 11 minutes. Syracuse has the Carousel Mall for those that love to shop, as it is the 6th largest mall in the United States. For the winter months as well as any part of the year Syracuse has Cranx, an indoor bike park for those that are bike enthusiast.
Dale Cruse co-owner of Cranx told ABC50, “This isn’t California, we unfortunately have Syracuse weather. There’s so many talented riders out here. This is why Cranx was built, so that people can ride their bikes year round.” Dale went on to state that they have people of all ages that enjoy the indoor bike park, the youngest being 3 years old to the oldest being 73 years old.
Watertown, New York is just 30 minutes away from Canada and 2.5 hours east of Lake Placid, New York. If you have children and pets, Thompson Park is a great place to bring your family. Thompson Park provides not only a zoo, but also several different walking trails in addition to picnic areas. Military members can get a free pass to all New York State Parks, instructions right from nystateparks.com website is below:
“Patriot Plan Benefit
What: Pursuant to Executive Order 125 and in recognition of their commitment and sacrifices while in service, a member of the New York State Militia or any branch of the New York State National Guard or military reserves who is currently serving on active duty in support of the war on terrorism is eligible for one free Empire Passport for use by his or her immediate family during deployment and/or for his or her own use when returning home.
How: Complete an ordinary Empire Passport application, attach a copy of the orders (showing authorization/purpose/type duty code) calling the soldier to this active duty and mail it to Empire Passport, Albany, NY 12238 or fax it to 518-486-7378 attn: Empire Passport. Once approved, a free Empire Passport will be mailed. Applications are available online, by mail or at any New York State park.
Note: Annual reapplication, including submission of orders, is necessary as long as this program is offered.”
Watertown, New York and surrounding Jefferson County communities hold a special endearing charm and history. Such as Sackets Harbor and numerous national parks where one can hike, mountain bike and more. Special old fashion drive-in theaters like Watertown’s Black River Drive-In and Bay Drive-In at Alexandria Bay can be enjoyed by the whole family- parents, children and even your pets.
ABC50 met up with one Army Veteran soldier who is a strong advocate for North Country living. With some exploring and keeping an open mind, there are many great things that living in the North Country can provide for the entire family.