Often, people think accessibility is all about wheelchairs. That is until they confront a set of stairs on crutches or experience an impairment that can’t overcome physical obstacles.
“It’s been challenging to get my mother back to her active community involvement since a car accident impaired her walking,” said Saranac Lake resident and business owner Susan Olsen. “Getting her into places isn’t always possible.”
Despite recent projects that have provided improved accessibility in the Village of Saranac Lake, some residents still experience access and mobility problems because of physical barriers on sidewalks and in buildings, businesses and other places. » Continue Reading.
Established in 1903, Lake George Village will survive intact beyond December, 2013, the date it would have ceased to exist had a vote to dissolve been placed on the ballot and approved in March, 2011.
In a vote that surprised even Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village’s Board of Trustees decided on November 15 not to put the question to a vote in March.
“As far as the Village Board is concerned, dissolution is a dead issue,” said Blais.
Although the Village Board could revisit the proposal some time in the future, the trustees acknowledged that this was unlikely. Too many questions about the costs to taxpayers and the future of municipal services if the Village dissolved and merged with the surrounding township remained unanswered, and answers are unlikely to be forthcoming, they said.
Village officials had hoped to develop a plan in consultation with Town officials that would explain in detail how assets and liabilities would be distributed among the residents of a new, single community, but Town officials refused to co-operate, said Blais.
In the absence of a plan explaining how assets would be treated, what special taxing districts would be formed and how debt service would be handled, one agreed to by the Town, a vote to dissolve could have been a mistake, said Blais.
“People would have had no idea what they were voting for,” he said.
Town Supervisor Frank McCoy would commit to nothing more than stating that “if dissolution occurs, the Town will work to ensure a smooth transition,” said Blais, quoting a message from McCoy.
A study of the feasibility of dissolution, drafted by a consulting firm and overseen by a local committee, indicated that if the two municipalities merged, Village residents would see their taxes decrease by 19% to 30% while town taxes would rise by as much as 40%.
“It’s clear to me that the Town doesn’t want us,” said Trustee John Earl.
Trustee John Root, who chaired the committee appointed in 2008 to study the costs and benefits of dissolution, said he had favored putting the measure to a vote until Monday’s meeting, when every Lake George resident present opposed dissolution.
“Their concerns were understandable,” said Root. “I’m glad we’ve held public hearings; the residents have spoken loudly and clearly that they do not favor dissolution.”
Some residents, like Micky Onofrietto, Barbara Neubauer, and Doug Frost, for example, said that an uninformed vote would be detrimental to the interests of the residents themselves.
“I feel uncomfortable putting it to a vote, without people looking into it as I did, when I found that we had no way of knowing the true costs,” said Micky Onofrietto.
“I might save on taxes but lose on services,” said Barbara Neubauer.
Former Village Trustee and Tom Tom Shop owner Doug Frost said that as a businessman, he feared losing the benefit of the Village’s expertise in promoting special events and weekly attractions like fireworks shows that draw tourists to Lake George.
Town residents Joe Stanek, Karen Azer and Mike Sejuljic emphasized the differences in priorities and styles of governance between the Town and the Village.
“A 28% tax increase, borrowing to meet payroll, paying its bills late; the town should get its own affairs in order before incorporating another government,” said Azer.
After listening to public comments, Mayor Blais said that while dissolution was appropriate for some villages, Lake George Village remained a viable entity.
“In most cases, villages’ assets are not as large as ours, they’re barely surviving financially, they have small populations and they can’t find people to serve in elected or appointed offices,” said Blais.
Trustee Ray Perry introduced the motion to take no action on dissolution. It passed unanimously. Photo: Aerial view of Lake George from the Lake George Mirror photo files.
Officials from the Village of Lake Placid, the Town of North Elba, the Town of Wilmington, the New York State Olympic Development Authority (ORDA) and the Lake Placid CVB, and the Whiteface Regional Visitors Bureau have announced that they will host the 2011 Empire State Winter Games, which were canceled this week due to state budget cuts.
According to a statement from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on November 16, the summer, senior, physically challenged and winter Empire State Games were canceled after being cut from the 2011 budget. The 31st annual Empire State Winter Games were scheduled to be held in February 2011 in Lake Placid. The website for the games has already been removed. The cancellation led to discussions among community leaders about a solution that would allow the Games to resume as scheduled this winter according to an announcement issued today by the Lake Placid CVB. Representatives from the Towns of North Elba and Wilmington, the Village of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid CVB and the ORDA made a joint decision Wednesday evening to work cooperatively to ensure that the games would continue according to the announcement.
“We’ve made this decision on behalf of the greater Lake Placid region, just as Lake Placid decided in 1928 to pursue the 1932 Olympic Winter Games during the Great Depression, ” said Mayor Craig Randall. “This situation is actually an opportunity for Lake Placid, as it jump-started our existing plans to convene a leadership committee that will facilitate programs to support the communities’ sustainable future.”
“We’re pooling all of our collective talents, and are prepared to aggressively pursue funding to make this happen,” said James McKenna, President of the Lake Placid CVB. “We have already and will continue to communicate closely with the former Empire State Games staff to guarantee a rewarding experience for our New York State athletes.”
The event will be held on the weekend of February 25, 2011, and includes competitions in the disciplines of alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ski jumping, ice skating and more.
Did you miss something yesterday? I know I did. Ellen Rathbone, our dedicated naturalist for more than a year and a half has left the Adirondacks, and so too the Adirondack Almanack.
Those who have been following Ellen’s writings know that she contributed (twice a week!) out of the love of nature education and as part of her job as an interpretive educator and naturalist at the Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb. Despite her ten years at the VIC, when the Adirondack Park Agency faced cutbacks this past year, education and Adirondack visitor services were the first to go. Ellen had hoped to find a position here in the region but alas, ended up Education Director at the Dahlem Conservancy just outside Jackson, Michigan. The Dahlem Conservancy is an environmental education / nature center which also has a farm, at which they’ve just put in an acre of community gardens. She’ll be doing all sorts of public and school based nature, gardening, and environmental ethics programming. You can check them out at http://www.dahlemcenter.org/.
Ellen has been working as a naturalist or environmental educator almost steadily since she graduated from SUNY ESF in 1988 with a BS in forestry and biology. Her work has taken her from NY to NJ to VT but she had a special affection for what she called her “beloved Adirondacks.” Ellen incredible insight to our natural world and defense of the smaller (some would say creepier) creatures of our woods and waters will surely be missed here at the Almanack. (We’re currently in search of someone to fill her boots, no one could replace her.)
I thought in honor of Ellen’s departure I’d link to some of her work here at the Almanack. Of course you can always still follow her adventures in Michigan at her own blog.
For more than ninety years, the state’s Department of Agriculture has been the agency responsible for licensing dogs and collecting fees, which it shared with counties and municipalities.
But as of January first, those duties will devolve to localities, and towns like Bolton are hustling to adjust to their new responsibilities.
According to Agriculture commissioner Patrick Hooker, the department has provided municipalities with a “Municipal Dog Licensing Toolkit,” which includes a model local law, sample licensing forms, lists of vendors for databases and dog tags, a copy of the new law, and documents outlining how the new law will affect dog owners, animal shelters and the Animal Population Control Fund.
In exchange for assuming responsibility for licensing dogs, municipalities will keep all fees collected, which “will nearly double their revenue from dog license fees,” said Commissioner Hooker. “Administering the new system, including certifying that dogs have received rabies shots, will be time consuming, and it was helpful when the state was responsible, but we’ll adjust,” said Bolton Town Clerk Pat Steele.
While Bolton has had a dog ordinance on the books since 1978, its town board is now considering adopting a new law, one drafted by its attorney, Mike Muller, but based on the model supplied by New York State.
At a public hearing in November, resident Robert Weisenfeld commented that the clause requiring owners to exercise “full control” over their animals was too vague; he urged the board to revise the text to specify that dogs be leashed or muzzled.
Under the proposed law, the fee for licensing a dog will range from $5 to $13, depending upon whether the dog has been spayed or neutered.
Bolton residents will receive new dog tags from the town when current licenses expire, said Steele.
Fines for allowing dogs to become nuisances range could range from $50 to $300.
According to Commissioner Hooker, delegating dog licensing responsibilities to localities will save the state more than $325,000 a year.
“At a time when government is actively searching for cost savings and limiting services to those that protect public health and safety, it is a no-brainer for the State to get out of the dog licensing business,” Hooker said.
The Wild Center will host Wintergreen, a conversation about the future of winter recreation, sports and culture in the Adirondacks on November 12th at 9am at the NYSEF Building at Whiteface Mountain. Wintergreen is an open forum to discuss how climate change will effect the economy and cultural life in the Adirondacks.
Attending will be a delegation from Finland who will give their perspective on the way climate change is effecting Finnish culture and way of life. Community leaders, athletes, business owners and others concerned about the future of the winter culture of the Adirondacks should join in the discussion and sharing of how important winter is to our lifestyle and economy. Best labeled climate disruption, planetary warming is already impacting traditional winter and summer recreation and economic opportunities in the Adirondacks. From shortening the period during which ice covers Lake Champlain and mountain lakes permitting fishing shacks to spring up, to inadequate snow cover for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and certain alpine sports, a shift in expected weather patterns is beginning to affect us and eventually the bottom line. $92 million of tourism income in Essex County in 2009 was earned between December 1 and March 31 that year.
This is the first of two visits from the Finns to the Adirondacks. The team from The Wild Center, including community members, will visit Finland in 2011. These first round of exchanges are focused on education, while the second round will focus on forests and economic issues. During and after each visit, there will be community outreach, lectures and workshops as well as sharing with the online community through the Internet.
Wintergreen is a jointly funded effort. It is part of a project funded by the U.S. Department of State through the Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad (MCCA) program of the American Association of Museums (AAM). The project, entitled “Connecting Finnish and Adirondack Communities: Science Museums Facilitating Awareness and Action on Climate and Energy” is being conducted in partnership with Heureka/The Finnish Science Center. The forum is also sponsored by the Tourism Task Force of the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan (ADKCAP), through a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. ADKCAP is a coalition of about 30 universities, business organizations, community development groups, nonprofits, local government agencies, and energy action organizations around the Adirondack North Country region working with facilitation support from The Wild Center to find energy savings and green economic opportunities that fit the local lifestyle.
The purpose of the project is to facilitate an exchange of experiences between local communities in Finland and the Adirondacks, discussing community learning and action on energy saving, climate issues, and “green” practices supporting the regions’ commitment to sustainable tourism. The goal of the project is to help communities served by The Wild Center and Heureka to exchange experiences and discuss the need for more information related to climate and energy action. Participants and their communities will have an increased understanding of the global nature of the problem and shared commitment to solutions.
Communities around the northern world are seeking ways of participating in climate change action reducing carbon and saving energy locally. They are starting to notice changes in the climate that may affect their winter cultures, lifestyles and economies. In the two regions participating in the project, science centers and museums are facilitating that exploration and raising awareness of why action is important.
“We’re looking forward to the upcoming Finnish delegation’s visit and their perspective for Wintergreen,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “Our environment is similar to that of Finland. In many ways our cultures are often closely tied to our experience of winter and outdoor recreation, which is changing. Wintergreen will be an open discussion of ways we anticipate changes in our winter culture and recreation and understand the effects of climate change.”
Hoping to capitalize on the trend for organizations to go green Paul Smith’s College has launched a new program in natural resources sustainability. The program is hoped to produce graduates with the tools needed to compete for a growing number of jobs that call for skills spanning the sciences, business and policy.
“Whether it’s green construction, sustainable agriculture or energy development, we’ll be providing students with hands-on experiences as they develop the skills they’ll need to lead this growing conversation on sustainability,” said Dr. David Patrick, a Paul Smith’s College professor who is coordinator of the new program. “Our location in the Adirondacks is an ideal place for students to work on these challenges.” The program joins a host of sustainability measures taken by Paul Smith’s College in recent years: officials have pledged to eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, and all new construction is to be built to LEED standards. Today the college will take the wraps off a bottle-and-can redemption machine, so students can collect deposits on their recyclables without leaving campus.
Patrick said that the program’s curriculum crosses over several disciplines and is designed to prepare students for jobs in a wide range of fields, such as conservation and sustainable development, environmental planning and management, green business practices, and sustainable energy and energy efficiency.
As many as 60 students are expected to enroll in the program within a few years. The program was developed in response to the growing number of green-sector jobs. A 2009 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, for example, found that jobs in the clean energy economy in the United States grew 2.5 times faster than all other jobs between 1998 and 2007; other studies project similarly robust growth in the field as clean energy sources take hold.
Earlier this year, I published a piece on a state Public Service Commission (PSC) investigation into National Grid’s sketchy finances.
The monopoly power deliverer stood accused by the PSC of charging its Upstate New York electric customers for computers in New England, software licenses on Long Island and other corporate costs that have nothing to do with Upstate utility operations. A recent Post-Standardarticle added further tidbits uncovered during the PSC investigation: $1,254 for a National Grid executive to ship his wine collection across the Atlantic, $3,566 to repair another executive’s washing machine and pool cover on Long Island, and $35,700 to send a third employee’s children to a private school in Boston.
However, the Syracuse paper reported that the PSC will be forced to decide on National Grid’s proposed $400 million hike to its already sky-high rates long before the audit is complete. The PSC chairman told a senate committee that state law requires the commission to vote on the proposal within 11 months of its submission.
The president of National Grid USA said the rate hike is needed because much of the utility’s infrastructure is half a century or more old. Power bills have skyrocketed since its purchase of the former Niagara Mohawk, a purchase, it was promised at the time, would be wonderful for rate payers thanks to consolidation efficiencies. It begs the question: where has the money gone?
The multinational wants an 11.1 percent annual profit margin, while the PSC contends the rate should be ‘only’ 9 percent.
When campers return to the New York State-owned Lake George Islands next spring, the garbage barges will be there to remove trash from three transfer stations.
Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis has agreed to to raise camping fees by $3 per night to cover the costs of garbage collection, which the DEC had announced that it would suspend because of budget cuts.
The alternative to the proposed “Carry In – Carry Out” policy was submitted to DEC officials by state legislators, municipal officials and lake protection organizations at a meeting in Bolton Landing on September 17. “The decision is based on discussions and feedback from local Lake George officials and organizations, area state legislators and campers,” said David Winchell, a regional spokesman for DEC.
“Clearly, the DEC got the message. The message from around the lake was the same, whether campers or environmental groups or local or state government officials, everybody asked that the state deal with this problem not by weakening a successful program, but rather by increasing fees. The camping public is supportive of higher fees to maintain a level of service that will protect both the lake and the treasured Lake George island camping experience. Many families have been using these islands for generations” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George.
The $3 surcharge, which will raise the cost of a camping permit to $28 for New York State residents, will generate at least $90,000 in new revenues, enough to cover the costs of garbage collection, said State Senator Betty Little.
“The goal is to keep these sites clean, to ensure garbage doesn’t end up in the water and to prevent surrounding municipal trash systems from being overwhelmed,” said Little.
According to David Winchell, the surcharge will be collected by Reserve America, which administers public campsite reservation systems.
People who oppose the state’s acquisition of land in the Adirondacks often complain that the state can’t manage the forest it already owns. So, the thinking goes, why buy more?
That argument always struck me as risible. Forests can manage quite well without our help. They did so for eons before homo sapiens existed.
I assume, then, the critics mean that the state has done a less-than-superb job creating and maintaining recreational facilities on the public Forest Preserve—trails, parking lots, signs, and the like. In this, they have a point. It was driven home to me last weekend when I paddled the little-known Onion River. » Continue Reading.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County’s 4-H Adirondack Guide program recently toured Mead Lumber in Kingsbury (Washington County) to learn more about the timber industry. The 4-H group was reported to be impressed by an 1853 historical map hanging on the lumber company’s office wall which lists a C. Mead as the owner of the property.
Nick Mead and employee Bruce Lapierre, provided the group of 4-H youth, parents, and 4-H educator with a tour of the facility. The group started in the log yard where cut logs arrive by truck from a radius of around fifty miles from their site and are delivered by forty to fifty different local loggers during the course of a year. The logs are primarily derived from four different species of tree: white pine, red pine, cedar, and hemlock. Each species has a slightly different use, with white pine being used in the widest variety of applications. The cedar logs are being used primarily for exterior applications that seek rot and pest resistance. Hemlock wood is very strong, has a “stringy” nature to the wood and is also rot resistant. A lot of hemlock material is used in fence posts.
Nick and Bruce explained that in order to sustain their business through tougher economic times, they have diversified and added-value to the products they are producing. While the company offers retail wood sales, they sell a large amount of their product directly to post and beam companies; with the largest purchaser being in Canada.
The mill runs Monday through Friday and was not in operation during our visit, so they were able to tour the complete facility and see all the equipment used for each stage of processing; from the log peeler to the saw and sorting conveyer. The slabs of would cut from each side of the board wood are collected, chipped, and is purchased by another plant to be processed into paper in Essex County. Very little waste material is created at the facility.
The 4-H Adirondack Guides are evaluated on their ability to identify local tree species and communicate the various uses of those species. The tour of the lumber company gives a hands-on learning experience to the youth and strengthens their knowledge of the importance of our timber industry.
The Guides program is open to youth twelve through eighteen years of age from any New York county. Enrollment in the Warren County 4-H program is required and currently costs $5 per youth or $10 per family.
Photo: Bruce Lapierre of Mead’s Lumber tells 4-H members (l. to r., Blake Vaisey, Micheala Dunn, Amber Ruther, and Alex Knecht ) about the species of trees purchase by the lumber mill and what products are produced by each species.
The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake has announced that it will close it’s satellite retail store in Lake Placid on October 30th. The store, which opened in 2003, was an initial step in the museum’s long-range plan to reach out to communities in the Adirondack Park. Lake Placid was considered by museum officials to be the best place to begin.
“The subsequent and continuing economic downturn have forced a strategic re-thinking of the museum’s plans,” Adirodnack Museum spokesperson Katherine Moore told the press in a recent announcement. “At the present time it is no longer feasible to operate two retail operations and maintain a growing online sales presence.” The museum will concentrate its efforts and financial resources on the Blue Mountain Lake campus Moore told the press. It’s the second set-back for the Adirondack Museum in Lake Placid. In June of 2008, the museum ended its plan to erect a building on Main Street to house a new branch of the museum and its existing store. That decision was made “very reluctantly” museum officials said, citing a strained economic situation.
Last year, Adirondack Museum Marketing Director Susan Dineen told WNBZ that they were feeling the effects of the recession. “Like many large nonprofit institutions, our endowment has seen a downturn,” she told Chris Morris, “It’s unavoidable.” Dineen said today that the museum has not yet instituted a museum-wide hiring freeze or any layoffs. However, three employees at the Lake Placid store have been notified that their positions will be eliminated.
The Adirondack Museum’s economic travails are part of wider trend for local historical organizations. First Fort Ticonderoga faced financial ruin after Deborah Mars, a Ticonderoga native married to the billionaire co-owner of the Mars candy company Forrest Mars Jr., bailed on her long-time support for the fort just before completion of a new $23 million Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The Mars paid for nearly all of the new building’s construction but left before it was finished leaving Fort Ti about two million dollars in debt.
Then there was the well-publicized New York State Historic Site closure debacle that threatened the John Brown Farm in Essex County and the Macomb Reservation State Park and Point Au Roche State Park, both in Clinton County.
The long-awaited preservation of Rogers Island in Fort Edward is on hold after preservation funds dried up in July. Earlier this month, Governor David Paterson vetoed a bill that would have funded the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of America’s Second War of Independence, the War of 1812.
The news about the Adirondack Museum’s retreat was not the only troubling local museum news this week. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) abandoned its plan to occupy a 7,000 square foot former generating plant on the Burlington waterfront. The LCMM had planned an installation of the museum’s collection of historic shipwrecks.
“The City of Burlington has done an outstanding job putting together a sound plan for redeveloping the Moran site, but the Maritime Museum has significant concerns about our ability to raise sufficient funds to participate in the project and the long-term financial sustainability of a future Moran maritime museum site. We felt our continued participation in the project, given our funding concerns, was not helpful to the City in meeting their overall goal of redeveloping the Moran site,” Art Cohn, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, announced.
Photo: The Adirondack Museum’s store on Main Street in Lake Placid. Photo courtesy Sarah and Marc Galvin, Owners of The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid.
The High Peaks communities are developing a regional strategy for community revitalization, sustainable economic development, enhanced public access and promotion of the High Peaks waterfronts as an important resource for recreation and tourism.
A workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 28th at 6:30 PM at the Town of Wilmington Town Hall at 7 Community Center Circle. The goal of this workshop will be to present the vision, goals and key projects and initiatives for community and regional revitalization identified by the High Peaks communities in the Revitalization Strategy. Participants will be asked for their input on the goals and priority projects. The revitalization strategy includes the following communities:
* The Town of Keene including the hamlets of Keene Valley and Keene; * The Town of Jay including the hamlets of Upper Jay, Jay and the Essex County portion of Ausable Forks; * The Town of Wilmington; and * The Town of North Elba and the Village of Lake Placid.
The strategy lays out a vision and set of goals to create a prosperous shared future for the High Peaks region including:
* Revitalization of hamlets and downtowns * Developing a plan for cycling facilities and safe biking routes * Creating more access to the Ausable River for locals and tourists * Protection of the Ausable River and other water bodies * Enhanced tourism amenities and marketing * Investigating sources of alternative energy including hydro-electricity * Developing a plan for trail head improvements and creating new local trails and pedestrian connections * Protecting cultural and historic resources
The project is funded by a grant from the NYS Department of State through the Environmental Protection Fund and financial support from the participating communities.
For more information contact Melissa McManus, Project Coordinator (518) 297-6753.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
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