Posts Tagged ‘Lake George’

Friday, April 30, 2010

Lake George: Layers of History From Fort’s Well

In the two centuries that followed the French destruction of Fort William Henry in 1757, the only visible reminder of the fort was the old well on the grounds of the hotel.

“The French,” wrote Seneca Ray Stoddard in his 1873 guide to Lake George, “burned whatever they could not carry off. They could not steal or burn the ‘Old Fort Well’ however, and it still remains, partially filled with stones and rubbish.”

It was rumored that the British hid their gold and silver in the well during the seige of 1757. After the surrender of the fort to the Marquis de Montcalm, the officers’ wives who had been told that they would be granted safe passage to Fort Edward threw their jewelry into the well “having a premonition of disaster,” according to one account.

According to Stoddard’s tale, “On the night of August 9, 1757, as the Indians went about the fort, killing and scalping the sick and wounded, two women were thrown headlong down the well after having been scalped.”

Despite that rich history, the well has been excavated only twice; in the 1950s and again in 1997, under the supervision of archeologist David Starbuck.

The well was dug in late 1755, after Sir William Johnson defeated the French at the Battle of Lake George and began building Fort William Henry. Rogers’ Rangers, it is believed, actually dug and built the 40 ft deep stone well.

At least one source has it that the completion of the well was commemorated with a dance and a ration of rum for all.

Approximately one hundred years after the destruction of the fort, the first hotel was built on the site.

“Honeymoon couples would walk by the well and throw silver coins into it, believing that this offering to the legends of the ghosts which have been said to inhabit the walls of the old report, would bring them good luck, and future happiness,” the Lake George Mirror reported in 1955.

When reconstruction of the current replica fort began in 1953, the bottom was only 19 and 1/2 feet from the curb, indicating that that in the intervening years about 20 feet of of dirt and debris had accumulated.

According to David Starbuck, archaeologists were unable to dig deeper than 23 feet before hitting water when excavating the well in 1960. In 1997, Starbuck began a new archaeological dig at the fort, part of which was an excavation of the well. With the aid of sections of steel culvert with which to line the well and prevent it from collapsing, Starbuck himself was able to reach a depth of 30 feet.

“Since 1960 the well had been the center of attention for every school child who visited the fort,” Starbuck wrote in his “Massacre at Fort William Henry.” “They left us with a forty year legacy of tourist memorabilia.”

Starbuck and his assistants found toys, sunglasses and a lot of bubblegum.

At 27 feet from the surface, Starbuck made a discovery that completes our knowledge of the well’s construction. “The well had been lined at its bottom with vertical wood planks, creating a water tight barrel that prevented silt from washing in,” Starbuck reported. “(Each of the planks) was three inches thick, and twelve inches wide. Massive and tightly joined, the boards were waterlogged and swollen, and groundwater could seep into the well only by running over the tops of the planks through knotholes.”

Fort William Henry’s Archaeology Hall includes a full scale recreation of the well, enabling viewers to experience for themselves Starbuck’s sensations as he stood at the bottom of the well, sending up buckets of earth, debris, and the thousands of coins visitors have tossed into the well over the years. (The treasure, we assume, went elsewhere.)

Gerry Bradfield, the fort’s curator at the time, installed a video camera within the well’s shaft and taped the entire process.

The Archaeology Hall and other rooms throughout the Fort contain thousands of artifacts discovered on the grounds of Fort William Henry since the 1950’s, when the reconstruction of the fort began. Recent discoveries, such as pre-historic pottery shards as well as buttons from the uniforms of American soldiers in the War of Independence, suggest that the site was used before and after the fort was burned in 1757.

The exhibits are part of a larger “Living History Program” designed to enable visitors to better understand the history of the colonial era. The program includes tours led by guides in authentic costumes, the firing of 18th century muskets and cannons, recreated scenes of life at the fort and scenes from the events that took place there, as well as visits to dungeons, a powder magazine and a crypt of the victims of Montcalm’s 1757 massacre. Visitors can also view the 1936 film version of Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans,” believed by many to be the best and most graphic portrayal of Montcalm’s siege and the ensuing massacre.

The Fort William Henry Museum is open from May through October.

Photo of Old Fort Well, circa 1959, Lake George Mirror files

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ADK to Host ‘Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball’

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) 14th annual gala and auction, “Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball,” will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday, May 21, at the Fort William Henry Hotel’s historic White Lion Ballroom, overlooking Lake George. The Black Fly Affair is ADK’s largest fund-raising event of the year, and proceeds from this year’s event will help support ADK’s education intern programs.

Recommended attire for the event is semi-formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced.

Peter and Ann Hornbeck are honorary chairs, and Gregory McKnight will be master of ceremonies. Beverages will be provided by Adirondack Winery and Cooperstown Brewing Co., and there will be dancing to the music of Standing Room Only.

ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction, where guests will bid on original artwork, outdoor gear, weekend getaways, cultural events and more. Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals will conduct the auction. A preview of auction items is available at the
ADK Web site, www.adk.org.

Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door. To make reservations, visit www.adk.org or call , Ext. 14. To donate an
auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at , Ext. 42. Discounted room rates for Black Fly attendees are available at the Fort William Henry Hotel and the Best Western of Lake George.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the New York State Forest Preserve and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lake George Association Annouces 2010 Events

The Lake George Association (LGA), now celebrating its 125th anniversary, has announced its 2010 summer schedule of ecology educational programs for the public. The LGA is the oldest lake association in the United States, and one of the oldest non-profit conservation organizations in New York.

Families, schools, businesses and individuals interested in preserving the Lake George region for future generations are invited to join the LGA for one or more of many educational offerings this summer; most are free of charge.

Free family hands-on water ecology programs will take place on Thursday mornings from 10-11 am; topics include Lake Invaders, Creek Critters and Fish Food.

Lake lovers of all ages are invited to participate in on-lake learning adventures aboard the LGA’s Floating Classroom. Trips for the public will take place on Thursday mornings in July and August at 11 am, leaving the dock at Shepard Park in Lake George.
Additional times are available for groups.

Four free workshops, entitled Landscaping with Native Plants, Aquatic Invasive Plants – Do’s and Don’ts, Water Conservation, and Lawn Care and Pest Management will be offered on four Saturday mornings this summer.

The public is also invited to participate in two clean-ups – one at West Brook and the other on Log Bay, and in LGA’s annual loon census count on July 17.

The organization’s 125th annual meeting, open and free to all, will take place on Friday, August 20 at 11 am at the Lake George Club. Reservations are required for the annual meeting and for the floating classroom trips.

A complete schedule of events can be found here.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene:Zuckerman and Friedman, Orchestras and Open Mics

Tonight: 3 Open Mics to choose from!

Then on Saturday, I think the Natalia Zuckerman and Andy Friedman concert looks like a very good bet. They both have strong guitar and vocal styles. I’m also intrigued by Gordon Stone‘s banjo playing – having checked some of it out on line – his music is complex and can get really exciting. If one is feeling ambitious it should be possible to catch both of those shows, missing only an hour of one.

Another thing I’ve noticed while looking around the Park schedules this week, are the number of orchestras giving performances, surely an indication of the warmer weather to come.

Thursday, April 22nd:

In Saranac Lake, Open Minded Mic Night at BluSeed Studios. Sign up at 7 and starts at 7:30pm. There is a $3 cover. Fantastic audience and fantastic talent.

In Ellenburg Depot, the Burlington Taiko Drum Group will give a free concert at The Northern Adirondack Central School.
Concert starts at 7 pm.

In Canton, Open Mic at The Blackbird Cafe runs from 7 – 9 pm.

Friday, April 23rd:

In Canton, an Chapel Organ Recital will be held from 12:15 – 1:15 pm at the Gunnison Chapel at St. Lawrence University. Free admission.

In Potsdam, Ten Speed Taxi will rock La Casbah from 9 – 11:45 pm. For more information, call (315) 379 – 9713.

Saturday, April 24th:

In Long Lake, the 19th Annual Spring Blossom Fiddle Jam at the Town Hall. Workshops are at 2 and 3:15 pm, to register call (518) 624-3077 ext. 13. The open jam starts at 6 pm.

In Saranac Lake, Natalia Zuckerman with Andy Friedman at BluSeed Studios. The concert starts at 7:30 pm and the charge is $14/ $12 for members. For reservations call (518) 891 – 3799.

In Saranac Lake, “An Evening of Operetta and Broadway” will be presented by the High Peaks Opera Studio. This concert will be held at Saranac Village at Will Rogers at 7:30 pm. A donation of $5 is suggested. Call Debbie Kanze at (518) 901 – 7117 for more information.

In Saranac Lake, a new Chamber Musical “At Saranac” will be performed for the first time by Phil Greenland and Tyler Nye.
The show starts at 8 pm in the John Black Room of the Saranac Laboratory and a $5 donation is suggested. For more information, call (518) 891 – 4585.

In Saranac Lake, the Gordon Stone Band plays the Waterhole, starting at 9 pm.

In Lake Placid, a Open Mic will be held from 8 – 10 pm at the Cabin of The Northwoods Inn. Special guests are poets; Paul Pines and Theo Hummer. For more information call (518) 523 – 1312.

In Lake Placid, David Knopfler at LPCA. Concert starts at 8 pm and tickets are $16. Call (518) 891 – 2512 for reservations.

In Queensbury, Coffee House & Open Mic will be held at the UU’s Church on 21 Weeks Road. a $4 donation includes fruit, desserts, tea and coffee.

In Lowville, The Black River Valley Concert Series presents “Zen Is For Primates”. Doors open at 7:45 and the concert starts at 8 pm and will be held at the Lewis County Historical Society. For more information email; lewiscountyhistoricalsociety@hotmail.com .

Sunday, April 25th:

In Long Lake, the 19th Annual Spring Blossom Fiddle Jam starts back up at noon. The event is held at the Long Lake Town Hall.

In Lake George, a benefit “Spring Fling” will be held at the Adirondack Pub & Brewery. Tickets are $20, for more information call (518) 668 -2616.

In Canton, The Best of The Classics: String Orchestra will be held at the Gunnison Chapel from 2 – 3:30 pm. Free admission.

Tuesday, April 27th:

In Potsdam, The Crane Symphonic Band will perform at 7:30 pm at the Helen Hosmer Hall, SUNY Potsdam. It’s a free concert.

Wednesday, April 28th:

In Lake Placid, The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra will perform at 8 pm at LPCA. Tickets are $15 and less. For reservations call (518) 523-2512.

In North Creek, Vinnie Leddick plays barVino at 7 pm.

In Potsdam, the Potsdam High School Band & Orchesrta Concert will start at 7:30 pm. It will be held at the high school and admission is free.

Photo: Natalia Zuckerman


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adirondacks Forest Ranger Report (April 2010)

What follows is the Forest Ranger Activity Report for April 6 through April 18 for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. These reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date.

Clinton County

Town of Beekmantown, Private Lands

On Monday, April 5, 2010, at 6:40 AM, DEC Dispatch received a call from New York State Police Plattsburgh requesting assistance locating Kim McDonald, 56, of West Chazy, NY. The State Police had information that led them to believe that Mr. McDonald may have intended to harm himself. DEC Forest Rangers responded and along with NY State Troopers began a search of the area. At approximately 9:00 AM, the Mr. McDonald was located in a swamp behind his house. He was missing his shoes, suffering from exposure, and had superficial wounds to his face, feet and hands. He was carried out of the woods and transported to CVPH Medical Center. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Lake George: Guy Lombardo’s Speed Boat Racing Stunt

Gar Wood and George Reis excepted, Gold Cup racing produced no amateur racer more famous than Guy Lombardo, the director of the dance orchestra at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

In the spring of 1949, he paid a visit to Lake George, ostensibly to plan a record-breaking run from Lake George Village to Bolton Landing.

As it happened, the bandleader never did bring his his boat to Lake George. But never mind. The visit is one more chapter in the annals of boats and boating on Lake George.

Lombardo won the 1946 Gold Cup race on the Detroit River in his Tempo VI, a 1934 hull with an engine that still qualified for Gold Cup racing according to the rules established in 1920. Bolton summer resident Melvin Crook described Lombardo’s victory this way for Yachting magazine: “Lombardo finished by finding a good rhythm and conducted to a fine crescendo, rather like as if he were directing Ravel’s Bolero.” 1946, however, was the last year the old rules applied, and as a consequence, the boats were much faster in 1947 and 1948. Lombardo lost the Gold Cup races in 1947 and 1948, although, with a new engine, he broke a world speed record for the mile in Miami in 1948. Clearly, Lombardo was not ready to retire from racing. He hoped to break a speed record of 141.74 mph set by Sir Malcom Campbell in 1939, which his rival, racer Danny Foster, had tried and failed to do in 1946. To succeed, Lombardo needed a new boat, and a body of water suitable for record breaking speeds, or so he said.

Lombardo was performing with his orchestra in Glens Falls that month; one day, he brought two of his brothers and some members of his band and his racing crew to Lake George to see if it would be a good place to break Campbell’s records. After inspecting water conditions, docking facilities and a probable course (a 10-mile, straight course from Lake George Village to Bolton Landing), Lombardo reportedly pronounced conditions ideal.

Henry Kaiser, who had built hundreds of ships during World War II, was supposedly paying for a new boat capable of great speeds for Lombardo to use to set the new world record. She was to be built by Ventnor Boat Works in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which also built Lombardo’s Tempo VI. Kaiser, who had a summer home in Lake Placid, said that he wanted the record to be broken there. Lombardo claimed that if that was the case, he would bring Tempo VI to Lake George and, at the very least, break Gar Wood’s 1932 record of 124.915 miles per hour.

Lombardo, accompanied by Paul Lukaris and Harry Cohan, went by boat from Lake George Village to Bolton Landing, where they docked at George Reis’s boathouse and where Lombardo, it was reported “matched nautical knowledge and swapped boating information” with Reis.

The photographs taken that day are apparently all that the visit produced. Boat racer and builder Bill Morgan says that to the best of his knowledge, Lombardo never returned, and that he certainly never attempted to break a world’s record on Lake George.

Given the involvement of Paul Lukaris (who later promoted Diane Struble’s swim of Lake George), Harry Cohan (who would become New York’s boxing commissioner) and the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, one can’t help but assume that Lombardo’s visit to the lake that day and his claim that he was considering coming to the lake later in the year to set a world’s record were all part of a publicity stunt, useful for Lake George and for Lombardo himself, whose orchestra still had engagements in Glens Falls.

For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror

Photo: Guy Lombardo with George Reis, inspecting El Lagarto.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alan Wechsler: Suggested Hikes For Mud Season

It was T.S. Eliot who wrote “April is the cruellest month.” He also wrote, in his epic poem “The Waste Lands”: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Substitute “mud” for “dust,” and Eliot might have been talking about the Adirondacks after the snow melts (although, you want to talk about cruel, let’s talk black flies …but that’s a subject for another post).

Anyway, as we reach the spring mud season, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation issues its annual “please don’t hike on muddy High Peaks trails” request, may we suggest a few dryer alternatives?

For starters, cast your eyes southward. The Lake George region, which gets much less snowfall than other areas in the park, is also one of the first places to warm up in the spring. There’s enough hikes there to last a full season, but we can easily recommend a few: » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lake George Arts Project Presents ‘Spring Fling!’

The Lake George Arts Project will host “Spring Fling!” at the Adirondack Pub & Brewery in Lake George on Sunday, April 25, from 3 to 7 PM. Featuring food and music, the Spring Fling is in keeping with other Lake George Arts Project events such as Bands ‘n Beans, the Summer Solstice Cruise, and the Black Velvet Art Party. Proceeds from the event will help support the Arts Project’s many programs which include the Summer Concert Series in Shepard Park, the Lake George Jazz Weekend, various art workshops, and the Courthouse Gallery exhibition series.

Music will be performed by “Tequila Mockingbirds,” a Saratoga based acoustic duo. The menu will feature roast pork prepared by chef Ed Pagnotta from the Barnsider Restaurant. This year’s special raffle prize is a chainsaw carving of a bear, which will be sculpted on the premises by wood carver Glenn Durlacher of Queensbury.

Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $10.00 for children 12 and under, and are available at the Lake George Arts Project and at the door at the Adirondack Pub & Brewery, 33 Canada Street in Lake George. A special pre-sale price of $15.00 is offered if purchased by April 21st . For information/tickets, contact the Lake George Arts Project at 518-668-2616.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Lake George Spring Cleaning with LGA Catch Vac

The Lake George Association (LGA), the membership organization that works to protect the beauty and cleanliness of Lake George, takes an unusual approach to spring cleaning… its called a Catch Vac, and it came out of storage and hit the streets of Lake George Village this week.

“The LGA’s Catch Vac removes large quantities of sand and grit, applied to the roads during the winter, that accumulates in the region’s catch basins,” said Randy Rath, LGA’s project manager.

The Catch Vac reaches and pulls out leaves, debris, bottles and cans from as far down as 100 feet into storm water drains, manholes and catch basins. The lGA provides the Catch Vac for lease to area municipalities, contractors, homeowners and private citizens.

“This month the village of Lake George is using the LGA’s Catch Vac. It requires only a couple people to operate, and efficiently removes large quantities of litter and polluting debris, allowing the catch basins to function properly so they can capture additional material before it enters the Lake,” Rath said. “Many storm drains and basins in the Watershed go for years without cleaning, because of perceived difficulty or expense. The LGA’s Catch Vac makes it relatively simple and inexpensive to take care of these cleaning tasks, which are so vital to keeping the Lake clean and healthy, and we are encouraging other area municipalities and contractors to contact us.”

To make a reservation to use the Catch Vac, the public may contact Mona Seeger at the LGA, 668-3558. In cooperation with the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District and other partner organizations, the LGA has applied for federal funding to acquire a larger, truck-sized system that will be shared by organizations across the Lake George Watershed and will more easily capture heavy material.

Photo: Catch Vac with crew in Village of Lake George (Lake George Association).


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nuisance Waterfowl Workshops Offered

The Lake George Association will offer a Nuisance Waterfowl Workshop this evening, Wednesday, April 7 at 6:30pm at the Hague Community Center, and again tomorrow, Thursday, April 8 at 6:30 at the LGA office in Lake George. A growing population of Canada geese on the lake is causing significant problems for property owners, with negative impacts for both people and the lake’s sensitive eco-system.

Staff from the USDA’s Wildlife Services department will make a presentation and demonstrate techniques, such as egg oiling, that can be used during nesting season to manage the area’s over-population of geese. The workshop is free, and will last approximately one-hour with questions and answers afterward. Reservations are not required.

Photo: Canada Geese resting in a pond during spring migration, Ottawa, Ontario (Wikipedia Commons Photo).


Friday, April 2, 2010

Remembering Lake George’s Chuck Hawley

When my wife Lisa and I were considering purchasing the Lake George Mirror, among the first people we consulted was Chuck Hawley, the artist, politician and activist who died on March 9 at the age of 86.

Hawley was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. He was at my engagement party and my father’s funeral. He was Lake George’s supervisor and a member of the County board when my father published the Warrensburg-Lake George News, and the two developed a mutually useful relationship. He’d tell my father what would happen before it happened – information prized by a weekly newspaper editor when he’s competing with a daily, as I’ve learned for myself.

In 1998, I wrote a profile of Chuck for the Lake George Mirror, which I reproduce here.

About twenty years ago, some hikers on Black Mountain discovered a slab of rockface inscribed: ‘R.Rogers.’ Whether this was in fact the autograph of Robert Rogers, as the hikers believed, is still subject to debate, but there is no doubt that many people around Lake George hoped that it was authentic.

Rogers and his Rangers have always appealed to our imaginations, perhaps because they were the first identifiably American heroes. Chuck Hawley, whose painting of a Ranger is reproduced here, has done more than anyone else in our region to shape the popular image of the Rangers.

The painting was one of a series depicting the Rangers commissioned by Harold Veeder in 1966 for the newly constructed Holiday Inn. They have been republished often in newspapers, magazines and books, and reproductions are best sellers at Fort William Henry and at the Lake George Historical Association’s shop in the old Court House.

Hawley wanted the portraits to be as historically accurate as possible; he spent months in the libraries researching the Rangers’ dress, habits and weapons; he read contemporary accounts and picked the brains of historians like Harrison Bird, the author of numerous books about the era, who served with Hawley on the Lake George Park Commission.

When he began the series, Hawley was Supervisor for the Town of Lake George, and the model for the portrait reproduced here was his colleague on the Warren County Board of Supervisors, Earl Bump, the Supervisor from Horicon. Another model was Howard MacDonald, for many years a member of the Lake George Village Board of Trustees and the founder of Lake George’s Little League.

Despite the fact that he has been both a public official and a painter (as well as a graphic designer and the owner of an advertising agency) Hawley has really had only one career: Lake George. It is a career for which he was in some sense predestined. Stuart Hawley, his father, was Warren County Clerk for twenty-five years; in 1950 he was elected to the New York State Assembly and served through 1958, when he was succeeded by Richard Bartlett. Assemblyman Hawley introduced the legislation authorizing the construction of the Prospect Mountain Highway. Fred Hawley, who was supervisor of Lake George from 1918 through 1921, was Chuck’s grandfather.

Hawley’s deep roots in the area (his own family came to Lake George a few decades after Rogers departed at the end of the French and Indian Wars) may have helped to make him an unusually farsighted public official.

He believed that the health of the tourist economy depended upon the protection of the lake, and the orderly development of the village and the shores. The businessmen who came to make a quick dollar, he has said, “can’t see past August. They’re the shortsighted ones. The visionaries see as far as Labor Day weekend.”

In 1997, Hawley gave up his seat on the Lake George Park Commission, which he had occupied for thirty years, ten of them as chairman.

In the late 1970s, worried that heavy development along the shores would cause the lake to lose its famous translucent clarity, and frustrated by the Park Commission’s lack of authority and funding, Hawley campaigned for the creation of a task force that would study the challenges facing Lake George and suggest approaches for meeting them.

In 1984, the Task Force for the Future of the Lake George Park was organized, with Hawley as a member. Of its 200 recommendations, the most significant were those urging the Governor and the legislature to enhance the Park Commission’s regulatory powers and to provide it with a reliable, independent source of funding. Hawley wrote to Governor Cuomo, “New responsibilities and powers for the Commission are vitally necessary to save Lake George. At this late date there is no alternative.”

Former Lake George Park Commission Chairman Carl DeSantis says of Hawley’s tenure: “He wasn’t afraid to take a stand, even if his position wasn’t popular with business. We’ve been good friends since the 1940s, and we both remember when the lake was a lot cleaner. Chuck has dedicated his life to protecting Lake George.”

Although Hawley has retired from official life, his interest in Lake George is undiminished. At his home on Pine Point, the lake is never out of view, and it has survived better than he expected. He’s pleased that the experimental use of sonar is under consideration, having fought to use that means to eradicate milfoil since the late 1980s. In 1971 he wondered aloud to a reporter from the Lake George Mirror why the Lake George business district faced away from the lake; in the late 1950s he and the late Alex Muratori developed a plan to build a boardwalk along the lake. He’s glad that one is underway.

And, of course, he still paints. Hawley’s landscapes of an unspoiled Lake George have been powerful tools for its preservation.

Illustrations:

Chuck Hawley’s painting of Robert Rogers, based on Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl Bump.

Hawley receiving Lake George’s Wilbur Dow Award from Dow’s son Bill, president of the Lake George Steamboat Company, in 2002.

Two landscape paintings of Lake George by Hawley: “Black Mountain in Spring” and “Down the lake in Spring.”

For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, March 26, 2010

Going Solar:Another Way to Help Save the Adirondacks?

If global warming is ever to be reversed, or even slowed, Americans must consume less of the energy produced by coal fired power plants.

Wind and solar power are among the alternatives New York State is promoting, said Adele Ferranti, a Queensbury resident who’s a project manager at New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

“Every little bit helps,” Ferranti said. “The potential for reducing emissions is tremendous; we can make a significant dent in the consumption of energy.”

More and more people are taking advantage of alternative technologies, Ferranti said.

“They’re doing it because it’s the best thing they can do for the environment,” said Ferranti. “They’re replacing the energy made by burning fossil fuels with clean, natural power.”

Among the Lake George residents reducing carbon footprints are Rebecca and Candida Smith. The daughters of the late sculptor David Smith, they live part time at the home and studio he created in the hills above Bolton Landing.

A few years ago, they contracted with GroSolar, a Vermont company recommended by author-turned-environmental activist Bill McKibben, to install solar energy systems in the property’s three buildings.

“Global warming caused by human activities was a problem I had been aware of for a long time but it was too big, complicated and scary for me to bear thinking about for long,” said Rebecca Smith.

But after recent visits to Australia (“where I was relatively close to the ozone holes in Antarctica and actually felt how much stronger the effect of the sun was down there — it burned into my eyeballs painfully at times”) and Great Britain (“where climate change was an accepted, observable reality that government was starting to do something about”) as well as extensive reading on the subject, Smith said she became “interested and excited about the new technologies and decided to see what could be done at my family’s home in Bolton.”

Smith adds, “One person can’t do much, but there are many, many people out there doing lots of things and I am inspired by being part of that effort.”

According to NYSERDA’s Adele Ferranti, New York State offers financial incentives to homeowners like the Smiths to encourage the use of alternative energy. “Our goal is to build an infrastructure that will not only make solar power more affordable but reduce the consumption of fossil fuels,” Ferrante said.

Eliot Goodwin of GroSolar says that New York State will pay 40 to 50% of the costs of installing a solar energy system in the form of a rebate. “The homeowner is also eligible for a 25% state income tax credit and a 30% federal tax credit,” said Goodwin. “This works out to be about 60 to 65% of the costs paid for by outside sources.”

Nevertheless, the initial investment is expensive. Whether an alternative energy system is cost-effective depends upon how one determines value, groSolar’s Eliot Goodwin suggests.

“Is a car cost effective? Is a marble countertop cost effective? Is a pool cost effective? Is a hot tub cost effective? Is it cost effective to have no mountain tops left from coal mining? Is it cost effective to no longer have clean air to breathe?” he asks.

Still, Goodwin said, “With solar, no matter what, the system will pay for itself in its lifetime. You can usually expect a 7-11% return on your investment and you can also expect the house to increase in value by as much as the system costs.”

Short-term costs are offset by long-term savings, and, of course, by environmental benefits, said Rebecca Smith.

“By my calculations, it will take about 9 years to pay for the solar panels (which are under warranty for 25 years).” said Smith. “I don’t regard this as a money-saving strategy in the short run but as an investment that will pay off in dollars and environmental benefit in the long run. The satisfaction of making a difference is a really great feeling and it inspires me to do more.”

According to Fred Brown, the property’s year-round caretaker, approximately 80 flat solar panels were installed on the roofs of three buildings last spring.

“The system is comprised only of solar panels and an inverter,” said Brown. “ The panels produce direct current (DC) electricity which is steered toward the inverter where it’s converted into the Alternating current (AC) electricity, the same kind of power you get from the power grid.”

The power is not stored, but, rather, either used immediately or sent backwards through the meter, creating dollar for dollar credits in a process known as net-metering.

“We send power to the grid and the meter runs backward,” said Brown.

“During the summer solar panels create more energy than the owner can consume and the utility is required by law to buy it from you and credit your account,” said Rebecca Smith. “The power companies now depend on the small percentage of solar owners to feed in a critical extra margin of energy during the peak summer months.”

For Rebecca Smith, the environmental benefits of using alternative energy are local as well as global.

“If warming trends continue, there won’t be maple trees in the Adirondacks for our grandchildren,” she says. “I decided that it was better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.”

Every year, more New Yorkers are adopting that attitude, said Eliot Goodwin.

“We have approximately 75 installations in New York under the current programs. There’s probably another 2-300 installations in the state divided amongst 30 other installers. People care about the world they’re leaving to their children.”

Photo: A solar-powered workshop on the David Smith estate in Bolton Landing.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gaslight Village: County Faces Deadline for Decision

Warren County’s Supervisors may be wavering on whether to preserve or condemn the two buildings that remain standing at Gaslight Village, but the time for a decision is fast approaching.

A $200,000 grant has been awarded to the three environmental organizations that own an easement on all but 2.5 acres of the Lake George property to demolish Charleys Saloon and some smaller structures this summer, and the county must decide whether it wants that grant to also pay for the demolition of Gaslight Village.

“I know there will be unhappy people whichever way we go,” said Supervisor Bill Kenny, who chairs a committee of Supervisors monitoring the project, which will include a park and water pollution controls.

Warren County, the Town and the Village of Lake George have until the end of May to reach a decision, said Warren County attorney Paul Dusek.

By then, Requests for Proposals will have been issued soliciting bids for the demolition of some or all buildings.

If the Calvacade of Cars building and the Opera House are omitted from the bids, they will remain standing.

Should the municipalities decide at a later date that the buildings are too costly to repair (the engineering firm of Clark Patterson told the Supervisors that it would cost at least $1.5 million to restore both buildings) the municipalities will have to pay for the demolition themselves

The Opera House, which Warren County Superintendent of Public Works Bill Lamy characterized as “not safe” and structurally unsound, was expected to be designated for destruction by the Warren County Board of Supervisors at its February meeting.

In fact, a resolution had been drafted for the Supervisors to approve agreeing to the demolition of the Opera House.

Instead, and despite Lamy’s analysis, the Supervisors voted to retain both buildings.

That decision pleased Lake George Supervisor Frank McCoy, the director of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce and local businessmen like John Carr, who told the Board, “these buildings are usable.”

The vote dismayed Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais and several Lake George residents and business owners, including Lake George Steamboat Company president Bill Dow, who favor the demolition of the buildings. [Ed. – Read comments from two residents, Betty Spinelli and Joe Stanek, at the Lake George Mirror].

Dow, Fort William Henry Corporation president Bob Flacke and the Lake George Citizens group prefer a plan presented by Mayor Blais at another meeting of county supervisors, held a week later.

Blais argued that both buildings should be demolished.

“Four engineering studies have indicated that the costs to renovate the buildings into usable meeting space is extensive,” he said.

The open space should be used for parking, at least until a study has been undertaken that would identify the best use for the site. If the study recommended the construction of a new building or a pavilion, grants could be sought, said Blais.

Lake George Village has been awarded approximately $4.5 million in grants for similar projects in recent years, Blais said.

Regardless of the county’s decision about the Gaslight Village buildings, demolition of Charley’s Saloon on the parcel south of West Brook will start in mid-June, following the conclusion of Americade.

“New York State’s Department of Transportation will contribute the first $600,00 toward the construction of a storm water treatment complex on the historical wetlands, but the construction schedule has to coincide with work DOT is planning for Route Nine,” explained Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George.

According to Bauer, the demolition will be completed by mid-summer; construction
of the storm water management complex will begin after the Adirondack Nationals Car Show in early September.

Kenny’s committee held a public hearing on to solicit opinion about the future of the Opera House and the Calvacade of Cars buildings on March 22.

It will meet again on April 12 before making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror

Photo: Buildings at the former Gaslight Village Property in Lake George Village (John Warren photo).


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Safe Boating Courses Will Be Offered Locally

The Lake George Association is co-sponsoring a series of safe boating training courses, leading to certification through New York State Parks and Recreation. Two options are available: a single-day course on a weekend, or a three-day evening course during the week. Students who take one of the sit-down courses this spring will be able to come back in the summer for an on-lake program aboard the LGA’s
Floating Classroom boat.

The courses are free and are open to adults and children 10 years of age and older. The course is required for all young boaters ages 10 – 18 and for any person in New York State who is driving a personal water craft (PWC), also known as a jet ski. People 18 and over who complete the course hours and requirements must send in a $10 fee to receive their course completion card.

Instructors for the indoor training are provided by the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association (ENYMTA) and the Lake George Power Squadron. Class size is limited to 15 participants.

ENYMTA courses:
Sunday, May 16 SNUG HARBOR MARINA, Ticonderoga, 9 am – 5pm
Register with Bob Palandrani 518-585-2628

Saturday, June 19 SCHROON LAKE MARINA, Schroon Lake, 9 am – 5 pm
Register with Craig Kennedy 518-532-7882

Saturday, July 17 ALPIN HOUSE, Amsterdam, 9 am – 5 pm
Register with Kathy Andrews at 518-843-4400

LAKE GEORGE POWER SQUADRON courses:
All at the Lake George Association Office – e-mail the LGA at info@lakegeorgeassociation.org or call 518-668-3558 to register.
April 26, 28 and 30 (M, W, F) – 5:30 – 8:30 pm
May 10, 12, 14 (M, W, F) – 5:30 – 8:30 pm
June 7, 9, 11 (M, W, F) 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Later in the summer, aboard the LGA’s Floating Classroom boat, students will experience navigating through marked channels, identifying navigational markers, and using a marine radio, GPS and radar. The LGA will also point out safety equipment, fire suppression, life-saving devices and the proper use of personal flotation devices.

The Lake George Power Squadron is the local squadron of the U.S. Power Squadrons, a nationwide nonprofit advocating boating safety and recreation. For membership information or to learn more, contact Commander Stephen W. Traver at Traver@Capital.net or visit the web site at www.LGPS.org.

The LGA is a not-for-profit membership organization of people interested in working together to protect, conserve, and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin. For more information, contact the LGA at (518) 668-3558 or check out LGA on the web at www.lakegeorgeassociation.org.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Court Rules Against Marina in Bolton Property Dispute

Bolton Landing’s F.R. Smith & Sons Marina is not the owner of a 867 square foot strip of land where it has stored fuel tanks for more than five decades, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York State ruled on March 11.

Rather, the property belongs to the marina’s neighbor, the Boathouse Bed and Breakfast, which is owned by Joe and Patti Silipigno.

The courts have yet to decide whether an existing tank must be removed immediately, an expensive and time-consuming procedure that could disrupt the sale of gasoline to boaters later this spring.

“We acknowledge that the Appellate Court has ruled against us, and we are considering our options,” said Richard Bartlett, whose firm, Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart & Rhodes, represented F.R. Smith & Sons.

Attorneys for F.R. Smith & Sons argued that the marina acquired the land by adverse possession before 1997, when marina owner Fred Smith and Joe Silipigno signed an agreement allowing F.R. Smith to make use of the land in return for discounts on marine services and fuel.

“I wanted to be a good neighbor to Freddy, so I agreed to allow him to continue to use the property, and he was elated,” said Silipigno, who bought the Boathouse in 1996.

“Smith’s offered to plow my driveways in winter and service my boat at a 20 percent discount, offers I didn’t take advantage of. All I asked was that I be sold gas at a set price.”

According to Silipigno, that price was $1.73 per gallon, a price he continued to receive until 2001, two years after the death of Fred Smith.

In 2001, court papers state, Smith’s staff increased the price of gasoline and informed Silipigno that the marina was not bound by his agreement with Fred Smith.

Silipigno then brought a suit against the marina in the hope of having his title to the property affirmed, a move which he said caused ill-will among some residents of Bolton Landing.

“I was told, ‘neighbors don’t sue neighbors,’ but I didn’t initiate this. I think there was feeling against me because I’m a flatlander, an outsider, and the Smiths have been here for more than a hundred years,” Silipigno said.

Silipigno said that he was also attempting to protect the integrity of the Boathouse property.

Built in the early 1900s, the boat house was owned by speed boat racer George Reis, who won the Gold Cup in 1933, 1934 and 1935.

Until his death in 1962, Reis stored El Lagarto, his prize winning boat, at the boat house. El Lagarto is now on display at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.

“This is a historic property which shouldn’t be jeopardized,” said Silipigno.

The New York State Supreme Court found that F.R. Smith & Sons failed to prove that it had established title to the strip of land by adverse possession, a ruling that was upheld by the Apellate court in its March 11 decision.

Silipigno said that he did not yet know whether F.R. Smith & Sons would be required to reimburse him for his legal fees, which he estimated to be in thousands of dollars.

Photo: Boathouse Bed and Breakfast; from Lake George Mirror files.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


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