Lake George tweaks economic development plan

This article appeared in The Post Star.

The town has identified about 20 properties that are ripe for redevelopment, including the old Ramada Inn off Exit 21, the old McDonald’s restaurant at 105 Canada St., the current House of Frankenstein seasonal tourist shops building at 111 Canada St. and the sand and gravel storage site near the entrance to town.

Other properties include Water Slide World and the Travelodge hotel behind Gooney Golf on Route 9, according to Dan Barusch, director of planning and zoning for the town.

A lot of these property owners have expressed interest in redevelopment and that’s why these sites were put in the plan,” he said.

Barusch said the town also conducted a survey of residents and what they wanted to see in terms of economic development.

They want growth and most people want a year-round community, which we identified in our comprehensive plan,” he said.

One aspect of the plan came under scrutiny — building a commerce park at either the old Ramada Inn site or on an undeveloped property owned by the Lake George school district.

Board member Marisa Muratori said she preferred to eliminate the commerce park idea and focus the attention on the Route 9 corridor.

The village and town of Lake George have so many areas that are blighted and ripe for redevelopment,” she said.

There are wetlands on one of the parcels mentioned for a commerce park, according to Muratori. That has impeded the redevelopment of that site. Another factor cited by Muratori is that the village and town are looking at possibly building a joint public works garage on that site.

Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said he wanted to keep the old Ramada Inn in the plan.

It’s not been occupied in 11 years. The roof is leaking and it’s a prime location,” he said.

Deputy Supervisor Vincent Crocitto said there have been interested developers in these projects, but they have been turned down because their plans are not an allowable use.

The Adirondack Park Agency has assisted Lake George in drafting this plan.

Dan Kelleher, special assistant for economic affairs for the APA, said commerce parks serve a purpose. To build a year-round economy that is not based solely upon tourism, Lake George needs to attract some new industries that export goods.

Those uses, you probably don’t want to put them on your new Gateway Corridor, which you’re going to be mostly targeting for retail development, housing and hotel use,” he said.

Dickinson said he believes that some portion of that school property mentioned for the commerce park is ripe for development. The board said it needs to reach out to school officials to see if they have any interest in selling the parcel.

The town also would like to add Thomson’s Garage to the plan.

Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky urged the board to take into account the impact of development on the lake. The current wastewater treatment plant is failing and the village is under a consent order from the Department of Environmental Conservation to fix it. He encouraged the town to consider implementing impact fees for developers to make wastewater improvements.

The plan is going to be updated for the board to adopt in January.

In other business, the Town Board:

Approved an amendment to the zoning code on littering. The town has had a problem with garbage receptacles not being maintained on private property.

Settled an assessment lawsuit with the Tiki Resort. The assessment has been reduced from $4.4 million to $3.7 million.

Accepted an arrangement where Barusch will also serve as the zoning administrator for the village of Lake George. The village is going to pay the town $10,000 to add to Barusch’s salary. The village’s current employee, Doug Frost, will just focus on code issues.

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