Lake George Mirror
Lake George Village has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission help defray some of the costs of its new, state-mandated, $24 million wastewater treatment plant.
Both US Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik took credit for the grant.
According to Schumer’s office, the grant was awarded to Lake George “following (the Senator’s) visit to the lake in April and (his) tireless advocacy.”
True enough, Schumer did visit the Lake George Steamboat Company’s Steel Pier on April 17 to publicize Lake George’s quest for federal dollars.
Or, as his office put it, “Schumer leapt into action, traveled to the Village of Lake George and launched an effort to secure federal funding for the wastewater treatment plant.”
Congresswoman Stefanik put it this way, “I’m proud to have been able to deliver this important result for the community.”
The grant is the first awarded by the Northern Border Regional Commission (NRBC) to Warren County, which only recently became eligible for funding from that particular source.
The Commission was established in 2008 as a Federal-State partnership to direct funds to local economic and community development projects in the rural and distressed parts of the northeast.
Stefanik has successfully fought efforts by President Trump to eliminate funds for the Commission’s projects, the Congresswoman’s office has said.
“I have been a consistent advocate for the NBRC since day one in Congress,” Stefanik said in her press release.
Schumer’s office said that he “has been focused on helping Lake George secure federal funding for the sewage treatment facility replacement for months.”
During Schumer’s meeting with local officials in April, according to his office, he recommended they apply for a grant from the NBRC.
“After the Village sent in its application in May, the Senator wrote to the NBRC, urging the approval of the federal funding. Last month, Schumer met directly with top brass at NBRC to stress the importance of the project,” said Schumer’s office.
“Lake George, one of the most breathtaking natural treasures in all of New York State and a fundamental driver of the Adirondack tourism economy, is being polluted and degraded by an outdated wastewater sewage plant,” Schumer stated, explaining his support for the project. “It is imperative that we get this plant replaced, as soon as possible, and this federal funding is a significant step towards doing so.”
Standing aloof from the battle of the press releases, Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais is quoted in both, thanking the federal representative for his and her support.
Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George was also quoted, thanking each for decisive support.
The Lake George Association’s executive director, Walt Lender, said of the grant “It is a significant leap forward toward completing the project’s funding package, and is an important step in water quality protection.”
Mayor Blais said that the Village will be eligible to apply for a second $500,000 grant in two years.
If the application is successful, the NBRC will have contributed $1 million toward the costs the plant.
Blais has stated that Lake George needs an additional 9 to $10 million from state or federal sources if it is to fulfill the conditions of a legal settlement with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
(The DEC ordered Lake George Village to improve or replace its wastewater treatment system in 2014 when it was discovered that the plant was discharging excessive levels of nitrogen into groundwater, which seeped into West Brook and ultimately into Lake George.) With that level of support, Blais has stated, “taxes may rise to service the debt, but to a level that will be affordable.
Blais has asked the Warren County Board of Supervisors to consider subsidizing the plant’s construction by as much as $200,000 a year.
As of late July, Mayor Blais was still optimistic that state funding will arrive to help pay for the treatment plant.
“New York State owns Lake George. We’re its caretakers. We’ve been the state’s partners in looking after it all these years. Now we need the state to partner with us to maintain it and protect it as it deserves to be protected,” he said.
The new plant must be operational by August 2021, according to the consent order issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation.