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Lake Placid trustee opposes Bobsled Run Road paving funds

August 10, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer (aolivero@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Two weeks after the Ironman triathlon took over this village for the 19th year, and less than five weeks before a half-Ironman triathlon Sept. 10, Lake Placid trustees voted Monday, Aug. 7 to pay for $12,000 worth of Ironman-related road work.

That's the village's portion of $250,000 cobbled together by the village, town, Essex County, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority to pay to repave a 1.1-mile stretch of Bobsled Run Road. The road, southeast of the village in the town of North Elba, was repaved earlier this year.

The state Department of Transportation initially announced the project last August at its groundbreaking for a new bridge on state Route 73 across from the Olympic ski jumps.

"Ironman is an integral part of the North Country's economy," DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll said at the groundbreaking. "And this partnership will be a win for competitors, fans and visitors."

But right before the village board voted to approve providing the $12,000 at Monday night's meeting, Trustee Scott Monroe expressed trepidation.

"At this point, because it is somewhat of an unusual request, I'd ask for the authorization forward to proceed with it," Randall said.

"This is the first I've heard of this," Monroe said. "Is this something that's been in the works?"

Monroe was the only opposition vote as, by a 3-to-1 roll-call count, the trustees approved using $12,000 from the village's Housing and Urban Development Revolving Loan Fund to finance its share for the work.

Randall said the town of North Elba provided the same financial amount, although it derived its share from excess Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funds.

"We likewise have a similar situation with CHIPS funding," Randall said; "however, whereas the town can use that money to improve that road within the township, the village does not have the same opportunity.

"Funds that currently exist in the HUD Revolving Loan Fund, they can be used for economic benefit purposes," Randall said, citing what he said village Treasurer Paul Ellis had explained to him. "The economic benefit here was the renewal of the Ironman agreements and the addition of the five-year half Ironman in September each year."

The mayor also said that ORDA fronted the entire cost of the project while the DOT provided equipment, manpower and labor at no cost.

Even after this explanation, Monroe voted in opposition, maintaining his stance.

"My concern with this is that Ironman is a for-profit organization, and yet we are spending money to improve a course for them, right?" Monroe asked. "If they are making money, why aren't they spending their own money?"

"The Bob(sled) Run Road was in terrible shape," Trustee Peter Holderied replied. "It benefits ORDA, mainly."

"There is an economic benefit to the community from what Ironman brings here over a period of now what's five months a year," Randall said.

"Agreed," Monroe replied, "but the course could have been left the way it was without spending the money, too. If they wanted to keep it all within the county, where is their share?

"It was DOT's (initiative)," Holderied replied. "That's the point."

"Well, what was the project overall cost?" Deputy Mayor Art Devlin said. "Twelve thousand is a drop in the bucket for what it was."

"Just doesn't seem right," Monroe said.

Randall then concluded the discussion talking about a recent Guest Commentary in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise written by Lake Placid lawyer Brian Barrett. It was critical of the fact that World Triathlon Corporation, the Chinese-owned company that owns Ironman now, demands public funds through ROOST to hold the event here. ROOST must pay WTC $80,000 this year plus $100,000 to host September's 70.3-mile triathlon.

"I'm sympathetic to your thoughts, Scott," Randall said, "because recently there was an article in the Enterprise and unfortunately these types of events are events where they are attractive to other communities - we do compete. I know ROOST does make a substantial payment each year, and we are certainly aware of the fact that we provide substantial resources, certainly on the race day, if not at other times of the year."

The repavement improved a stretch of highly weathered road leading to the bobsled-luge-skeleton track, cross-country ski trails and biathlon center at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

Beginning with last month's race, the 112-mile bike route of the 140.6-mile Ironman went out and back on Bobsled Run Road during a loop from Lake Placid through Keene, Upper Jay, Jay and Wilmington. The new portion replaced a Haselton Road spur in Wilmington.

Officials from each organization that is contributing to the $250,000 payment initially met in spring 2016 to discuss the possibility of paving the road to help ORDA and Ironman. Ironman Race Director Greg Borzilleri said moving the bike spur to Bobsled Run Road improved race safety for cyclists while also reducing the effect on Wilmington homeowners.

 
 

 

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