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Overhauling Main Street

Main Street project to move forward without broad community input

January 10, 2020
By ELIZABETH IZZO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A project that will reshape Lake Placid's core business district is expected to move forward without broader community input.

Planning for an $8 million overhaul of the Main Street streetscape and underlying infrastructure has been ongoing for years as village officials applied for grants to fund the project. Now that process is expected to conclude by the end of this month. The first phase of the project is likely to go out to bid in March, with construction set to kick off in the spring and last for the next two years.

During a meeting of the Main Street task force Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Mirror Lake Beach House, members of the volunteer group indicated that the village's request for bids from contractors would be completed before the broader community has an opportunity to provide input on the plans - and prior to a public information session later this month, where public input will not be allowed. The session hasn't yet been scheduled.

Article Photos

Main Street, Lake Placid, is seen here on Wednesday morning, Jan. 8.
(News photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

"It would have been impossible for us to do this with everybody in the community," Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said Wednesday, prompting a bout of frustrated comments among a handful of business owners in the audience. "It would've been a prolonged (planning) process."

Randall's comments come around a month after multiple local business owners decried what they saw as a planning process devoid of public input. Some said this lack of input has resulted in streetscape designs that don't meet the needs of those who live and work on Main street.

Business owners' main point of contention is the removal of on-street parking spaces, and what they see as a lack of focus on adding more.

The task force consists of more than 15 local officials, business leaders, planners and community members selected by the mayor. He says it represents "a broad cross-section of the community," and that is meant to serve as the public input component. He and village Trustee Peter Holderied both stressed Wednesday that the upcoming information session would be a meeting to present the plans to the public, not a public hearing.

Mary Jane Lawrence, chief of staff at the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and a member of the Main Street task force, called the lack of public input at the beginning of the planning process "a mistake."

"That mistake has already been made," she said, "but time is of the essence."


Main Street plans

The Main Street project is being billed by local officials as a way to rebuild old water pipes so they can support increased use, to rebuild the storm drainage system to better protect Mirror Lake from salt runoff, and as an opportunity to revamp the street's look with sleek new sidewalks and green space. The sewer main under Main Street was replaced in 2018.

It will not, as it turns out, be the definitive answer to the decades-long debate over how to add parking spaces downtown. The mayor announced Wednesday that a separate study will be commissioned for that.

The plan, as it stood Wednesday, appears to call for the removal of six on-street parking spaces - mostly on the lake side of the street. Last month, the plan was to remove 18.

Approximately 36 parking spaces would be added, however, to the upper municipal lot across from NBT Bank.

Five spaces would be removed from the lower lot there, and one parking space would be added to the large municipal lot across from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort - resulting in a net increase of 32 parking spaces within the village's parking lots.

Randall alluded to other possible parking projects in the works, one involving the High Peaks Resort and another involving the Crowne Plaza, but declined to offer details. He said those discussions are in the preliminary stages.

As part of the project, the village is also planning to create some small green spaces at crosswalks. What these spaces will ultimately look like is undecided, but preliminary designs revealed at the task force's meeting last month show neat clusters of trees and foliage, surrounded by custom fencing accented with metal pinecone and evergreen tree details. The green spaces are a requirement of some of the grant funding the village received for the Main Street upgrades, according to Randall.


Limiting negative impacts

This project's stakes are high. The local economy is fed by tourism, and some business owners worry their storefronts won't be easily accessible during the peak summer tourism season as construction unfolds.

Though construction crews aren't expected to be working on weekends, Creighton Manning engineer Tony Christian said last month the plan is to set up work zones and limit traffic to one lane on Main Street during two construction seasons. Trucks that aren't making local deliveries will be diverted onto Old Military Road. The construction crew will have someone on hand to direct traffic, and a temporary traffic signal will be set up.

Part of the Main Street plan also includes reconstruction of a retaining wall leading up to the upper municipal lot across from NBT Bank, a project that Golden Arrow Sales Director and task force member Brandon Montag said could take up to one year to complete, shutting off access to those spaces.

Those traffic limitations worry Lawrence, who said "the perception is that it's going to devastate an already shaky Main Street."

"That's just one more crack in the egg, so to speak," she said.

Lawrence asked the village to request that contractors specify if a pause in construction during the month of July, or some other period of time during the summer, would be feasible.

"We want to have as much time as we can in the summer for our industry," Lawrence said.


Biz owner hits brakes

Before moving forward with putting together the bid package for contractors, the village Board of Trustees is looking for the Main Street task force to come to a consensus on the proposed plans, Randall said. Trustees have the final say on the design.

Lawrence asked the group Wednesday if it was ready to provide that approval. But Marc Galvin, co-owner of Bookstore Plus, hit the brakes on that discussion.

Galvin said he wasn't going to approve anything without hearing from his neighbors on the north end of Main Street.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable saying yes before hearing from them," he said. "I think the plans look pretty good on the south end, but I'm just concerned what folks are going to say about the north end."

Randall agreed to attend a gathering with north end business owners to speak about the project following the Lake Placid Business Association's meeting on Jan. 14.

For what may be the final time prior to a public information session later this month, the task force's next meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Jan. 22 at the Mirror Lake Beach House.



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