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Northwood’s downtown construction begins today

The former With Pipe and Book bookstore on Main Street in Lake Placid is seen in 2016. Construction to convert the building into an extension of Northwood School starts today. (Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

LAKE PLACID — Construction at the Northwood School building on Main Street starts Thursday.

During an emergency meeting Wednesday morning, the village Board of Trustees passed a resolution to approve Northwood School’s proposal for construction work on Main Street pending the following terms: a six-day work week during the abatement work period, pass-through scaffolding when able, Department of Transportation work permits received, and flaggers used as needed, to be provided by Northwood School.

The building in question is the former With Pipe and Book bookstore at 2495 Main St., next to the Bookstore Plus.

The first few weeks of the project will deal mainly with interior removals and should not interrupt the flow of foot and vehicle traffic, said Tom Broderick, assistant headmaster at Northwood School.

“We’re in our early phase where we’re basically prepping the site for construction,” he said.

“It’s mostly inside. You might see some abatement. You’ll probably see people going in and out. You’ll probably see some debris on the street, but you’re really not going to see much work.”

By the end of April, Broderick said the project should enter a phase that would require a crane, diverting pedestrian traffic, occupying some parking spaces, relocating a loading zone and flaggers to direct cars. The plan is to remove the roof and install steel structures and supports, essentially putting another building inside the existing one. That’s because the current building is not structurally sound, but Northwood wants to maintain the facade.

That part of the construction will take place in the middle of the week with material and equipment deliveries in the morning. Broderick said they may open up the sidewalk again during the weekends when crews aren’t working.

To keep from disrupting businesses in that area, Northwood plans to establish a temporary crosswalk close to Starbucks and the Bookstore Plus. That way people don’t have to walk far down the street then backward to reach those businesses, Broderick said.

Mark Galvin, who co-owns the Bookstore Plus, said he was a little surprised about the construction starting so early, but he’s not upset about it.

“Construction is a necessary way for our Main Street to evolve,” he said. “Recently there was construction at the Imagination Station, and we dealt with the Smoke Signals project for a couple of years. We seem to always be surrounded by projects, but it is what it is. We’re capable of communicating with our customers and making it work.”

A temporary crosswalk, dumpsters on the street and the use of cranes on a state highway require permits from the state Department of Transportation, which Northwood has yet to obtain.

The hope is to get this phase done by early July.

However, this piece did raise some concerns among village board members because it would overlap with the start of the summer tourism season and the Lake Placid Horse Shows, which run from June 25 to 30 and July 2 to 7.

Broderick said the goal of the new building is to create a learning center where Northwood students, local students, visitors, business leaders, government leaders and extended education professionals from the surrounding colleges can all come together and take courses such as robotics, engineering or computer-aided design. He said the school would also like to include lecture series on topics such as open-source computer programming or the impact of climate change.

“Our hope, in the end, is that it becomes a center that’s used richly by many,” Broderick said.

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