Resort owners, please identify yourselves

After five long years, the owners of three motels on Lake Flower can finally get on with their lives — all except David Manning, who, sadly, died two weeks after signing the sale papers for his Lake Side Motel. The motels were bought by a development group that has long planned to tear them down and build the Lake Flower Resort and Spa in their place.

We are happy for Kim Walasky of Lake Flower Inn and Fred and Susan Mueller of Adirondack Motel, but we were disturbed to discover that the ownership of the project is once again being kept secret.

Our reporter Griffin Kelly was talking to project lawyer Matt Norfolk Thursday and asked what he thought was a routine question: whether Lee Pillsbury and Mark Pacala are still the owners of the project. Surprisingly, Norfolk said he couldn’t comment on that.

Also the name of the limited liability corporation that bought the motels is slightly different than the previous one: Instead of Saranac Lake Report LLC, this one is Saranac Lake Resort Owners LLC.

What does this mean? The only thing we can think of is that something has changed on in the project ownership, and it’s being kept from the public.

When Saranac Lake Resort LLC took over this project from another group led by Chris LaBarge in 2015, it initially refused to disclose its owners. The Enterprise strongly editorialized that such secrecy is no way to do business in Saranac Lake. Eventually the company announced that Pillsbury and Pacala were the owners. The two men declined to be interviewed or to engage with Saranac Lakers personally, but it was better than nothing.

And now we have nothing again.

Did any harm come to Pillsbury or Pacala as a result of disclosing their names? We doubt it. So what could an owner of this resort possibly be afraid of? Is it just the tendency of the rich to hold themselves aloof from the general population? If so, they will find a few trustworthy friends here.

Saranac Lake, in case they don’t know, is a small, honest town where people are used to doing business face-to-face. When that doesn’t happen, problems ensue. It’s a town where people know who owns each businesses, even if someone else runs it and the owner doesn’t live here year round.

The greatest thing about Saranac Lake is that this is a community, and you can’t be part of a community if you won’t at least give your name. And if you’re going to shake up local people’s lives, for better and for worse, by building a four-story, 69-foot-tall, 32,000-square-foot hotel right on the water at a busy intersection, you had darn well better not be too chicken to say who you are. We are not necessarily opposed to this resort, as long as it is done right — but owner anonymity is not right. This hotel would be visible from all over town; for its owner to claim invisibility could sow bad faith with the community.

So, whoever is behind Saranac Lake Resort Owners LLC, please identify yourself. Saranac Lakers deserve to know.