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April 14, 2014 - John Stack
There has been what I consider very good economic news recently here in Saranac Lake. The governor has given a total of $7 million dollars towards two local hotel projects. While the remodeling of the Hotel Saranac seems to have received only rave reviews (for many reasons) the project on the shore of Lake Flower has not gotten such unanimous praise.
The project on Lake Flower consists of a 5 story hotel to be built on land now occupied by 3 smaller hotels. This entails tearing down the 3 hotels, and changing the look of that part of Lake Flower forever, some say to the detriment of the town, village and the Adirondacks.
Many of the opponents to the hotel are ones I generally agree with, such as tearing up the train tracks for a multipurpose trail. In an editorial Tuesday, one opponent asked mayor Rabideau to consider asking the governor to ask the state to reallocate the $2 milion dollars to but the hotels, tear them down, build an extension to the park, and use the excess money to make up the loss of real property tax dollars (no mention of the loss of jobs, or employment taxes or sales taxes that also benefit our community). I cannot get behind this proposal.
The governor allocated this money as economic development. If the town wants to extend the park, it should ask that money be granted for that purpose. As a taxpayer, I cannot agree to pay more in taxes, or have my tax dollars spent on the dubious proposal to extend a park that I think is all ready big enough. What would the area gain by this new park? No one new would come because we removed a few hotels (actually, fewer people would be able to come because of the lack of hotel rooms). No new economic engine would be created. And asking the governor to reimburse us for a million dollars of lost tax revenue so we can bulldoze motels to add on open space in Saranac Lake is not one that would ever find a sympathetic ear in Albany.
The author also uses the example of Central Park in NYC as a reason to increase the size of our green space. NYC is 100% urban. VERY little green space. That is not exactly a concern up here. People notice Central Park, and it’s a refuge for many not able to escape the urban jungle. You don’t see mountains and rivers and such. Here, you can’t look in any direction without seeing wide open spaces. Drive a mile in any direction from the proposed site and you are in the midst of thousands of acres of open space. In the time it would take a NYC urbanite just to get from their apartment to Central Park- I would be able to be half way up Baker Mountain. Or to the trailhead for just about any of the Adirondack 6ers.
The people behind these projects are not just successful businessmen; they are successful at multiple hotel/motel projects. They have teams of people running revenue analysis and traffic studies and the like to see if this is a viable project.
I don’t deny there are some drawbacks to the plan – to me, the only possible concern is the actual height of the building and how that might affect the area. I’m not sure, but in looking at the new hotel just built on Mirror Lake Drive in Lake Placid, I don’t see that is the incredible monolithic monster people are purporting this to be. I don’t think its wrong to ask if the developer might scale back the height, but I really don’t think that is a deal breaker. Plus, is the difference between 4 and 5 stories that different? There are also other mitigating methods that could be used – such as having trees put up to soften the impact, and the use of different types of lighting so that the light pollution is also dampened. I feel the need to also address some wild speculation. One objector looked at the word “destination hotel” and jumped to some crazy inferences. I believe he claimed this meant there would probably be wild concerts and parties and pyrotechnic craziness going on. Yes, it may be a ‘destination’ but people don’t come to Saranac Lake for nightly fireworks or loud large scale concerts. There ARE destinations for that – Disney, NYC and Vegas to name a few. Not here. I think Saranac Lake owes it to us to give this project a fair review. Lets settle on the real concerns with the property, and not wild conjecture and unworkable taxpayer funded land grabs.
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