SARANAC LAKE - The Adirondack Carousel Board of Directors laid off its two paid employees and put construction of the project on standby, blaming the tough economy and not having enough capital to afford the organization's executive director and public relations liaison.
"The biggest concern was that we not spend down our donors' money," carousel Vice President Rich Kraft said. "We wanted to be responsible for what they've contributed and not put it all toward administrative or employee costs."
"I've known about it for a while," former Executive Director Dylan Rodrigues said. "It's kind of been the handwriting-on-the-wall sort of thing."Rodrigues was brought on as director in April 2007, with Public Relations Liaison Sarah Greenwood being hired a year later. Their office, located above Books and Baskets on Olive Street, will be vacated for cost-saving purposes as well.
Thomas Holzinger, of Roanoke, Ind., laughs as he answers questions about this wooden skunk he carved for the Adirondack Carousel. The skunk and a beaver — two of 13 wooden, Adirondack-native animals finished for the carousel — were unveiled at the Block Party on Aug. 7, 2008 in downtown Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise file photo — Peter Crowley)
Kraft and Rodrigues declined to comment on specific salary expenses.
Plans to build the carousel this summer have also been postponed indefinitely.
"There was no way, even as of this fall, or even earlier, that we would have been able to build (this summer)," Kraft said.
"They're going to re-evaluate as the economy improves," Rodrigues said. "There have been very many donations; that's the unfortunate part. We have had a very good turnout by our donors, but that's just not enough to close the gap."
Kraft emphasized that the organization is still devoted to the project.
"We're not shutting down the operation," he said. "We're really just downsizing to where it will be strictly volunteerism to keep the project going."
Kraft said the contractual agreement between the carousel and the village to build the pavilion in the William Morris Play Park has an expiration date of January 2010.
"We would have to have received enough funds to start the construction by that date," Kraft said. "Basically, we need the money to make it happen and have it happen before next January."
He said that if, in the fall, it doesn't seem to be a possibility, the board of directors would meet with the village to discuss the options.
Last year, the Adirondack Carousel was awarded a $240,000 grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to purchase mechanics and pour the pavilion's foundation, plus $20,000 from the state through Sen. Betty Little; however, those funds, coupled with private donations of more than $300,000, still leave the organization far short of the needed $1.5 million.
"When we started the $1.5 million capital campaign in early 2007, the possibility of bringing this innovative attraction to Saranac Lake next summer seemed possible," Rodrigues said in a press release. "But we know now that the economy has been in a downward spin since then, and it has been much more difficult than we had anticipated to raise the funds."
The carousel has been in the works for more than seven years, begun by Karen Loffler and Chuck Brumley of Saranac Lake, who are no longer directly involved.
The proposed carousel would be placed in a 3,600-square-foot, timber-frame pavilion and include a gallery and community area that could be used for workshops and events, as well as a gift shop. Thirteen of the carousel's 23 planned native Adirondack wildlife figures have been completed.
Rodrigues is a software program manager and said she will most likely have to move out of the area in order to find employment. Despite being laid off by the organization, Rodrigues still supports the organization's purpose.
"I believe the project is a good one, and I hope it comes to fruition," she said. "By downsizing our operations, we hope that the organization can weather the economic storm and we can eventually bring the Adirondack Carousel to Saranac Lake."
She added that donations are still accepted by mail to the organization's post office box number 1059 in Saranac Lake, ZIP code 12983.
Contact Emily Hunkler at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.