2011 was a positive year for our village, as attested in yesterday's "report card" which confirmed attainment of most our goals and initiatives. Foremost among them: the retention of Trudeau Institute and gaining two new biotech companies in our downtown.
Additionally, our village weathered historic spring flooding which caused tremendous damage and, in a constructive way, uniquely brought together our community and its resources, creating and strengthening bonds that will produce dividends for many years to come.
The 2011 state prison closure commission also saw fit to leave Adirondack Correctional Facility in place, a profound relief to many.
The decennial census brought even more good news, telling us that our population increased by 7.2 percent to 5,406 persons, while most other Adirondack communities lost population.
Gov. Cuomo and his nationally prominent girlfriend, Sandra Lee, proclaimed Saranac Lake as their favorite getaway destination, with Lee naming SL as one of her "two favorite places in the world," the other being the Italian Island of Capri. This declaration garnered statewide attention and an article in The New York Times.
And speaking of world rankings, our very own Winter Carnival scored second position among 10 other winter celebrations around the globe, according to National Geographic Traveler magazine. A stunning and colorful photograph of the Carnival fireworks finale, by Mark Kurtz, was featured in the story and in a prior issue.
Over my 12 years as a mayor, one of my favorite times was the weekend of Oct. 29 and 30, 2011. I started the first day attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Community Store - a free-market enterprise in which 600 local residents invested their own money - that was heavily covered by local media and a New York Times feature article. I next visited BluSeed Studios and got involved in a very unique community mapping project. Later that evening, I attended a ribbon cutting at Mount Pisgah, where we celebrated the opening of a new chairlift, financed in large part by the volunteer efforts of the many friends of Mount Pisgah. The next day was again extraordinary as I joined 180 other neighbors on that brisk early Sunday morning in helping Mark Coleman move his Ampersound store by lining up over two village blocks and moving his inventory and equipment piece by piece in a "bucket brigade." The sense of community and goodwill I and so many others experienced those two days will always be cherished.
At the close of 2011, village staff was packing up and readying their move to the second floor of the Harrietstown Town Hall, a move completed as of this writing that is yet another step into Saranac Lake's future.
By all accounts, 2011 was a year of success, and it is OK and appropriate to say so and to celebrate it. In fact, successful leaders and coaches will tell you that celebration of a victory is a team-building necessity, though musing over and resting upon achievements for too long is dangerous. Notwithstanding, a solid foundation was laid, upon which to build. And build we shall; from sidewalks to water lines to biotech buildings, Saranac Lake will build and rebuild in 2012 like never before. We will grow and finish what was started in 2011 so we can compete for more jobs and a sustainable community, as we still have a long way to go.
In tomorrow's Part III, the final report segment, we will outline our agenda for 2012, understanding that the major challenges of limited government and private funding, dwindling state employment and ever-increasing competition for jobs and tourism dollars still face us.
Our infrastructure remains a primary concern, as is the completion of our many capital projects.
As we march resolutely into 2012, I again express my appreciation for my fellow members of the Board of Trustees: Jeff Branch, Tom Catillaz, John McEneany and Allie Pelletieri. Though we have disagreed on some major issues, we always agree to do what is best for Saranac Lake.