It's interesting that most of the public commentary on the proposed Lake Flower hotel project has been negative. I find this puzzling given the tremendous economic benefit this business will bring to our area, an area desperate for commerce and jobs.
The new hotel will provide administrative and management positions for food and beverage, general manager, inn keeper, executive housekeeper, building engineer, marketing and events. In addition, paychecks will go to laundry workers, maintenance staff, housekeepers and wait staff. Of course the hotel will require a tremendous amount of ancillary services and goods which can be provided by local businesses. This represents a significant ongoing infusion into our local economy.
The hotel will have meeting space for 250 with 90 rooms, so in theory, an event drawing 250 people from around the country would fill an additional 160 rooms in other area hotels. That means tables filled in restaurants and money spent at local businesses from art galleries to gas stations, guide services to souvenir shops and pharmacies to antique dealers. Every business and individual in our area will benefit to some extent, directly or indirectly, from the commerce this new hotel will generate. Revenue generated in the form of sales taxes and property taxes from this business will significantly boost funding for public projects and help reduce the tax burden on the rest of us.
There are those who wonder how the rooms in this new hotel can be filled. Just recently a large professional group preferred Saranac Lake as their meeting destination but chose another location instead as we could not accommodate them here. I am not acquainted with either the Lake Flower or Hotel Saranac developers, but given their extensive and successful backgrounds in hotel development, I expect they would quickly work together marketing to large business and professional organizations to bring major events to Saranac Lake. With effective marketing, both new hotels can enjoy a very high occupancy rate year round from tourists in summer and winter, and professional and business groups in the offseason. All local businesses and residents can enjoy the benefits of an increase in outside money boosting our local economy.
There are those who feel the Lake Flower property should be made into a park at taxpayer expense. I don't know why. We have 6 million acres of underutilized park now. The more formal Riverside Park sees intermittent use at the band shell and boat launch, but the rest of the park, while attractive to look at, gets only sparse use. So why would we need another park which, contrary to publicly stated suggestions, would ultimately be a further financial burden to taxpayers?
As for increased traffic, from my perspective, that's a good problem to have. More traffic means more outside dollars spent in our community. The traffic situation can easily be dealt with by installing a couple of strategically placed traffic lights, which are actually needed right now. Considering the type of clientele both new hotels are likely to bring and the newly expanded air service to our area, a certain percentage of travelers will most likely use commercial carrier to get here and shared public local transportation rather than private cars. When both hotels are operational, a public trolley between the two, with a loop which could include the carousel and a few other attractions, would be a good investment.
Right now when one drives down Lake Flower Avenue, passing the three lodging facilities which will be replaced, there is no view of Lake Flower. With the new facility, the only loss of view, which would probably be minimal, will be from the lower elevations across the street. This is a small trade-off for the financial benefit the hotel will bring.
As for pollution in Lake Flower and environs I believe the new hotel will have a positive effect. I don't know anything about the heating and plumbing systems in the current buildings on that location, but I doubt they meet the high-efficiency low-emission standards used in new construction. As for parking lot pollution of the lake, it appears most parking will be set back much farther from the shore than it is now.
The Lake Flower hotel project and Hotel Saranac project together will create a significant economic engine which will generate a market and opportunities for new businesses and expansion of existing businesses. All of this means new jobs and economic growth. We are very fortunate that these entrepreneurs have the foresight to realize the potential for our area and are willing to invest in our community. In our own best interest, let's do all we can as municipalities, businesses and individuals to support them.
Dick George lives in Bloomingdale.