Hochul touts green infrastructure in Lake Placid
During Climate Week, New York’s new governor highlights efforts to protect Mirror Lake from stormwater runoff
LAKE PLACID — New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul, stopped by Lake Placid on Friday afternoon as part of a series of appearances around the state to highlight state-funded environmental projects during Climate Week.
“I didn’t need too much of an excuse to come back here,” said Hochul, who visited the Adirondacks a couple of months ago.
Hochul addressed local government officials and press in the lower municipal parking lot across from NBT bank to highlight the rainwater catchment system that now rests underneath, one piece of the village’s ongoing Main Street overhaul. Though village officials had estimated the project would cost around $10 million, the project is now estimated to cost more than $15.5 million, according to a news release from Hochul’s office
Once the parking lot portion of the project is complete, rainwater runoff will seep into the porous asphalt of the parking lot and into the water catchments, which will hold the runoff until pollutants are leached off. Then, the water will flow into Mirror Lake. Hochul said the Main Street project is more than halfway finished and will be completed in 2022.
Mayor Art Devlin said Friday that the infrastructure project was well-timed because of “the support and the backing of the state, the fact that our water lines were 110 years old (and) pollution in the lake.” Devlin said the village didn’t know how outdated the water system was until they started the project. He said no one knew the locations of shut-off valves and other important mechanisms underground. Now, Devlin said they have a “state-of-the-art” mapping system that identifies these features.
Hochul said other infrastructure projects in Lake Placid include making repairs to, and replacing, more than 2,000 feet of sanitary sewer and water supply lines, along with replacing the old sidewalks with porous ones, like in the NBT parking lot, to help shield Mirror Lake from polluted rainwater runoff.
“Which, I admit, are kinda hard to walk on in heels,” she said, “so next time I’m not gonna wear heels when I come to this parking lot.”
Hochul said Friday’s announcement was part of a larger narrative her administration is writing; she said their goal is to deliver clean energy to communities while also protecting the environment.
Hochul also said she wanted to check on how downtowns are doing as they emerge from the “dark slumber” of COVID. The state mandated mass-industry closures last year in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Hochul said she did “pop up” unnoticed to the Lake Placid area during the pandemic, wearing a baseball hat and making her way to a couple of the local breweries.
“I was really excited to see the vitality even during the pandemic, it was actually quite astounding that people from other states and even our own state discovered what all of you as locals have cherished for a long time,” she said.
Hochul expressed her solidarity with small businesses, describing her background in local government and her memories of watching her mother run a small local florist shop in a town around the size of Lake Placid. She reiterated that she understands the need for balance between protecting the Adirondacks and ensuring economic success.
“It’s about the balance of preserving what mother nature has given us but also making sure we have vibrant downtowns … I want to continue fighting to protect that balance.”
She said doesn’t want to just be signing legislation in Albany, but also getting “on the ground” in places like Lake Placid because that’s how she started — in a local government setting.
“I’m going to support you 1000% because I need you to survive and thrive. This community has to do that, and this is part of the story that I’m telling across the globe — that New York is back,” she said.
And she said she believes that return starts in communities like Lake Placid.
Hochul’s appearance Friday comes after she announced earlier this week that she intends to ask legislative leaders about committing an additional $1 billion to the Environmental Bond Act, a $3 billion proposal set to go before voters in November. Republican lawmakers were quick to pan the idea, with Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, saying the Republican Conference supports “responsible environmental programs” that don’t “bankrupt New York’s hardworking families and businesses.”