Company pitches robotic garage as alternative for Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID — In the wake of last week’s 65-minute public hearing about this village’s use of eminent domain to obtain Adirondack Museum property for a municipal parking garage at the site of the NBT Bank lot, an out-of-state company has reached out recommending an alternative.

All the while, the board of trustees remain steadfast in their desire to put a parking garage at the NBT lot footprint due to the need to meet timelines outlined by the state Department of Transportation. But, members of the board added that they don’t necessarily see a garage at the NBT lot as the only parking solution the village pursues.

Robotic Parking Systems of Clearwater, Florida emailed Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall Wednesday and offered a robotic-based alternative to a conventional concrete ramp garage.

In the email, Robotic Parking Systems’ Business Development Counsel Roger Courtney said he did not have a true sense of the dimensions of where Lake Placid plans to build its lot, but he said he’s interested to know of any height limits and subdivided dimensions of the current NBT Bank municipal lot and the Adirondack Museum’s property.

“Depending on the size and configuration of the museum property, we may be able to design a garage using only the NBT Bank property,” Courtney writes. “We can usually put two to three times the number of spaces in the same cubic volume of a conventional concrete ramp garage, for example.”

Courtney continues to say Robotic Parking Systems could provide a cost estimate for a garage with 250 to 400 spaces, with some parking below grade if desired. The company builds automated parking garages where, they claim, a robotic parking system reduces the space needed for cars by 50-percent and creates more space for design, development and the community.

On March 13 at the public hearing, village engineer Ivan Zdrahal presented renderings of a proposed garage at the NBT Bank lot footprint, which includes the museum’s property at 2476-2478 Main St. The museum property is a narrow, currently vacant lot between the village’s ramp to the upper parking lot and the ADK Outlet, where the Church of the Nazarene, now demolished, stood.

Zdrahal said current plans are for a 250-car covered garage that would feature public restrooms, an elevator and stairs. As a whole, he said the village would gain 80 to 90 parking spaces thanks to the garage, an increase from 371 total spaces to 453. He said the number of spaces on the street would reduce from 92 to 31 as part of the village’s goal to turn Main Street into a more aesthetically-pleasing and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.

Speaking after the public hearing, Randall said the village is currently estimating Zdrahal’s proposed garage to cost between $6-to-8-million.

“Frankly, I can’t come up with a hard price until I can say to an engineer, ‘this is the footprint,'” Randall said March 13.

On Friday, Randall said the village has received some interest from companies who build garages, including a Schenectady firm that worked on the Hampton hotel.

“They built three of them in Saratoga Springs,” Randall said. “We’ve been watching them. They’ve offered our engineers occasional advice.

“(I) went to Saratoga and said, ‘what’s the difference,'” Randall added. “They have shovel-ready flat land in the city they are building on. They don’t have all the design problems that we run into.”

Also speaking Friday, village trustee Peter Holderied said the village hasn’t received much interest from outside companies regarding parking garage ideas, but the village would be open to listening.

“Of course,” Holderied said, “we need all the help we can get.”

Both Randall and Holderied stressed again on Friday that the village fully intends to pursue acquiring the museum property by eminent domain.

“We need to exhaust that opportunity and make sure that either A we have it or B we don’t, and that’s the eminent domain proceeding at the moment,” Randall said.

Both Randall and Holderied also said they see a garage at that location as just a part of a larger solution. They added that the village is accelerating its pursuit of the museum land in order to draft an official parking plan to present to the state DOT in order to not lose Main Street reconstruction grant monies the village has already been awarded and in order to secure more grant funding the village is seeking.

“This is part of that solution,” Randall said. “It’s necessary, if we even did nothing than to acquire that additional strip of land and open it up and level off the whole (hillside), we get a minimum of 50 percent more parking spaces than we have today out there. And those are very, very critical to the Main Street. In order for us to move in with some of the Main Street upgrades we want to do, we’ve got to have a place to put cars. That’s the first priority. We can’t start tearing up Main Street and say, ‘OK, those 90-odd vehicles just have to go somewhere else.’ We have to do something to lead how that’s going to happen.”

“It’s part of the solution,” Holderied said. “We spoke to (Lake Placid business owner) Art Lussi recently, and he’d really like to see development on his (municipal parking lot below the Crowne Plaza) property in terms of a parking facility, potentially. But, we have these time constraints with the Main Street project. We are waiting on — in the next few weeks — two more grants that we may be going for that will push us along to do something. Because DOT is not going to buy in — it’s their road — unless we take cars off the street. …The garage is necessary for the DOT because they won’t allow us to rebuild Main Street unless we remove cars, and we can’t remove cars until we have a place to put them.”