Lake Placid board OKs applying for ‘green infrastructure’ grant

People stand-up paddleboard and kayak around the western shore of Mirror Lake by Mid’s Park in Lake Placid on Memorial Day weekend, 2017. (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

LAKE PLACID — The village board on Monday agreed to collaborate with the Mirror Lake Watershed Association on a grant application that could fund a study of whether new vegetation may be able to cut down on salt contamination in local watersheds.

“The feasibility study would look at both the Lake Placid village and the town of North Elba to see what possibilities there are for green infrastructure improvements as part of their revamping of Main Street,” said Bill Billerman, chairman of the Mirror Lake Watershed Association.

The village is set to move forward with the next phase of its Main Street overhaul out to bid in January. The upcoming project, which is slated to last three years, is designed to further protect Mirror Lake, update drinking water infrastructure and reconstruct the streetscape. The deadline for the grant application is later this month.

“The feasibility study would look at what could be put in alongside their improvements. It would involve some plants, salt-tolerant species,” he said.

The study would also identify where new vegetation could prove most effective in the fight against salt contamination.

Billerman said the Mirror Lake Watershed Association wants to work together with the village and the town to apply for a grant through the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The grant could steer upward of $60,000 toward the study — up to $30,000 in state funding per municipality. A local match of $10,000 would be required from both the village and the town. Billerman said the Syracuse-based engineering firm O’Brien and Gere would be involved in implementing the study.

A representative of the Watershed Association is expected to speak at a meeting of the North Elba Town Board next week with the hope of garnering similar support for a grant application, according to Billerman.

“This is not going to be something that’s a cure-all,” Billerman said of the vegetation. “It’s something that can be used to try to divert and capture some of the salt from the stormwater.”

In the last 40 years or so, road crews have applied nearly 7 million tons of salt on roads within the Adirondack Park, Adirondack Watershed Institute Executive Director Dan Kelting said earlier this year, and that salt is having an effect on roads and bridges, lakes and ponds, residential drinking water wells, home appliances and vehicles.

In late 2018, the Lake Placid News conducted a poll of more than a half-dozen groups, including two state agencies, on what the biggest threats to the Adirondack Park are. Pollution, which includes salt contamination, was ranked third among the five top threats to the Adirondacks.