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‘Main Street reimagined’ plan gains momentum

Main Street, Lake Placid, is seen in May in front of the Hotel North Woods, at right. The village board considered a proposal to close the left lane, on the Mirror Lake side, to automobiles and make the other lane one-way coming toward the camera, at least for this July and August amid the COVID-19 pandemic and major construction planned for Main Street. The partial closure would make way for an expanded pedestrian experience to benefit restaurants and retail shops. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — A proposal to shutter one lane of traffic on Main Street and convert it to outdoor seating space for restaurants is gaining momentum within the business community.

With the state Department of Transportation on board, the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees offering its support and some of the details now worked out, the plan could be implemented as soon as July 1, according to town and village officials.

The proposal was first floated last month by Greg Borzilleri, the owner of Mirror Lake Boat Rental. Borzilleri was inspired by the city of Seattle, which decided to close nearly 20 miles of streets to vehicle traffic last month to promote foot and bicycle traffic, as well as comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that New York should strive to come back better rather than returning to normal when the economy reopens.

A survey conducted by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism shows strong support for the temporary change within the business community. Of 61 business owners who responded, 70%, or 43, said they were in favor of the idea.

A second survey conducted by ROOST, this one of residents, indicates that there may be support for the project within the community, too. Of 341 people who responded — the village of Lake Placid had a population of more than 2,500 in the last census — roughly 70% were in favor, according to ROOST Lake Placid Marketing Manager Catherine Ericson.

At a meeting of the Lake Placid Business Association on Tuesday, some concern about safety and demand arose, but the discussion primarily centered around traffic control plans, parking, loading zones and how to help businesses that don’t have outdoor furniture still be able to use the extra space.

The northbound lane of Main Street (toward Saranac Avenue, on the lake side) would be blocked off with large boulders and landscaping, according to Lori Fitzgerald, a member of the association and former marketing manager for the High Peaks Resort. The southbound lane would become northbound, with southbound traffic diverted onto Hillcrest Avenue, through a residential neighborhood, and Wesvalley Road.

Not all of the northbound lane would be completely closed off. Six loading zones would remain open, Fitzgerald said, as would 28 on-street parking spaces. Two loading zones would be blocked off. Eleven new outdoor seating areas would be created.

Not every business owner has the outdoor furniture readily available to participate.

“We’re hoping we can figure out a way to not have an expense for people,” Fitzgerald said. The business association is exploring setting up a borrowing system that would direct unused seating from businesses that aren’t using it to those that need it.

Fitzgerald said there would be little to no infrastructure cost to close off the lane.

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