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Saranac Lake Civic Center to get $6M upgrade

Kids compete in an ice skating race in the Saranac Lake Civic Center during the 2018 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

SARANAC LAKE — Empire State Development announced plans for a $6 million upgrade to the Saranac Lake Civic Center on Wednesday, mostly funded by New York state.

The project will be supported by $4.5 million in state Upstate Revitalization Initiative funds through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, according to ESD, the state’s economic development agency. The other $1.5 million is still in the process of being worked out through state funding and local fundraising, according to Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau.

The Civic Center, owned by the local Pee Wee Hockey association, was originally built in the 1970s to support youth hockey. It will undergo interior and exterior improvements, with a planned completion to coincide with the 2023 Winter World University Games, hosted in Lake Placid. The center previously made a hosting commitment for the curling events.

The University Games are expected to serve as a catalyst for private investment, boosted tourism, increased employment and the creation of new business opportunities. While Lake Placid will host the games, neighboring communities like Saranac Lake will host competitive events, supporting a more widespread regional economic impact.

“On behalf of my fellow board members, we are very excited to upgrade the Saranac Lake Civic Center ahead of the 2023 World University Games,” Saranac Lake Civic Center board member Ollie Burgess said. “Thanks in large part to the support from Empire State Development, these renovations will help us to attract future competitions while ensure that we can continue supporting the community and youth sports groups that rely on the rink.”

The primary project will be rink improvements to ensure the ice surface meets world-class competition standards, with additional upgrades to kitchen, locker room facilities and spectator seating. The $6 million capital project includes energy efficiency, fire and safety improvements.

“The improvements to the civic center are the latest in a series of new investments and exciting projects underway in Saranac Lake,” Rabideau said in a press release from ESD. “While we are eager to welcome the World University Games in 2023, we happily invite New Yorkers and visitors alike to explore our community before then to experience all we have to offer.”

“The town is in full support of this project as the Civic Center has served an important role in our community for many years,” Harrietstown town Supervisor Michael Kilroy said. “This investment will undoubtedly benefit Harrietstown, Saranac Lake, and the surrounding region, and we wish everyone involved the best with the planned upgrades.”

The improvements come to better position Saranac Lake to attract future events after the 2023 games, enhancing the regional sports competition infrastructure. The $6 million project coincides with the NCREDC’s strategy of strengthening the region’s global sports brand by attracting international sporting events that would stimulate private investment and job growth and catalyze the renovation of the area’s sports and hospitality facilities.

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