$734K for 20 projects

North Elba awards grants to 20 organizations in latest round of LEAF funding

LAKE PLACID — Twenty local organizations in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake were awarded more than $734,000 in grants this week from the North Elba Local Advancement and Enhancement Fund.

The North Elba Town Council approved its fifth round of LEAF grants at its regular board meeting on Tuesday after four members of the LEAF committee presented their recommendations for the 20 nonprofits they believed should receive the funding.

Twelve of the 20 organizations have received LEAF funding in the past. A few LEAF committee members on Tuesday noted these organizations’ timely and appropriate use of their past funding as a plus when LEAF committee members considered the latest round of LEAF applications.

More than $2.7 million in grants have gone out to local organizations through LEAF since the fund’s inception in 2020.

LEAF grant rounds, which are awarded once in the spring and once in the fall, are funded by revenue generated by the county’s 5% occupancy tax — a tax collected on all hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast and short-term vacation rental stays in Essex County. From the 5% tax, about 3% goes to the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and 2% goes into a fund that directs money to each of Essex County’s 18 towns. The county also keeps some of the revenue to pay for administrative costs.


¯ The Adirondack Land Trust received $75,000 to create a new public trailhead for the Cobble Hill trail and a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk for Cobble Hill Mountain. ALT received $38,850 in the first round of LEAF funding in April 2021 to improve signage for the Cobble Hill trail and establish a Cobble Hill trailhead after the Northwood School trailhead closed to the public for security reasons.

LEAF committee members on Tuesday said the ALT’s first round of LEAF funding was used to perform a feasibility study for the new trailhead. As a result of the study, according to committee members, a new trailhead will be constructed on Mirror Lake Drive between the Northwood School entrance and Whitney Road with the help of ALT’s latest LEAF grant.

¯ Adirondack Rail Trail Association got $49,183.61 to install bike racks and portable toilets at the North Elba entrance to the rail trail. ARTA received $25,000 for local marketing in the fourth round of LEAF funding this past November.

¯ Adirondack Research Consortium was awarded $2,500 for educational sessions on climate change and its impact on the Adirondacks.

¯ AdkAction received $22,500 for marketing materials to promote road salt reduction.

¯ Bark Eater Trails Alliance (BETA) was awarded $25,000 to help construct three new mountain biking trails. BETA previously got $7,500 in the third round of LEAF awards for trail improvements to two areas of the Jackrabbit Trail and $10,000 in the first LEAF round to expand its trails program season and signage at the Jackrabbit.

¯ Garden Club of Lake Placid got $15,000 for an overhaul of the “Triangle Garden” at the entrance of the North Elba Horse Show Grounds. This grant will only be awarded after the garden club gets state Department of Transportation approval for the project and commitment from a landscape company to complete the work.

¯ Homestead Development Corporation was awarded its fourth LEAF grant on Tuesday for the Fawn Valley housing development — which, once completed, will have a total of six single-family homes and 16 townhomes — on Wesvalley Road. HDC has been awarded $125,000 in all of the LEAF rounds its gotten funding from except for one, where the nonprofit received $124,975.

¯ Lake Placid Center for the Arts received $4,000 for a new kiln for community pottery classes that will allow pottery projects to be fired in a single day as opposed to multiple days. The LPCA also got $65,000 in the first round of LEAF funding for a three-week outdoor summer arts festival.

¯ The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society was awarded $50,000 to construct an American Disabilities Association-compliant bathroom in its museum, which LEAF committee members expect will receive more traffic from the nearby rail trail in coming years. Committee members said the historical society will have to provide a letter of commitment from a contractor for the bathroom work before receiving the grant.

The historical society also received $15,000 in the first round of LEAF funding for its oral history project and digital catalog, now available online at northelbanarratives.com.

¯ Lake Placid Outing Club received $48,950 to centralize its gear exchange in a building in the Lake Placid Central School District.

¯ Lake Placid Sinfonietta was awarded $5,000 for a new website that would streamline concert schedules and ticket sales.

¯ Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department was given $27,362 to purchase new rescue struts and “jaws of life” equipment. The LPVFD was awarded $20,000 in the third LEAF round to purchase a utility terrain vehicle for rescues on rugged terrain.

¯ North Country Community College Foundation was awarded $45,000 to help purchase two portable shelters for the college’s athletic fields, where Lake Placid’s rugby and lacrosse teams compete in the summer.

¯ New York Ski Educational Foundation got $60,593 to help purchase new ski jumping equipment for youth athletes. NYSEF previously got $20,000 in the third LEAF round to help buy a new van.

¯ Paul Smith’s College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute was awarded $100,000, which will help AWI purchase new lab equipment that will allow scientists to quickly identify whether or not harmful algal blooms — or HABs — are toxic. HABs were found on Mirror Lake this past year, and people were instructed to stay out of the water because scientists weren’t sure whether or not the HABs were toxic to humans and pets.

AWI also got a $25,000 LEAF award this past November for buoys that would aid in a study of shorelines on Lake Placid lake.

¯ Pendragon Theatre received $9,250 to help cover the costs of its summer camps, allowing for camp fees to be lower for people attending. The Pendragon also got a $25,000 LEAF grant in 2022 to expand its summer programming.

¯ St. Agnes School was awarded $23,000 to continue upgrading its heating and cooling systems in the gymnasium and classrooms. St. Agnes got $25,000 for HVAC upgrades in the third round of LEAF funding.

¯ The village of Saranac Lake received $15,000 for an art installation in Prescott Park, next to the Lake Flower boat launch. The village also got $80,000 in the third round of LEAF grants for a matching grant program to assist the Lake Flower Business District with improving the Lake Flower corridor. The village received $57,700 in the first round of LEAF grants for phase one of redesigning Baldwin Park.

¯ The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, located in Saranac Lake, was awarded $25,000 to expand its interactive educational exhibits.

¯ The Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad was awarded $7,000 to help purchase a portable ventilator.

Another 11 grant applications requesting a total of around $620,935 in funding were not recommended for approval by the LEAF committee, either because the projects didn’t “align with LEAF guidelines” or because the projects didn’t impact tourism, according to board documents. However, the town council said it would consider these grants for approval in the future.

A 10-person committee, comprised of representatives from local businesses, schools and organizations, including the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, reviewed each grant submission and presented its recommendations to the Town Council on Tuesday. Councilor Emily Kilburn Politi recused herself from the town’s grant approval. Politi is on the board for the Homestead Development Corporation.

Town Supervisor Derek Doty on Tuesday said he sees LEAF funding rounds getting better with each award cycle. He also applauded the inclusion of first responders and several Saranac Lake organizations — which he believes also serve Lake Placid residents — in this latest round of funding.


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