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Voters’ choices ready to serve Lake Placid

The North Elba Town Hall is the home to the Lake Placid village offices. (Enterprise file photo)

We are happy to add our congratulations to Tuesday’s village election winners and our thanks to all the candidates who put themselves out there to serve their neighbors.

Lake Placid had the only competitive village election in our readership area this year, and it was a big one. As Craig Randall’s 12 years as mayor ended, his position and two trustee seats were up for grabs — a majority of the five-member board. All the board positions were contested, and Lake Placid was blessed to have excellent candidates to choose from. There were no bad options.

Voters chose Art Devlin for mayor and Marc Galvin and Jackie Kelly for trustee. These three ran together on the Teamwork party line, and they bring a great deal of experience to the table, both in government and business. Devlin and Galvin own local businesses (a motel and a bookstore, respectively), and Galvin has been an important advocate to the village for Main Street business interests. Devlin has spent the last 12 years as trustee and the last eight as deputy mayor. Kelly is a member of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board, manages the Lake Placid Conference Center for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority and previously worked in hotel management. All are involved in the community in other ways, too. Their love and commitment to this community are as obvious as their qualifications.

These are people who can be relied upon to make sure things are well managed behind the scenes, but who are also open to public input and not afraid to start new initiatives. The village will be in good hands.

That is good, because while Lake Placid’s overall economy is doing very well, it keeps charging toward the high end, becoming more like the Vails and Whistlers of the world — pushing a lot of people out. Lake Placid’s tourism economy relies on thousands of workers, many of them young, but it keeps getting harder for those people to live here. Older people, too, have a hard time. When Mayor Craig Randall and his wife sold their motel and tried to buy a house in Lake Placid, they found themselves priced out and moved instead to the Champlain Valley town of Peru. When a mayor can’t afford to live here, the village has a big problem.

Those already anchored in Lake Placid don’t always get how critical this is. They know that many people have a hard time finding housing, but they don’t necessarily know any of those people, personally. Also, many homeowners have become part of the lodging industry through internet-based short-term rental services like Airbnb and Expedia Group, so they resist restrictions needed to free up more apartments. Others may complain about rowdy vacation rental customers, but that’s missing the bigger point. Many Lake Placid businesses are hobbling along short-staffed, because they can’t find enough workers within commuting distance. And the generation that grew up in Lake Placid in the last decade — and going forward — mostly can’t afford to settle here, outside of living with their parents.

That was the message of trustee candidate Colin Hayes, a fourth-generation Placidian in his early 20s who spoke passionately and articulately about the need for younger people to have a seat at the table. He got the fewest votes of any candidate, but we hope that doesn’t discourage him. We’ve seen a lot of young candidates over the years, and they usually don’t win the first time around — but if they run again, once more people know them and gain confidence in their commitment, they stand a much better chance. Lake Placid Trustee Jason Leon didn’t win on his first try, when he was in his 20s. While Lake Placid may not have many young voters, it has thousands of young people working and living the majority of their lives here. They are the village’s future, and they should be heard by those making the decisions.

All that concern, however, is only one side of the hill on which Lake Placid finds itself. It also has great things to look forward to. The state of New York is sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into upgrading the Olympic venues to last decades — maybe another century. The World University Games will be a coming-out party for Lake Placid on the global stage. Overhauling Main Street will mean two years of hassle, but also long-lasting infrastructure and a healthier Mirror Lake. People are starting to take action to alleviate the housing crunch. And Lake Placid proved itself to be a more attractive destintion than ever this past year — even without big events, or Canadians. The visitors in that wave will come back, after having fallen in love with the Adirondacks and Lake Placid, and then the border opening and events’ return will open the gates even more. With that flood will come responsibility for protecting the village’s workers, its lower and middle classes, its neighborhoods and its taxpayers. We think the newly elected village board members are up to that challenge, and we thank them for being willing to serve.

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