In emergency services planning, village must do what’s best for us

Emergency services is an important conversation for the village of Saranac Lake and I’m thankful the board of trustees have requested community questions regarding a proposed shared services complex planned for the former St. Pius School property at 33 Petrova. Involving the community is a valuable step and emergency services facilities need to be improved. However, it’s important the improvements are done at a size, scale, location and cost that best benefits the village.

The feasibility study currently guiding the project was performed by Wendel Five Bugles and is based on what could fit in the existing St. Pius school building and the wants (not needs) of each department. As proposed now, the existing structure can’t support the weight of vehicles, therefore apparatus bays, holding cells and other facilities would be newly constructed additions to the building, expanding the complex to the size of three Saranac Lake Civic Centers or 4.6 times the size of the Tupper Lake Emergency Services building, which houses all three of its departments.

For this reason, it’s important to ask the village of Saranac Lake to revisit the project from a practical standpoint and perform a study that is based on department needs. Leadership can’t make an educated decision on how to move forward, and with what or where, if it doesn’t seriously analyze the need and start there. It’s how north country families live, and it’s fair to ask our local government to do the same. Especially when there is so much potential to do more for the community than what is currently proposed.

For example, if emergency services can be improved where they currently exist or elsewhere in the heart of the community, it may free up the property at 33 Petrova for expanded housing, which is an immediate, short and long term community need.

Put simply, why not do both? Or at least genuinely try.

For context, a newly proposed housing complex for Lake Placid (“Developers propose new Lake Placid housing, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Oct. 20) is for 60 new apartments and 20 new townhouses on 8.7 acres. The Adirondack Apartments located across the street from 33 Petrova sit on 4.26 acres and consist of 39 apartments. The St. Pius/33 Petrova property, which also the current home of the Hot House, is 13 acres.

Please consider asking our community leadership to work to do what is best for the village as a whole. That will take honest, open discussion with elected leaders focused on gaining all the knowledge possible to make the right needs-based decisions. In also includes talking to major employers, school administrators, business owners, as well as residents.

My personal sense is housing at 33 Petrova would do more for the village as a whole — added tax base, workforce, kids in schools and otherwise — than an emergency complex built to a size and scope based on wants and an existing structure.

As proposed, the project cannot generate revenue, create any non local government jobs, or house a family. It will only cost the community ­­– both for the build and in perpetuity for maintenance of a proposed facility that is out-of-scale for a community where population and school enrollment are both shrinking.

Your voice is important. Please consider joining the conversation.

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Doug Haney is a resident of the village of Saranac Lake.


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