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Tourism initiatives for 2013

Saranac Lake 2013 State of the Village Report, part 4 of 5

January 24, 2013
By Clyde Rabideau - Mayor , Saranac Lake

-The village board will consider the proposal for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism to provide tourism marketing services for the village. Trustees Barbara Rice and Paul Van Cott have worked with ROOST, other municipal officials and local business owners to develop the proposal. I intend to meet with ROOST's director, Jim McKenna, concerning the proposal and have other questions about the proposal that I will be discussing with board members.

-Village trustees Rice and Van Cott, along with the community development director, will continue to work with the Tourism Council to coordinate events and to promote tourism marketing of the Saranac Lake area.

-Expand interconnecting trail system within the village and adjoining towns. The village and volunteers are completing a system of recreational trails on Mount Pisgah, and much of the trail work has been completed on Dewey Mountain. Our ultimate goal is to link the village and surrounding communities by hiking, biking and skiing trails, including a connection between Mount Pisgah and Dewey Mountain. Full build-out will take years, but our interim goal is to get from Mount Pisgah to the Jackrabbit Trail (the railroad corridor). In 2013, we will acquire another easement to help get us there. With village resources and help from volunteers, we will also complete the trails systems on Mount Pisgah in 2013.

-Enhanced recreational access to the Saranac Lake Wild Forest is one of the keys to making Saranac Lake a premier tourist destination. In 2012, the village brought together a meeting with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the towns of North Elba and Harrietstown, and mountain-biking advocates to support trail development in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest. The village board (with the exception of Trustee Van Cott, who was recused) passed a resolution calling on DEC to include the trails in its unit management plan for the wild forest and to complete the plan in 2013. DEC has indicated that it hopes to bring the draft plan forward to the public and the APA in 2013. We will vigorously support inclusion of the trails in the plan and conclusion of the process in 2013.

-Gov. Cuomo walked into the Adirondack Daily Enterprise building recently and challenged us: "Come up with an 'anchor event' for your village," he said. "Re-introduce people to the Adirondacks," he told us later in his State of the State message. So let's do it. We already have the Winter Carnival for the winter. Now let us get an anchor event of the same magnitude for July, when kids are out of school, and parents and Saranac Lakers moved away have vacation time. Let Saranac Lake lead the way for re-introducing New York and the rest of the nation to our 6-million-acre wonderland. (Lead: Mayor Rabideau)

-The village is submitting a grant application for developing a plan to grow our arts community, which draws tourists to our downtown throughout the summer and particularly for Art Walks. If this grant is approved, we will work with local artists and others to develop a plan for maximizing the impact of our arts community in making Saranac Lake a tourist destination.

-Renewing the beach on Lake Flower would be a definite tourist draw. Trustees Van Cott and Allie Pelletieri have supported inclusion of a proposal for the return of the Lake Flower beach in the comprehensive plan update. Trustee Van Cott met with local supporters of the beach in the fall, advising them that his meetings with involved regulatory agencies (DEC and Department of Health) did not reveal any deal-breaker issues and that the agencies would work with the village. The next step in this process is to do a feasibility study to examine the costs and issues associated with developing a beach, and to do some soil sampling in the area where the beach would be located to make sure there is no contamination that would need to be cleaned up before a beach should be built. The beach supporters have started raising money for this study. Let's get it done in 2013!

-LODA (Leverage Our Downtown Assets) program: Village staff, I and board members (led by Barbara Rice) joined together with downtown merchants to make downtown a happening place with movie nights, sidewalk sales and regular merchant meetings. We instituted an Adirondack Ambassador program to meet tourists on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. In the coming year we will enhance LODA and will try to add a bicycle rental program at the train station that may be expanded in the coming years.

-Gov. Andrew Cuomo: He loves Saranac Lake, and the other mayors across the state are envious. Let's get him to Winter Carnival, and let's make sure he feels at home in "our" capital and has a peaceful and enjoyable time in our village without a lot of bother. He is a dear friend to our village. (Lead: Mayor Rabideau)

-The Adirondack Challenge: This is a new event created by Gov. Cuomo, and Saranac Lake will enter a team of "government employees," per his request. Saranac Lakers can paddle, and paddle we will in 2013. (Lead: Mayor Rabideau)

-Bilingual sign initiative: In 2012, the village board passed a resolution advocating and directing our signage to be in two languages, English and French, so that we are more welcoming to the 4 million francophones who live within two hours of our town. We will begin the bilingual signage this year.

-When tourists come to Saranac Lake, we need to do better at telling them where to go - and how to get there. We will begin implementation of the way-finding plan in 2013, and did we mention the signage would be bilingual?

-Francophone marketing: We will start an aggressive Facebook and Internet marketing campaign in Quebec and tell our story, en francais, to the millions of potential tourists and friends just a short drive away so they will come and visit. We will also invite Quebec elected and appointed officials to visit our village.

-Daffest: This event fills a void in a "shoulder season" and also produces great beauty with the more than 30,000 sprouting daffodils each spring. We will once again assist Daffest and invite national personality (and close friend of the governor) Sandra Lee to grace this event.

-Recreational fields support our place as a tourist destination for events such as the rugby tournament. We will use the recent grant awarded to make progress on the goal of converting the landfill into a recreational field. We will also pursue other opportunities, already under discussion, for development of recreational fields.

-Trustee Van Cott will participate fully in the efforts of the Saranac Lake Local Development Corporation's Tourism Committee to achieve its 2013 goals for making Saranac Lake a tourist destination.



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