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Thoughts from LP Boatworks

June 27, 2011
Lake Placid News
To the editor:

When Joe Moore and I conceived Placid Boatworks in 2004, we determined to use the greenest technique available, infusion molding, to form our canoes. All fabric layers are placed in the mold dry. After a closed vacuum is applied, resin is catalyzed and pulled through the fabric before setting up. The closed system captures more than 90 percent of the volatile organic compounds, VOCs, that are released into the air when hand lamination, the industry standard, is employed to manufacture boats.

The impasse between Placid Boatworks and the village of Lake Placid is surprising; Placid Boatworks may be the cleanest canoe fabricator in the country.

A hair salon wanted to break its lease to space in the building front on Station Street and suddenly complained of noxious fumes. A home insulation specialist, untrained and unlicensed in chemical analysis, was retained to apply negative pressure to the salon space, pulling scents through the walls from the boatworks.

The test was useless because two fans normally create negative pressure in the boat shop. Airflow is the reverse of the test used. Normal airflow is from the salon into the boat shop and carries any VOCs out a filtered exhaust stack. The village code inspector missed the difference between where negative pressure normally occurs and failed to chemically analyze the fumes. Nonetheless, he issued a stop-work order to Placid Boatworks in mid-December.

Joe Moore, with a master’s degree in environmental science, employed Atlantic Testing Laboratories, a respected, trained and New York state-licensed firm, to test for VOCs while he and his crew infused a boat. The results found VOCs significantly better then federal and NYS standards. Joe forwarded ATL’s report to the village code department, but real science didn’t alter the stop-work order.

DEC inspected the boat shop and asked that the exhaust stack be heightened, which has been done, but noted no other adverse findings. NYS Division of Safety and Health inspected the shop and found no violations. Both reports were forwarded to the village code office. The stop-work order remained in force.

Placid Boatworks has been under a stop-work order for no factual reason for five months, missing half a year of sales and income due to capricious village code enforcement. This is the same LP village code enforcement department that inspected and approved several Fawn Ridge homes later discovered to be well over the APA maximum height regulations. They are coming down; who will pay?

I’ve retired to Saranac Lake, and don’t have a dog in this fight except a fondness for my former partner and the boats we developed together. But the citizens of Lake Placid village cannot be pleased with a code enforcement office that has repeatedly proven to be incompetent and will cost the village dearly in legal fees and judgment for damages in this and other matters.

Charlie Wilson

Saranac Lake


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