LAKE PLACID - The village of Lake Placid will receive more than $1 million from the state for dam removal and river restoration, part of a major sewer project slated to start in the spring. The money was granted through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
Meanwhile, the town of North Elba and village of Saranac Lake will share about $463,000 for athletic fields and comprehensive plan preparation, and the town of Wilmington will receive about $250,000 for waterfront improvement projects and hamlet expansion planning.
"This was the happiest piece of news I got today," village Mayor Craig Randall told the Enterprise Thursday night. "I'm absolutely thrilled because this helps to relieve some of the burden of cost of that project on some of the folks that use our utilities.
"It moves the village along a path for more environmental improvements."
Village Trustee Jason Leon said the award will "tremendously reduce" the trunk sewer project's cost.
"I think it's amazing news," Leon said. "It's certainly a win for Lake Placid."
The village will receive a total of $1,012,006. The funds will be used to remove a dam below Power Pond and restore the Chubb River to its original state. That work is integral to the installation of a new, 27-inch trunk sewer line. If the village left the dam in place, it would need to undertake costly repairs to it.
The Chubb River project includes restoration of about 1,200 feet of natural stream bed and riparian buffers, as well as the construction of nearly 1 acre of new wetlands.
"The project will restore habitat, improve, and protect water quality in conjunction with the Village's replacement of an aged trunk sewer system," a press release issued by state Sen. Betty Little's office said.
Randall said the village submitted a consolidated funding application to the state's Green Innovation Grant Program in August. He said he wasn't expecting to get the grant.
Earlier this month, the village moved forward with plans to secure low-interest loans up of to $4.8 million through the state Environmental Facilities Corporation to pay for the sewer project. The funding awarded on Wednesday reduces the amount of borrowing to about $3.8 million, Randall said.
North Elba projects
The town of North Elba teamed up with the village of Saranac Lake on a successful consolidated funding application. The joint effort resulted in an award of $463,200 for comprehensive plan preparation.
The press release from Little's office said the town and village "will develop a plan to address a number of key issues including: parking and vehicular circulation; worker housing; diversification of economic activities; and marketing of the region.
"It will also develop multi-use recreational sites on capped landfills in close proximity to their downtowns as a mode of infill recreational development for these communities in the North Country," the release said.
The capped landfills are located off Recycle Circle Lane in Lake Placid and at Saranac Lake's former landfill near Payeville Lane. North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi said they will be turned into sports fields fields to be used by the community, as well as the United States Olympic Committee for visiting athletes.
"The town would not have been able to afford the athletic fields without this money," Politi said.
Politi credited Garrett Dague of Essex County's Community Resources Office for helping the municipalities develop the grant application.
"The area that used to be landfill, that's been capped for several decades," Politi said. "We're trying to reclaim that area that was capped for a new use with these fields."
Dean Dietrich, who leads the Community Development Board, said the grant funds will allow his group to reimburse North Elba and the village of Lake Placid for money they spent to develop a joint comprehensive plan. The municipalities chipped in $12,500 each earlier this year.
"This is a great surprise," Dietrich said. "I had heard that we had been denied; this is a wonderful Christmas present."
Wilmington will get $251,150 for waterfront parks improvements and the preparation of a "sustainable hamlet expansion plan," according to the release.
"The Town of Wilmington will construct improvements to three waterfront parks: Lake Everest Park; Heritage Park; and a small pocket park on the north side of the historic Route 86 bridge," Little's release said. "The Town will also develop a hamlet expansion plan in order to promote sustainable economic development while protecting natural resources and preventing sprawl-type development."