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Lake Placid comprehensive plan still in works

June 2, 2014
By MATTHEW TURNER ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid-North Elba comprehensive plan is still in the works, and its public comment period is still open.

The last time the village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba boards met together was on April 9. Led by North Elba Supervisor Robi Politi and Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall, the boards decided against approving the plan, instead pushing back the public comment period in order to have more time to review it.

Soon after that meeting, the town and village boards separately recognized the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission, giving the group official status that will allow it to pursue grants in the future.

After both boards formally discuss the comprehensive plan, a date will be arranged for them to meet again together to vote on the plan.

Politi said the boards will also consider changes to the plan.

"They (the commission) recommend a grant writer; well, we have a grant writer, a county grant writer," Politi said. "I think it would be a double cost to hire somebody. There are just some things they aren't necessarily aware of that are being done."

The commission meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month at the Mirror Lake Beach House. It last met on May 15 to update the comprehensive plan. The next meeting will be on June 12 at 7 p.m.

Some of the topics discussed were using community facilities such as schools, creating a map of suggested bike routes, setting up Internet marketing meetings and improving communication with the state Olympic Regional Development Authority through an advisory council.

Town Councilman Jay Rand and commission board member Julie Ball will set up a meeting with ORDA to discuss that topic. ORDA has made very little public announcement on its future plans after being awarded $6.9 million in this year's state budget for capital improvements, $4.2 million for operating support and $2.5 million from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

"We are moving ahead with some of the items on the plan," Ball said of the comprehensive plan. "Already some things have started to happen."

The commission is attempting to complete some of the easier tasks and work with the village and town on some of the more complicated tasks that will need government approval. Another goal of the commission is to continue to recruit people from within the community.

Ball said at the joint board meeting in April that the conversation was sidetracked by talk of dissolving the village into the town.

"Dissolution is never mentioned in the plan, and I think that distracted the last meeting," Ball said.

Pat Gallagher, a former village board member, is also on the commission.

"There's a lot of strong feelings about dissolution and moving forward with the plan; we didn't want to work on that," Gallagher said. "We wanted to get as much done, as a community, as possible."

Gallagher said it's important to keep the dialogue between the commission and governments going.

"You got to work on those ways to keep the boards talking and making sure everyone is on the same page," he said.

That appears to be happening. Commission members told the Enterprise that both Rand and village Deputy Mayor Art Devlin are attending meetings and are actively involved. Rand is the town's liaison to the commission, and Devlin is the village's liaison.

Other tougher-to-achieve topics in the plan include combining the town and village highway departments with the appointment of one superintendent, collaboration between the Tree Board and the Lake Placid Beautification Association, creating a map of the interconnected trails, a vacation rental permit and redrawing the police jurisdiction line.

The rental permit would require homeowners who rent to vacationers to buy permits first.

Sharing services

Gallagher oversees the government function and structure section of the plan. He said the idea is to pick an area where the town and village can easily combine services.

"Pick a certain part of what you can consolidate, and do it," he said. "There are examples of different communities in the state where people have tried things, and we can use them as examples.

"The town has a highway department; the village has a highway department," he said. "There are things like that you can do as a community."

Dissolution, if it were to happen, would be incremental, Gallagher said.

"If we can start doing our consolidating by the functions of the services government offers, it will come to a point where people say, 'Jeez, we've done everything we can do,' and then it will come to a point where we people can look at (dissolution) and make their mind up."

Gallagher said he agreed with Politi and Randall that the governments do a good job of sharing services already.

Police jurisdiction

Another concept discussed at length at the April joint board meeting was expanding the Lake Placid Police Department's jurisdiction line to include parts of North Elba. Many locals spoke highly of doing it.

"What we're looking at is providing a service to town residents in established water and sewer districts," Gallagher said. "The thought was, if we could keep the police department at the same (employment) level and run the schedule, a workable schedule, that could also include the sewer districts' area in this."

In return for those town taxpayers picking up part of the tab for the police force, they should have their water and sewer rates lowered in compensation, Gallagher explained.

Gallagher said the costs involved for the town and village residents would have to be figured out before this expansion can be pursued.



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