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Solve the parking problem now

November 12, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

The question of whether Lake Placid needs more parking spaces on Main Street is not up for debate. It's been the consensus for more than 20 years that additional parking is needed to ease congestion and attract people, not deter them, from visiting the business district.

The real question is, "Does the current village board have the backbone to finally do something about the problem?"

It's time for the village board to tackle Goal 6 in the Mobility section of the Town of North Elba/Village of Lake Placid Comprehensive Plan: "Create a balance of parking that supports economic development but does not detract from the quaint village atmosphere."

The main objective of that goal is to develop a parking plan for the village of Lake Placid, and one of the implementation measures is to consider a centralized location for a parking garage.

Committees and village boards over the years have devised various ways to improve the parking situation on Main Street, and they've made small steps to help, such as increasing the efficiency of trolley operations. But it hasn't been enough.

The big idea that gets proposed over and over is the creation of a parking garage.

It was an issue in the 1993 mayoral race.

When he was mayor in 2001, North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said the village, town and state Olympic Regional Development Authority should work together to build a parking garage in the center of town.

In 2003, the Lussis proposed a parking garage, retail and condominium space in the large town/village parking lot below the Crowne Plaza.

The proposal that gained the most traction from 2005 to 2007 was to build a three-tiered garage in the lots across Main Street from the NBT Bank, creating room for 325 cars, an addition of 200. The proposal included retail space that would offset the cost of construction. The village even paid for a traffic impact study, which concluded that a parking garage at that site was feasible, as far as traffic was concerned. Yet the proposal hinged on buying the adjoining lot, site of the Nazarene Church purchased by the Adirondack Museum.

Before museum officials proposed a new building at the site, a controversial museum/store that was never constructed, they offered a parcel behind the manse to the village for $355,000. Village board members seriously considered buying the back portion of the lot, which would have helped with the parking situation.

Now that property values have rebounded from the 2008 recession, the museum is willing to sell the entire property to the village. They paid $1.3 million, and it is assessed at $1.2 million.

If the village keeps waiting to solve the parking problem on Main Street, the price tag for land and construction of a garage will only increase.

We're glad village board members haven't declined the offer and are currently taking this opportunity to consider purchasing the lot.

There is a growing need for parking as more events have been scheduled to increase tourism. The village either needs to create more parking now or start turning away tourists. A sign stating "Parking lot full. Go somewhere else." is not the message we want to be sending.

Mayor Craig Randall and trustees Art Devlin and Peter Holderied understand how important tourism is to Lake Placid; they own and operate motels/hotels. Trustees Jason Leon and Scott Monroe have lived here long enough to know that parking is one of the biggest issues in the village.

While improving the visitor experience is important, they shouldn't ignore their constituents. Residents, employees and business owners also have a major need for parking: for shopping, entertainment, social and business activities. Many locals are frustrated and avoid Lake Placid during the busy times knowing they won't find parking.

A recent Lake Placid shopping survey found that regional residents provide an opportunity for economic growth in the retail sector. How can we attract them without addressing the parking situation? The survey also found that 68 percent of respondents agreed that less traffic congestion would enhance their shopping experience.

Whether the village buys the Adirondack Museum's lot or not, a parking garage needs to be built on Main Street to accommodate more parking in the middle of town.

It's time to stop passing the buck to the next generation. The current village board must either 1) go on the record and admit that Lake Placid has no parking problem or 2) stand together and make history by solving the parking problem once and for all. Residents, business owners and visitors are all counting on you.



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