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Lake Placid mayor responds to criticism on special events

November 17, 2017
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - In a recent letter to the editor to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Charles Walsh of Lake Placid voiced concerns with the Adirondack North Country Global Sports Committee's $300,000 bid to have the 2023 World University Winter Games in Lake Placid.

The committee has also secured Lake Placid as the location for both the 2019 International Children's Games and the 2021 Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships, and is also looking into hosting the Winter Special Olympics in 2021. This leaves some locals, including Walsh, asking, "Do we need this, and who is going to pay for it?"

At one point in the letter, Walsh says Lake Placid's economy is "booming" and having too many events is over-inviting guests and overwhelming locals.

Mayor Craig Randall said he doesn't often hear concerns about Lake Placid having too many events, but does agree that a larger competition such as the Ironman triathlon may leave some residents feeling that the distraction is more than they would prefer to have.

However, Randall said Lake Placid's ongoing events fuel its economy.

"We have a good economy here," Randall said, "I would not say it's a booming economy. I think our restaurants and our hotels and our businesses, being the places that employ people, work very, very hard to keep their facilities engaged and busy. Part of what helps them is the continuing calendar of events."

The Ironman race, an annual event since 1999, paved the way this year for Lake Placid to also host Ironman 70.3, a half-distance version of the triathlon that was a boom to some business and vacation renters and another headache for some locals.

Walsh said issues with the housing market, infrastructure and rising taxes are more important than a new, large sports event, which he believes would only make things worse for residents.

"Residents can barely afford to rent or buy a home, business rents are bordering on prohibitive, traffic and parking are burdensome, our infrastructure is crumbling, our town, village, and school taxes increase yearly, and we want to spend $30 million to make us bigger?!" he wrote.

Randall agrees Lake Placid's events calendar is related to some of the issues Walsh addresses.

"It is true that we have some related issues," he said. "Housing in Lake Placid has become a matter of focus for local governing boards. Both the town and the village are expressing thoughts. I've had some preliminary meetings with some of the county housing people and do believe that you're going to see more attention placed on that."

If the bid is accepted by Universiade, the governing body of the World University Games, then it would give Lake Placid $30 million to fund the event.

Walsh asks, "Why not just spend it on all the projects that the town, village and Olympic Regional Development Authority need and cut out the event middleman?"

The $30 million would be solely for the games and not available for other community use, Randall said.

Walsh says his concerns and the details of the World University Games should be addressed at a public meeting. Randall said there has been two meetings open to the community on the subject, and he doesn't recall seeing Walsh at either forum.

"Some of his questions, I think, were addressed as part of those sessions," Randall said.

Public meeting Monday

On Nov. 14, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism announced that the Adirondack North Country Global Sports Committee and regional officials will host a public meeting and Q&A session regarding the possibility of bringing the World University Games to the Adirondacks in 2023 next week. They will meet from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20 in the North Elba Room on the first floor of the Conference Center at Lake Placid, 2608 Main St.

The committee - comprised of regional communities, elected officials, state Olympic Regional Development Authority and ROOST - are putting together a bid dossier to host the 2023 World University Winter Games. The meeting will include an overview of the Games and what hosting the event would mean for the communities in our region. The committee will also provide an update on the 2019 Winter International Children's Games.

The World University Games is an 11-day, worldwide competition of student athletes. It stages events every two years, and they include summer and winter games. More than 170 national federations from five continents belong to the sports organization. The winter games include alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, hockey, short track speed skating, and snowboarding.



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