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North Elba LEAF awards over $500K in grants to local organizations

LAKE PLACID — The first-ever round of funding from the town of North Elba’s new Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund (LEAF) is going to 17 organizations hoping to either improve residents’ quality of life, protect the environment, preserve the town’s history or provide relief for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The North Elba Town Council approved a slate of funding recipients during its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 13. Altogether, $560,265 will be disbursed. The authorization comes more than two years after Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO James McKenna first asked the Essex County Board of Supervisors to consider raising the county occupancy tax from 3 to 5% to fund town-level projects. The increase went into effect on June 1, 2020.

The occupancy tax, also known as a “bed tax,” is collected on all hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast and short-term vacation rental stays. Of the 5% tax, 3% of the revenue goes to ROOST, minus a portion that goes to the county for administrative costs. The remaining 2% goes into an enhancement fund that directs money to each of Essex County’s 18 towns for local projects.

The organizations that will receive funding from North Elba are:

– The Essex County Industrial Development Agency, $225,000 for small business relief

– Lake Placid Center for the Arts, $65,000 for a three-week outdoor summer arts festival

– The village of Saranac Lake, $57,700 for phase one of a Baldwin Park redesign

– Lake Placid Elementary School, $50,000 for the purchase of new playground equipment; plus $5,000 for a summer reading program for students grades 6-12 at the Lake Placid Central School District

– Adirondack Land Trust, $38,850 to establish trailhead and improve signage for the Cobble Hill trail

– Lake Placid Community Beautification Association, $30,000 to purchase a truck and water-conserving pots

– Ausable River Association, $16,378 to fund the first year of a five-year funding commitment for regular water quality and biological monitoring of Mirror Lake

– Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society, $15,000 to allow the organization to continue collecting oral stories and photos of the town’s history, plus a digital catalog

– The town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid, $15,000 to consolidate and update the town and village websites

– Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service, $10,000 to build a new accessible bathroom

– Barkeater Trails Alliance, $10,000 to expand its trails program season and for signage on the Jackrabbit Trail

– Mirror Lake Watershed Association, $5,040 for an invasive species study program

– The Lake Placid Rotary Club, $5,000 to construct three bus shelters

– Lake Placid Community Day, $5,000 to purchase a tent for events

– Lake Placid Land Conservancy, $3,746 to purchase trail cameras to monitor wildlife

– Zonta Club of the Adirondacks, $3,551.25 to produce domestic violence assistance posters.