Officials prepare for closing of Main Street during FISU Games
LAKE PLACID — A portion of Main Street in the village of Lake Placid will not be accessible by car for 10 days during the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games in January.
The Games will be held from Jan. 12 to 22, and during that time, Main Street will be closed to vehicle access from Saranac Avenue to the Grand Adirondack Hotel — barring a window for deliveries between 2 to 6 a.m. each day. People will still be able to drive down Saranac Avenue and make a left onto Mirror Lake Drive.
The upper NBT lot, which has 115 spaces, will remain open for parking to people who live and work on Main Street. A 24-hour shuttle will also be available at the North Elba Show Grounds — and possibly other locations that are closer to Main Street — for people who need transportation to Main Street during the Games.
Lake Placid Police Chief Chuck Dobson outlined the Main Street closure at a meeting about the 2023 Games on Monday, Oct. 3. Along with officials from the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, Adirondack Sports Council and Eventus Outdoors — a festival-planning company hired to coordinate a festival on Main Street during the Games — around 30 people attended the meeting, many of them business owners on Main Street. Some business owners voiced concerns about the limited number of parking spaces that will be available for employees, with some saying the limitation could put more pressure on their already tight staffing situations.
There will also be some “soft closure” areas on Main Street that would only be accessible with a “vehicle access pass.” Dobson said a map of where the Main Street closures will be isn’t available to the public yet — he said the state Department of Transportation has to approve the closure and detour plan before a map can be released.
Essex County shuttles and transportation services will continue to run alongside shuttle services from the show grounds, according to Dobson. Essex County operates the free Placid Xprss and Mountain Valley shuttles that run through Lake Placid.
Dobson said that the Lake Placid Police Department started talking with the New York State Police, the state Division of Homeland Security and the Adirondack Sports Council about security during the Games back in 2019. With people coming to Lake Placid from all over the world, Dobson said, “We knew we had to take a look at Main Street’s role in the Games and how we’d secure it.” He said that keeping cars away from high pedestrian traffic areas and finding a place for transportation drop-offs and pick-ups motivated the decision to close Main Street.
Dobson said that along with a “hard closure” area that’s completely inaccessible by car — the stretch of Main Street from Saranac Avenue to the Grand Adirondack Hotel — there will be “soft closure” areas that will “roughly” run from the Grand Adirondack Hotel south to where Main Street intersects with Mirror Lake Drive. Dobson said the village will put up a “ridiculous amount” of detour signs surrounding the closures so that people will have plenty of opportunities to reroute their drive before hitting a closure.
Dobson said anyone who needs vehicle access passes for the soft closure areas, which includes residents who live in or near the soft closure areas or businesses near those areas, will be able to get a pass. However, the process for getting a vehicle access pass hasn’t been set up yet. The Adirondack Sports Council will be in charge of distributing the passes, Dobson said, not the village police department.
The Upper NBT lot, which has 115 number of spaces, will be the only parking lot open to the public from Jan. 12 to 22. The main municipal lot near the Olympic Center will be used exclusively for shuttle buses and delivery vehicles.
The only way to access the upper NBT lot during the Games will be from Marcy Road. While some people attending the Oct. 3 meeting were concerned about how “treacherous” that road can become in winter weather conditions, Dobson said the village would maintain the road with “special attention” during the Games.
Mary Fry, the owner of Adirondack Popcorn Co., expressed concern that the limited parking in the upper NBT lot would deter her already small staff from coming in to work during the Games. ROOST Chief Operating Officer Mary Jane Lawrence floated the idea that each Main Street business could get a few parking passes for their employees to park in another nearby lot. Officials said they’re open to thinking “outside the box” when it comes to parking.
The Adirondack Sports Council, along with Eventus, is planning a Main Street festival during the Games that would include warming huts, live music and activities throughout Main Street, and the organizations are encouraging business owners to shift their hours so they’re open during the busiest times of the festival — generally, from 1 to 9 p.m. But Fry said that the limited parking for employees in the upper NBT lot could prevent local businesses from having open hours at night and contributing to the festival “atmosphere.”
“It’s not going to benefit Main Street if we can’t get our employees to work,” she said. “That’s a big concern. They won’t come (to work) if it takes more than an hour to get here.”
Once the NBT lot fills up, Dobson said that locals who need parking would have to park at the show grounds, where people would have to take a shuttle to Main Street. However, after some deliberation in the meeting, local officials said they wanted to consider parking areas closer to Main Street — like the train station — as secondary options, too. Shuttling services will run 24 hours a day, according to Dobson.
Dobson noted that three to four spaces in the upper NBT lot would be reserved for small delivery vehicles like UPS trucks, and people were concerned that those reservations would take away from the already limited number of spots there for residents and Main Street workers. When asked if he knew how many parking spots were needed for local workers and residents on Main Street, Dobson said the only gauge for determining that need is the number of parking permits the village police department has issued.
“It definitely exceeds the number of spaces that we have in the upper NBT lot,” Dobson said.
Main Street festival
At the start of the Oct. 3 meeting, Eventus employees said that the six to eight warming huts that will be located throughout Main Street could possibly have vendors inside. One Eventus employee gave an example that Smoke Signals could partner with an Irish whiskey company to sell their fare and libations in one of the huts. Local business owners were worried that outside vendors like the Irish whiskey company would compete with businesses on Main Street.
After discussing the different ways the huts could be used, local officials said they heard local business owners’ concerns about competition and ultimately decided the warming huts would best benefit Main Street businesses if they were simply used as places people could go to warm up in the winter weather — not as places for selling or giving items away for free.
Business owners also asked about the possibility of selling their products on the sidewalks outside of their Main Street stores and suspending the open container law that prevents people from drinking alcoholic beverages on Main Street. Officials said that both of these possibilities would have to go before the village board. Village Trustee Jackie Kelly, who attended the Oct. 3 meeting, said the village would have to approve sidewalk vending along with the general festival concept plan. She declined to comment on the village’s stance on suspending open container laws.
Michelle Preston, the festival village coordinator for the Games, encouraged people to contact her regarding festival activities and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.