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Lake Placid mayor talks about infrastructure improvements and other village issues

Art Devlin
Art Devlin/Village of Lake Placid
Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin

In 2021, Lake Placid began a $10 million project to repave and restructure its Main Street, including replacing antiquated water and sewer infrastructure. Mayor Art Devlin says the street project is now 95 percent complete. Devlin discussed that and village issues with WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley.

They're just little spot things, you know, maybe a brick moved here or there in the sidewalk or something. But all in all, mostly it's done. Just fine tuning it. And there were some complaints. You know, I think a lot of people had to relearn how to parallel park, you know, with the bump outs. But the bump outs were really necessary to bring our crosswalks into compliance. And there's a small few that are having trouble with that. But I would say the majority of the people I talk to just tell me how great Main Street looks, how nice it is and how pleasing it is to be on Main Street.

Mayor, I know one of the reasons for the project was to upgrade infrastructure and also as you did that to install stormwater filters to help protect Mirror Lake. Is there any study going on yet that has any data as to whether the new stormwater filters are actually effective at this point?

Yeah. And remember, too, that they're called practice areas or stormwater catchments. They're not there to filter and clean the water before it goes in the lake. They're there to catch the sediments and slow their mitigation into the lake down. And by slow I mean it might take 15 years for the salt to get to the lake instead of instantly. And the person that would have data on that would be Brendan Wiltse. You know, he's a scientist with common sense. I know we were talking to him two weeks ago and I asked him that question and he said yes the data they're getting already is showing an improvement in the lake. And then, of course, the work we did oh, maybe six, seven years ago from the Club Beach all the way over to the Hampton and all that water now is taken away from Mirror Lake. Another small piece of the puzzle is when we finished the sidewalk off from around the Club Beach over to the Club Condos, we put that in in cement instead of bricks. And believe it or not, for some reason, cement sidewalks take half the salt to keep them clean that bricks do. So all of this has to be working. And the proof of it is last year, or last spring I believe it was, Mirror Lake turned over and that's a real healthy sign for a lake. And when it can't turn over it doesn't oxygenate the lake. And when you've got that slurry mix at the bottom the trout can't live there. And when they need to go for cold water in the summer and dive deep they can't and they get trapped in a very small layer.

Mayor Devlin, it seemed like last year you couldn't look at the paper or minutes of a meeting without short term rentals coming up. I haven't heard too much about it lately. Did trustees come up with a solution?

I'm not sure the exact time we put the first vacation rental policy in place. That was about two-and-a-half maybe going on three years now. And that was never meant to be one and done. It was meant to be a starting point. The industry is evolving. And now that we have completed our round two, back in November I think it was, but now the new laws are in place they do seem to be working. You know, there's already a few things that will probably be in the next round of revisions and we're already talking about November starting to think about those so that by the time we're ready for the third level to come out we're ready.

Do you expect major changes?

There's nothing that's on the horizon that's major. But you know every year it's very common for us to take the land code and listen for complaints from the people in the field. This is confusing, we just need a word changed here or there and they're minor revisions. But I would think that probably the same thing is going to happen with the vacation rentals. But at this point it seems like what we did, neither side got what they wanted but both sides got what they could live with and we just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

Mayor Devlin, the rail-trail construction has started. When do you expect to see any sort of benefits from this rail-trail?

Well, my understanding is that by the end of this summer, or this summer season probably into the fall, they're going to have the final surface down between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. They're already starting on that. There's also talk with I believe it's called Open Space institution, which is an arm of the state or the state is using them, and they're going to be looking into a parking lot at the old train stations. On the end where the rail-trail first comes in and that would be a spot where in the summertime you could go and park and in the wintertime it would be a place where snowmobiles that are coming from out of the area could come to that parking lot and park and also just two miles up the track at the firehouse there's a village snowfield. And in the past we've always let snowmobilers put their trailers there and access the rail-trail. The Adirondack Park is Forever Wild and it's not real welcoming for snowmobilers because most of the trails do not allow motorized vehicles. And I believe this is a unique opportunity for snowmobiles to be introduced to the area.

Mayor Devlin, a lot of events coming up during the course of the summer.

Summers are very busy here and that's where 70% of our business really comes from. A lot of people don't realize that but that's our busiest time of the year, middle of June to middle of October. Our venues are really right now amongst the best in the world. You know and that's not boasting. Mount Van Hoevenberg is spectacular, the ski jump, the improvements at the Arena, the improvements at Whiteface. If you look at the last four years about a billion dollars has been invested in our area. And when you think about that, with climate change and things warming up, to invest that kind of money in what people conceive as a winter sports town that's pretty spectacular.

Events coming up in the village include Ironman Lake Placid in July, the Lake Placid and I Love NY Horse shows in late June, a marathon and half-marathon in June, the Wilmington Whiteface 100k and 50k Mountain Bike Race and an Open Sky Music Festival in August.

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