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Silver Bay Will Be First to Seek Waterkeeper’s LID Certification

The leaders of Silver Bay YMCA are the first to seek LID certification from the Lake George Waterkeeper.

LID, as Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky explained at a May 7 conference at the Fort William Henry, is an acronym for Low Impact Development, and the projects that disturb landscapes the least and leave the lake’s water quality undiminished will be LID certified – much as green buildings are LEED certified.

At the conference, Navitsky announced that “Silver Bay will be completing a series of campus improvements over the next 3 to 5 years with LID criteria at the forefront of planning and design, and we anticipate that it will be the flagship example of LID Certification on Lake George.”

Last week, Silver Bay’s acting co-director Paul Folkemer and Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, met with us on the porch of the Silver Bay Inn to discuss their collaboration.

“One of the pillars of the YMCA is social responsibility, and given who we are and where we are, it’s our social responsibility to be good stewards of the lake,” said Folkemer. “We’re here, working to improve water quality, and the LID program is focused on water quality. We share a vision of what a project like this should look like. It makes sense to move forward together.”

“As Paul says, Silver Bay is the first out of the box; it’s catalyzing the implementation of this program. Silver Bay will demonstrate the program’s power to protect the lake,” said Eric Siy.

As a practical matter, Siy said,  “a project of Silver Bay’s size gives us the ability to ground truth our score card, to make certain that our criteria for points correspond to what is done in the field. We also want to export this program beyond the Lake George basin. Because Silver Bay has an established presence, both nationally and internationally, the LID certification program will have a chance to connect and resonate with people far beyond our shores.”

And the people who come from all parts of the nation and the globe to Silver Bay will learn more about The Fund and activities like its collaboration with RPI and IBM in the Jefferson Project, said Folkemer.

“We’ll host a series of presentations by The Fund, including a screening on August 12 of the new short film about the Jefferson Project,” said Folkemer. “There’s definitely going to be some cross fertilization.”

For its part, Silver Bay will receive the benefits of both the Waterkeeper’s engineering expertise and its access to funding resources.

“We have major issues with storm water; we have to manage it closer to its sources and slow it down as flows from the hill. Low Impact Development strategies provide a guide for doing it the right way, without any impact on Lake George,” said Folkemer.

According to Folkemer, the Silver Bay project includes the construction of the first significant addition to the Inn since the 1920s. The two-story building will be large enough to accommodate 22 new guest rooms and bathrooms, a new dining hall, kitchens and conference rooms.

Silver Bay’s Paul Folkemer and The Fund for Lake George’s Eric Siy.

Before construction, which is scheduled to start in the autumn of 2017, Silver Bay will build a new parking lot and a new wastewater treatment plant.

“The new wastewater system will accommodate the campus’ expansion, said Folkemer.

“By constructing a new system to manage the waste generated by the inn, the kitchens and the laundry, we’ll extend the life of the existing system,” he said.

“Silver Bay’s leaders recognize that any upgrades have to incorporate an environmental aspect,” said Chris Navitsky. “The wastewater treatment plant is out of date. It was built in the 1930s, although the collection system has been upgraded in recent years. The system hasn’t experienced any failures; though it’s stressed during the summer months, it has down time in the off-season. Nevertheless, we’ve monitored the shoreline and have observed more algae than in the past.”

The new plant will be constructed in the vicinity of a parking lot that will be relocated up the hill.

Lisa Nagel, whose planning firm designed both the festival space and the conservation park in Lake George, has recommended the use of grass pavers on playing fields and parking lots, said Folkemer. Those pavers can accommodate intense use while, at the same time, filtering stormwater, he explained.

Gravel or porous asphalt, both of which treat storm water, will also be considered.

“It’s a question of what funding will be available,” said Folkemer.

Silver Bay is constructing the year-round, self-contained conference center with an eye to the future, Folkemer explained.

“Silver Bay has a history as a resort for ministers and missionaries, and the last thing we would want to do is price ourselves outside the range of today’s families,” said Folkemer. “But for our hospitality business to be sustainable, and to keep Silver Bay affordable, we need to attract more conferences and groups in the shoulder seasons. The new Silver Bay Center, with year-round dining, lodging and meeting facilities, would enable us to do that.”

And with the hospitality business sustaining itself, Silver Bay will be in a stronger position to fulfill its mission, renewing, refreshing and nurturing the mind, body and spirit.