The Park Has a Theme, and It’s Not Mother Goose
Lake George is the birthplace of theme parks, so it’s fitting that the new park that’s to be built on the site of one of those early parks – Gaslight Village – has a theme, too.
And given the park’s primary function, that of protecting Lake George itself from pollution, it’s also appropriate the theme is a natural one: water.
“If a park is not to be a loose assemblage of component parts, it has to have a theme,” said Howard Fish, a nationally-recognized creator of interpretive exhibits who’s a member of the team designing the park.
“We needed to tell a story that could only be told in Lake George, a story that’s special to this particular community, that’s an expression of Lake George,” said Fish, a former journalist and publisher of Adirondack Life who established his own firm, Points North Communication, in 1999
“This community, the culture of this place, has been shaped by water,” said Fish. “Here, there’s a history of a relationship to water. Our theme is ‘water matters to me personally.’ The park will be about all the ways water impacts life, nature and history. That will be the educational experience people will take home with them.”
According to Jere Tatich, a landscape architect at Elan Planning & Development, the Saratoga firm that assembled the design team, the planners will use the features of the park to interpret that theme.
“The opportunities to tell the stories of the West Brook site are endless,” said Walt Lender, Executive Director of the Lake George Association. “We have a historic wetland area that was filled in a century ago and is now being restored to manage stormwater from Route 9, stormwater that desperately needed to be treated to preserve the lake’s water quality. We have three centuries of human interaction on the property: native peoples, nations at war, colonial settlers, sawmills and early industrialization. This is an exciting opportunity to bring people here and share our stories with the world.”
The new park’s theme emerged from public meetings conducted in Lake George last summer, said Lisa Nagel, the founder of Elan.
Among other things, they interviewed groups of so-called stakeholders: members of local governments, environmental organizations and civic groups.
Residents’ ideas about what the park should look like and the amenities it should contain were solicited at an Open House, held at the Fort William Henry conference center.
“That was a key evening for us,” said Lisa Nagle. “It’s where we got the core ideas that we used in the park’s design.”
Elan and its partners are to be paid $449,863 from a $2.5 million grant awarded to Lake George Village.
According to Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais, however, the costs of constructing the park are likely to exceed that.
The visitors and rest room building alone is likely to cost $375,000, Blais said.
Walt Lender estimated the amount needed to be raised to complete the park to be as much as $3.9 million.
Elan has been authorized to apply for additional grants from New York State to help complete the project.
“If we have to complete the park in stages, that’s what we should do. My philosophy is that we should do it right,” said Blais.