Gateway Project will Double Size of Lake George Business District
The Lake George Town Board on Monday, March 9 adopted a local law designed to reduce a growing number of false fire alarms that cost valuable time and money, and put responders’ lives at risk.
The village recently approved a similar law, which imposes stiff fines and possible jail time for repeat offenders. Last year, Lake George Fire Department dealt with more than a dozen false alarms in less than a month’s time.
The department already has difficulty maintaining full staffing levels. In many instances, such incidents take volunteers away from work.
“Most of these false alarms are coming from condominiums and multi-unit apartment complexes,” town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said. “They aren’t single-family homes. We pass the law. They’re (fire officials) going to enforce it.”
Improper installation, lack of maintenance and low batteries are the most common reasons behind residential false alarms. Many times, firefighters respond to a unit that isn’t occupied and have difficulty contacting the owner to shut the alarm off.
“(This) puts firefighters and EMS personnel at risk and unnecessarily burdens such personnel and the budgets of such organizations,” the law says.
The law requires that alarms must now be equipped with a disabling mechanism that shuts them off automatically after 15 minutes. Also, building owners that don’t live in Lake George must designate a local person that fire officials can contact when alarms go off.
There is no penalty for the first two offenses within a year’s time. After that, fines are $100, $200 and $350 for third, fourth and fifth offenses, respectively, within a 12-month period; plus $100 for each false alarm after five.
Thus who refuse to pay fees may be fined an additional $250 per week for each week the fee goes unpaid, plus up to six months in jail.
For second and third offenses of refusing to pay fees, within a five-year period, the fine is $500 and $750 per week, respectively, plus six months’ jail time.
In other action, private consultant Peter Manning presented a “Smart Growth Assessment Project” report he recently conducted for the town on behalf of the Glens Falls Hospital Health Promotion Center. The study results from a state Department of Health initiative called “Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play.”
The hospital’s Health Promotion Center is the agent for seeing such plans carried out locally. In short, Manning’s report shows ways that town land-use policies can promote healthy living by having features such as bike trails and sidewalks that encourage people to be more active and rely less on cars.
Coincidentally, his report was done while Lake George is in the process of updating its town Comprehensive Plan. He suggested that several recommendations contained in his “healthy living” study be incorporated in the new Comprehensive Plan.
For example, the Comprehensive Plan is expected to contain zoning changes for the $7.6 million “Gateway Project” that’s going to see a nearly mile-long section of Route 9 transformed, from Exit 21 north to the village line, with a boulevard-style median, tree plantings, period lighting, bike lanes and new sidewalks. Work is scheduled to begin this spring and last into 2016.
“We forget, the number one reason for all these things is the health of the people,” Manning said. When the project is done, the length of Lake George’s “Main Street” business district will essentially be doubled in size, promoting bike and pedestrian connectivity all the way from Exit 21 to Exit 22, he said.
The new “Gateway” approach to Lake George and the Adirondacks is a very unique feature for upstate New York communities, Manning said.
“This Gateway Project is phenomenal; top-notch, a showcase,” he said. “You’re very fortunate. That take Gateway Project and put it in your marketing language. Market that and the community as a healthy place to go. That strip is going to be a big part of that.”
The project has also made the town eligible for two types of funding from the hospital’s Health Promotion Center. Some money is available for technical assistance to implement recommendations in Manning’s report.
The town may also obtain money for actual physical improvements such as sidewalk benches and bike racks that will enhance the Gateway Project and encourage its use by pedestrians and cyclists. “You can get these things for your town,” Manning said. “The money has been allotted to you.”
Manning said he’s unsure of the exact amount for each type of funding.
In another matter, the board approved $6,500 in “bed tax” money to support the Lake George American Legion’s annual boat ride fundraiser from May 8-10. Spokesman Dick Gijanto said the Legion contributes to many worth causes in the community through its “Have a Heart Fund,” the longest-running charity in Warren County.
Each year, the program helps 1,500 young people with vision and dental needs; assists less fortunate residents with electric, fuel oil and propane bills; helps fire victims get back on their feet; and provides scholarships to local high school students. “It’s a struggle,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our programs going.”
The town’s contribution will offset the costs of hosting this spring’s cruise boat ride, the Legion’s only fundraiser of the year. “Bed tax” money comes from the county and is distributed by local governments to help groups put on tourist-related activities in their respective communities.
The town board also authorized a $2,500 allotment to the SAVE Lake George Partnership, which is hosting a “Bands for Lake George” event this August, which raises money to prevent the spread of invasive species in Lake George.
Dickinson praised Mayor Robert Blais’s leadership with the SAVE project. It’s hoped that a mandatory boat inspection program, which took effect last year, will spread to other lakes in the Adirondacks to further reduce the threat of invasive species, he said.
The board discussed a number of items in committee reports. They are:
* Councilwoman Nancy Stannard said the Caldwell Lake George Public Library plans to eliminate Monday night hours and implement Saturday hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning in April. Library officials, in a letter to the town, praised town and village workers for helping with a recent frozen pipe problem that caused minor water damage. A public fundraising dinner to support the library is scheduled for Thursday, March 26 at East Cove Restaurant.
* The town court handled 309 cases and received $23,179 in fines last month. The court has received $44,371 in fines so far in 2015.
* The Lake George Association has donated a $6,000 computerized salt spreader to the town that will reduce the amount of salt used on roads, which saves money and lessen salt’s harmful impact on Lake George and its tributaries. Salt loses its effectiveness in extreme cold. However, different types of salt may be used depending on the temperature.
The spreader takes readings that tells highway officials which type of salt to use, which results in more effective applications instead of having it wind up in ditches and woods. The village and town of Bolton have already changed their salt spreading practices to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. The new device will help the town of Lake George achieve similar results, Dickinson said.