The merry-go-round will be housed in a large pavillion designed to serve as a center for education programs as well as for birthday parties and other events.
As Chris Knight reports, it hasn't been an easy road for the project, which was shelved two years ago because of the recession.
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Wearing pint-sized hard hats, a group of three-, four- and five-year-olds from the Saranac Lake Head Start program dug their toy shovels into the ground Monday afternoon to mark the ceremonial start of construction on the long-awaited Adirondack Carousel.
The carousel or merry go round will be located a short walk from Saranac Lake's downwtown in a children's play park. The site is next to an art gallery and Saranac Lake's train depot, which is currently used for tourist trains that run between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.
The carousel will be open year round and will be housed in a 3,500-square foot pavillion building. It's designed to fuse art, education and entertainment, according to Marge Glowa, who ran the fundraising campaign for the $1 million project. She said the Carousel will also provide a boost to local tourism.
"We anticipate that not only will people in the community be able to use it but, we know it's going to draw a significant number of people coming to see the carousel here in Saranac Lake," Glowa said. "Hopefully they will go through the community and see all the other things we have to offer here."
Monday's groundbreaking ceremony drew a crowd of more than 50 people, including many who had waited years to see this day. None had waited as long as Karen Loffler, who first came up with the idea of locating a carousel in Saranac Lake about 11 years ago.
"I'm just really excited to see all the people here supporting this," Loffler said. "It's great."
Loffler said the project has taken a little longer to complete because of a drop-off in fundraising amid the recesssion. In 2009, at the height of that economic downturn, the Carousel's only two paid employees - its director and another staff member - were laid off, and the project was shelved for a short time.
"We did put it on hold for just a few months to see how things were going to go," Loffler said. "But there was enough passion behind the project to keep it going."
The all volunteer group that took over the project has worked over the past year to close a $200,000 funding gap on the project by securing donations, grants, in-kind services and donated construction materials.
Excavation work at the site will officially begin next week. Organizers expect the Carousel to be in operation sometime next year.