Organizers described the project as an important step forward in a more-than-two-year effort to make Saranac Lake a center for veteran healing.
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The vacant, eight-bedroom, three-story home on Glenwood Drive would be the first location for Homeward Bound Adirondacks, which was launched two years ago as Patriot Hills at Saranac Lake and has struggled to get off the ground until now.
“Homeward Bound has been given a grant by Garry Trudeau through his foundation to allow Homeward Bound to establish its first operative home,” said Bob Ross, president of Homeward Bound's board of directors. "The intent would be to have a small office and a small retreat center.”
The house had been the home of Dr. Francis Berger Trudeau, the son of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, who made Saranac Lake a center for tuberculosis research and curing, and his family. Ross said Garry Trudeau, a Homeward Bound board member, had a bit of "nostalgia" for his grandfather's home and recalled opening Christmas presents on the living room floor there when he was a boy.
According to Ross, the money from Trudeau's foundation would go toward the purchase of the home. Another $300,000 in renovations is planned.
After struggling with fundraising and its direction over the last two years, Ross said Homeward Bound is picking up steam. He said a "significant" grant from another foundation will be announced in the coming weeks that will pay for a part-time employee and some program activities. "There was an article in April that asked where we were and what's happening," Ross said. "At that point, I indicated the spring and summer would be filled with some changes and some positive activity, and I think we will meet that expectation."
But Homeward Bound’s plan for its first retreat center isn’t without some controversy. Neighboring property owners have raised concerns about a proposed change in zoning that would be needed for the project to move forward. The village board of trustees has asked its planning board for a recommendation on the request.