Dec 12, 2013 — The Adirondack Park is divided between three different regional economic development councils -- and yesterday in Albany all three of those groups received extra grant funding from state officials.
Bill Farber is head of the Hamilton County board of supervisors.
"All three Adirondack park regions won - the Mohawk Valley capital, and the North Country regions,” he said. “So I saw that as really, really good news for the park. Obviously I have a somewhat parochial interest in the North Country region, in that Hamilton County’s in that region. It was an exciting day for the Adirondacks.”
Adirondack grants include funding for NYSARC, a program for people with disabilities, in Warren County that will come through the Capital Region council. Also, the Wildlife Conservation Society based in Saranac Lake received funding for a "cycle Adirondacks" bike tour project. Those dollars came through the Mohawk valley regional council.
There was special celebration in Saranac Lake yesterday, at the news that the state awards list inlcuded $7 million for two hotel projects in the village, a commitment that local leaders in the village say will usher in "an epoch of progress and prosperity."
The new owners of the Hotel Saranac received the $5 million they requested to buy and renovate the iconic building in the heart of the village's downtown. Also, developers of a proposed 90-room, upscale resort hotel on Lake Flower received $2 million of the $2.2 million they asked for.
Fred Roedel said the $5 million from the state is crucial toward his company’s overall $13 million plan to restore the hotel.
The hotel was an economic anchor for the downtown and a social hub for the community for decades until the last owners took over. A series of unpopular business decisions the Arora family made – like cutting personnel and later closing the hotel's bar, pub and restaurant – led to friction with local residents, who stopped frequenting the business and stopped sending their visiting family and friends to stay there.
“It has the potential to be the biggest single thing improving the downtown area that we’ve had in years,” he said. “If we get people coming back staying at the hotel, we’ll get the people on the street walking into the shops and all these downtown businesses that have been holding on by their fingernails will start seeing resurgence.”
The Roedels hope to reopen the hotel by 2015, if not sooner.
The other Saranac Lake hotel project awarded funding is led by Chris LaBarge of Malone. It involves construction of a four-story, $18 million hotel on the site of three existing motels on the shore of Lake Flower.
LaBarge the $2 million from the state allows the project to continue to move through the planning process, which involves separate reviews by the village and the Adirondack Park Agency.
"It's a tremendous feeling to know that New York state and the governor have put so much faith, confidence and money into the future of Saranac Lake,” Rabideau said. “What we have at hand is a new epoch of progress and prosperity in the capital of the Adirondacks."
To celebrate, the village shined a pair of large spotlights into the sky Wednesday night from the site of each hotel project.