A pair of Saranac Lake residents told village trustees this week that some downtown properties need sprucing up.
Speaking during the public comment period of Monday night's regular board meeting, Carol Griebsch and Bob Brown said some old, abandoned businesses are becoming eye sores.
Griebsch says some people are buying up properties for a tax write-off and never improving the look of the buildings.
"It gives such a negative impression of a town that is really trying to come back," she said. "We've got some great businesses that have moved in. When you've got the negative impression, it takes such a long time to overcome that."
She asked trustees if they had any recourse for getting property owners to "spruce things up."
In some cases, empty buildings present a safety risk, Griebsch says. She cited a building located next door to Pink on Broadway that features a large, broken window.
Griebsch notes that many of these buildings are owned by people who live well outside the village, places like New York City for instance.
She was joined at the meeting by her neighbor, Bob Brown, who told the board some properties aren't being maintained the way they should be.
"If you have a particular business that's out of business, you have a blank store window that's dirty and not clean and there's nothing put in it, we have some downtown commercial properties that are run down and need some paint and those kinds of things - there ought to be a way maybe for the village to encourage people in the downtown business area, commercial business which would include apartment houses, to improve themselves," Brown said.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau seemed to agree that sprucing up downtown is a good idea.
But he says the village can't approach the situation subjectively.
"It's a very subjective standard and I'd have to defer to our community development director about the law," Rabideau said. "But it's a very subjective standard when you say, 'spruce it up,' you know?"
Brown says the village is starting to look more inviting and more welcoming. He points to a project undertaken by the Saranac Lake Youth Center which placed old bicycles decorated with colorful paint and flowers throughout the greater downtown area.
"We're starting to pick up," he said. "But somehow we've got to encourage and get private commercial owners to take care of things a little better on our Main Street so that we've got the image of Saranac Lake that we expect to have."
He adds that the current board has shown a flare for creative ideas to generate more interest in Saranac Lake.
Rabideau says he and trustees will get together with Jeremy Evans from the Community Development Office to discuss how the village might take action on the suggestions made by Brown and Griebsch.