LAKE GEORGE - The Village of Lake George has been awarded a $2.5 million grant by the state Department of Transportation under the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program. The funds will be used to complete the public park elements of the West Brook Conservation Initiative.
The Lake George Village and Town governments, Warren County, the Lake George Association, the Fund for Lake George and the Lake George Land Conservancy jointly purchased the former Gaslight Village property in 2007 from the Charles Wood Foundation for $4.1 million. The 12.5 acre site, located on both sides of West Brook, will be converted into a public park containing a series of wetlands and infiltrators to capture stormwater runoff from a large watershed in the southern basin of the lake.
The park will consist of walking paths, an extension of the Warren County bike trail, restrooms, a children's play area, fitness trails and interpretive educational areas. The conservation initiatives will dramatically reduce the nutrients and solids reaching the lake that has contributed to a large delta at the foot of West Brook.
The grant funding should complete the financing needed to complete the park, estimated to be about $10.5 million. The local share of the grant will be matched with the acquisition costs and funds raised by private donations to the environmental groups.
A grant from the state Department of Transportation is expected to complete the initiatives on the south side during the reconstruction of state Rte. 9. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will undertake the stormwater work on the north end.
Mayor Blais indicated that the $2.5 million will cover all construction costs to make the property "look like a park." Eligible elements are paths, entranceways, landscaping, trees, benches, lighting, playgrounds, signage and public restrooms. Kiosks, bridges, ramps and overlooks have also been designed into the park area.
The renovation and rehabilitation of the former Cavalcade of Cars building and the Opera House, located inside the festival space, are not eligible for funding under the grant. Federal guidelines prohibit park funding being used unless the facilities are open to the public free of charge and not utilized by private concerns charging for their use.
The festival space is intended to be used to house groups such as Americade, Adirondack National Car Show that charge admission.
The West Brook Conservation Initiative is the largest environmental project ever undertaken to protect the water quality of Lake George, Blais said The project thus far has garnered over $7 million in federal and state funding.
"Next year, after months of planning, pursuing grants and permits the public will begin to see progress in our effort to create this beautiful park," the Mayor said. "It has been a lengthy and sometimes arduous process but in the end will show our resolve in protecting our most valuable asset."