LAKE GEORGE - A buyout of the Town of Lake George's interest in the Gaslight Village project is likely to be reached in the next several days, Warren County Board of Supervisor Chairman Fred Monroe said late Friday afternoon.
"I am optimistic we have a workable solution," Monroe said, declining to reveal details of the tentative contract. "I think we have the workings of an agreement."
He said there was now "no distance" left in reaching a full agreement between the county and the Village and the environmentalists - who all have sought to tear down the Cavalcade of Cars building - and the Town, which has sought to rehabilitate it into an events center.
"We had an excellent meeting today," Monroe said, noting he will be calling a special full county Board of Supervisors meeting this next week to consider the proposed agreement.
"The full Board of Supervisors must approve it," he said.
The Town of Lake George has also called a special board meeting - for 11 a.m. Friday Sept. 24 in the town center. But this meeting is primarily to approve the demolition of Charlie's Saloon on the Gaslight south parcel and the rest room building on the north plot - permission that McCoy revoked on behalf of his board when the county supervisors voted Sept. 17 for demolishing the Cavalcade building.
McCoy declined to talk about the proposed agreement, and whether he'd be discussing it with his board Friday.
But sources close to the negotiations said this reversal of position on behalf of McCoy indicated the town had indeed reached an agreement with the other municipalities and environmental groups involved in creating the West Brook environmental park on the former Gaslight property.
Peter Bauer of the Lake George Fund said Wednesday this permission is crucial to get the park development project going forward - minutes before he and Walt Lender of the Lake George Association met with McCoy behind closed doors.
Thursday afternoon, a draft of a press release from the Warren County administrator's office surfaced, citing that representatives of the county, the Village of Lake George, the Town and the environmental groups met Friday, and that all believe a purchase agreement is possible.
"The parties will be working on a draft agreement over the next several days, and in view of the belief that an agreement is possible, the Town will hold a special meeting - to discuss a resolution that would allow the demolition of the buildings on the south side and the bathrooms on the north said to go forward immediately," the statement read.
Those involved in the negotiations declined to identify the tentative price of the pending buyout. The Town invested $350,000 in 2008 as their part of the purchase price of the property, to be developed into an environmental park which will include wetlands that purify stormwater that now runs into Lake George.
The three municipalities bought into the project after negotiating near total control over a 2.5 acre festival space, including the option to keep and restore buildings there as event venues. The county and town had planned to rehabilitate Cavalcade into an events center, but the Village backed off after the adjacent Fort William Henry resort, which also has event and convention space, objected to the project.
Fort William Henry's objection was echoed by the Lake George Steamboat Co. and the Lake George Citizen's Group, although 50 or so other businesses signed petitions supporting it. The Lake George Chamber of Commerce had advocated the building's redevelopment, noting that it would boost commerce and create jobs.
Lake George Town Supervisor Frank McCoy had presented two sets of architect's drawings, the latest set last Friday, showing the building with an Adirondack Great Camp facade. He and others envisioned the building hosting drama productions, trade shows and special interest expos - all drawing tourists to the area.
But the county Supervisors didn't even discuss the latest plans on Sept. 17, they voted to demolish the steel-frame structure, one that an engineer said was worth about $750,000 and worthy of saving.
Monroe said Friday afternoon he is looking forward to putting the contentious Gaslight issues to rest.
"It's been a long road," he said. "People have had strongly held beliefs, and I'm happy we've made progress."