Just weeks before the deadline to file votes in opposition to the Business Improvement District planned for Lake George, various signs expressing opinions against the proposal were displayed in storefronts around the village. Courtesy photo
Eleventh-hour opposition to the formation of a Business Improvement District in Lake George village has killed the proposal.
A total of 75 or 51.4 percent of the eligible property owners, or 51.4 percent in the proposed downtown district voted against forming the BID, which would have raised money for streetscape enhancement and promotion of events. The proposal called for a tax rate of 54 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to be paid by commercial property owners within the downtown district.
All members of the Lake George Village Board had endorsed the plan and spoken out in favor of it.
Robert Gregor, who headed up the BID formation committee, said this week he was frustrated over many aspects of the BID planning process, and that recently he had been the target of considerable animosity, including threats to him, his business and his family.
“There’s been dissent and unhappiness through this process,” he said. “There’s been so much hard feelings, that it’s been next to impossible moving the ball forward. There have been great people on both sides of the aisle, but a few people have acted borderline criminal.”
Mayor Robert Blais, who had supported the business district, told the news media Jan. 7, the day after the objection vote count, that he was disappointed. Hours earlier when the vote was still being tallied, he said he under stood the argument of those who viewed the BID proposal as merely an extra tax, although he thought the concept would boost the village’s economy, and BIDs have proven very successful in other municipalities.
“This is the first time that merchants have ever spoke up together, but unfortunately it was negative,” said Blais, who’s been mayor of Lake George since well before Elvis Presley died.
“I hope some good comes out of this effort, and the merchants come up with solutions to work together,” Blais said.
Gregor said that despite the discord and the threats he received, the process of drafting a business district did have positive consequences.
“Niney-five percent of the concepts raised were good ideas, and that’s the silver lining we’ll be taking away from this,” he said. “There’s a whole new level of communication between business owners — they’re now have a conversation — and they need to come together and coalesce .”
Gregor said he supported business owners getting together and pursuing objectives that boost business in the village.
“We need to move forward economically,” he said. “That’s what we all want to accomplish.”