LAKE GEORGE - As Warren County and local officials negotiated the buyout of the town of Lake George's interest in the Gaslight Village/West Brook Environmental Park project, it was agreed the village government would take over management of the 2.5-acre festival space which is now to be devoid of the Cavalcade of Cars building.
In the negotiations, mayor Robert M. Blais proposed the village oversee the park maintenance and promote its use for events, an idea which was accepted by the county.
Last week, the county approved in concept a plan which would double the village's 19 percent stake to 38 percent in the West Brook Park and festival space after it took over the town government's 19 percent share.
For years, the village has utilized its parks, parking lots and streets to accommodate a variety of events and promote new ones. Annually, Americade, Adirondack Nationals Car Show, Eastern States Tow Truck Show, Lake George Area boat dealers, three craft shows and several music festivals are among those that regularly use village properties.
Blais told county supervisors he anticipates revenues from renting the festival space will initially cover the county's and village's cost of maintaining the park, estimated to be about $33,000 annually.
Town officials endorsed a buyout of their share of the project for $210,000 because they have estimated the project will not generate revenue to meet expenses after the main selling point of the space, the Cavalcade of Cars building, is torn down and replaced with 18 grassy parking spaces.
Tourism experts publicly said they were enthusiastic about marketing the festival space, which is now to be a field. Privately, they said marketing an event venue on the space would generate more revenue and bring more economic activity into the village.
Blais said the village board will devise plans to market the space with the help of Michael Consuelo of the Lake George Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. Elvis Festivals; an Oktoberfest; cars, trucks, and trailer shows; a circus; and music festivals should all be interested in using the space.
Blais said initial plans may call for leaving the concrete floor of the Cavalcade of Cars in place, while erecting lighting and appropriate "Welcome" signage and a marquee.
But Peter Bauer of The Fund for Lake George said last week the pad and its footing would be entirely removed. The final agreement, however, which covers such details, had yet to be signed as of Tuesday.
A rest room building, constructed with grant funding, should be able to service both the park and festival space, Blais said. A new entrance off Beach Road will also be constructed to encourage pedestrians to visit the site.
Blais said he envisions the village will retrofit its existing portable stage to accommodate musical groups on the festival space as well.
Users will be charged based on what similar open spaces charge as well as for utilizing additional services such as electricity, staging, security, garbage collection, etc. The village also anticipates using the space to park vehicles during their fireworks shows, holiday weekends and other special events.
"I believe the location near our beautiful lake, along with the name recognition of Lake George and our variety of accommodations, will encourage new events to use the space," the mayor said.
Blais said he is also seeking to choose an appropriate name for the festival space, and he encourages citizens to submit suggestions to village officials.