Several days before his tenure as Lake George Town Supervisor ended, Frank McCoy packs up personal items from his office in the town hall.
Frank McCoy tossed a digital clock, a necktie, some photographs and a promotional leaflet from his recent unsuccessful campaign to be re-elected town supervisor into one of three cardboard boxes lined up on his desk.
He glanced over at a set of architectural renderings of a trade show and welcome center that he had envisioned to be constructed from the concrete-and-steel skeleton of the former Cavalcade of Cars building in the West Brook Park.
McCoy had lobbied hard for the Cavalcade bones to be saved, and rebuilt into a West Brook Park welcome building and trade show center with Adirondack-themed architecture.
His efforts were defeated -- as was his quest to continue his tenure in office -- by the Lake George Citizens Group, whose primary objective after being formed was to abandon the Cavalcade building redevelopment. The group members criticized his administration at virtually every town board meeting, then worked tirelessly to oust him from office. In November, he and two long-time board members were defeated, and the citizens group’s slate was elected, forming a new majority on the board.
As he packed up his mementoes and personal items on Dec. 28, McCoy looked at the architectural drawings and grimaced.
“They wanted to tear down that sturdy structure, then after it’s gone, they’re supporting the construction of a new $1.21 million Adirondack-style welcome center at the park -- after they argued so hard for ‘open space,’” he said with a tone of bitterness in his voice of the Citizen’s Group. “It was a matter of politics, after all — now I understand that they were out to get me from day one.”
Rather than focusing on frustrations, McCoy talked about his accomplishments as he packed up to vacate the office.
“I cut taxes two years in a row in an era that all expenses were increasing,” he said, noting that taxes had increased steadily before he served as Lake George Town Supervisor. McCoy credited much of the cost-cutting to town Superintendent of Highways Dan Davis for slashing overtime.
McCoy also said he and the board worked hard to restore financial stability to the town, stockpiling a $700,000 surplus at the end of his tenure, after facing a $300,000 deficit upon taking office two years earlier.
“People didn’t vote on the issues in November, they responded to scare tactics,” he said. Citizens Group representatives have disputed such claims, saying they weren’t out to “get” anyone, they were only advocating transparent and responsive government — which McCoy has said he provided all along.
Losing the fight to save and restore Cavalcade or demolish ended up with McCoy and his board divorcing the West Brook project, selling out their financial stake to Lake George Village.
The action, criticized by his political opponent, may have ended up saving taxpayers as much as $250,000 initially and $70,000 per year, McCoy said.
”Down the road, the project will cost money to maintain,” he said. “The park will still be there and it will be very nice, but the town taxpayers won’t be on the hook for it.”
Other highlights of his tenure, McCoy said, included making the town budget more understandable to the public, properly identifying line items and publishing the financial plan on the Internet.
Other top achievements, he said, were developing plans and lining up funding for the Exit 21 Corridor plans, and taking action to protect the lake by being the first municipality in the area to enact a phosphorus ban.
The other accomplishment, he said, was successfully lobbying to use occupancy tax revenue in fighting infestations of Asian clams, so the spiraling costs of the effort wouldn’t be shouldered by local taxpayers.
McCoy also cited his battle to protect the Americade motorcycle rally from the state’s ever-increasing rental charges, that local officials considered exorbitant. His and others' efforts ended up with the commitment from Americade — the area’s biggest event — to remain in Lake George for at least five more years, and not relocate elsewhere.
McCoy said he was unfairly associated with the previous administration of Lou Tessier, who served in the office for decades and had an autocratic style. Tessier, the town G.O.P. chairman, anointed McCoy as his replacement in 2009.
“A lot of people said my political career was doomed from the beginning,” he said. “Because many people thought Lou was still running the town.”
McCoy said that his avoidance of granting favors for powerful special interests also likely led to his political downfall.
“We weren’t backed by anyone with an agenda, I didn't owe anybody anything, but in the end, I had all the powerful interests and politicians against me,” he said. “It was too much for me to overcome — the deck was stacked.”
McCoy added that his biggest regret was that he’s leaving office without bringing a medical center to town, and building a new headquarters for the local ambulance squad. He had worked to boost plans to site the two agencies together, perhaps in a common facility with a senior assisted living home. At one time, the former Ramada Inn was eyed for conversion to house all three.
The collapse of the economy, prompting grant funds to dry up, he said, deep-sixed the initiatives.
McCoy reminisced about his former work for 15 years as a chef for Shoreline Restaurant, Mario’s and Fort William Henry Resort. This work in area kitchens was followed up as a representative for a wholesale food supplier.
Dec. 28, McCoy said he wasn’t sure what direction he would now take in his career, or whether he’d retire early at 57 — perhaps moving to Florida near his brother Peter.
What is clear, he said, is that he won’t run for office again, he said.
“I walk out of here with my head held high,” he said, citing his administration’s accomplishments. “I was doing what I believed was best for the citizens of Lake George.”