Following a rare joint intermunicipal meeting held Tuesday Jan. 24, Lake George Village Superintendent of Public Works Dave Harrington (center) talks to Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson (right) and town board member Dan Hurley (left) about the prospects of converting the two government facilities to solar power.
Amid unprecedented expressions of municipal cooperation, the leaders of Lake George’s two local governments decided Tuesday, Jan. 24 to work together on exploring conversion to solar energy and pursuing consolidation of functions and resources.
The actions were taken at a rare joint meeting between the Lake George Village trustees and the Lake George town board.
Town board member Marisa Muratori and village Public Works Superintendent Dave Harrington revealed they have been taking action exploring the concept of installing solar panels to energize various municipal facilities, both to save money and to shrink the governments’ carbon footprint.
As of Tuesday, Harrington had given two solar engineering firms preliminary tours of the Lake George town and village facilities, and several more similar surveys and interviews are scheduled for the near future.
Based on the success that the Town of Chester has experienced already in their solar panel installations, Muratori said she had high hopes for the solar energy initiative.
“This is one of the things we can do to boost our sustainability locally, as we increase our efforts to rely on our community resources,” she said.
The two boards resolved to move forward on the project, as consultants have warned that federal incentives for solar conversion are expiring soon.
Harrington said there’s plenty of room at the northwest edge of the parking lot at the village-town hall complex for a lineup of solar panels, which are 16 feet deep. He also said there was plenty of space at the village landfill.
The solar conversion project in Chester is virtually complete, with solar panels installed at the town landfill and garage, and yet to be completed at the town ski area, health center and Municipal Center.
When completed in several months, the project is expected to save 10 percent to 25 percent on electric bills, while producing no carbon dioxide pollution.
Chester is leasing its solar panels from an engineering firm and an investor group, which are shouldering all construction costs in return for a portion of the revenue from the electricity generation. Over the 10-year life of the contract, taxpayers are expected to save as much as $50,000.
Muratori said that the village and town would be examining this option, as well as outright purchase of the equipment — which would mean a sizeable investment but heftier returns.
Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said he was also enthusiastic about converting to solar energy.
“This puts Lake George on the ‘inside list’ for sustainable energy projects, and gets us known as progressive,” he said, citing various potential benefits for taxpayers.
In other business, the two boards vowed to coordinate Occupancy Tax grants to organizations sponsoring events.
Also, village mayor Robert Blais convinced town leaders to split an $8,000 fee for the Big Apple Circus to use the festival space at the former Gaslight Village. The circus officials have balked at various costs, and have asked the local municipalities to pick up the tab. The village and town officials said Tuesday they’d take the $4,000 each from their Occupancy Tax receipts in an effort to persuade the circus to set up in Lake George this summer for the circus’ tentatively scheduled two-week run.
The town board members also agreed in concept to contribute towards the Lake George Skateboard Park, also set for development at the festival space. Blais said that about $45,000 has been raised for the venue, about half of the money that’s needed.
He said that the most recent plans call for the skateboarding park to be competition-grade, so sanctioned competitive events can be held there.
The town and village boards also voted to consolidate their lifeguard staffs and hire one seasonal “waterfront director” to oversee the beach personnel.
The two boards also selected members of their panels to serve on intermunicipal committees to explore shared services or outright consolidation of various local departments — highways, buildings and grounds, planning and zoning, sewer and water.
Blais praised the progress in intermunicipal cooperation.
“We’re looking forward to working together on the challenge of saving taxpayers’ money,” he said. “We’ve got optimism and great hopes.”