Among the Warren County supervisors reviewing occupancy tax grant applications Dec. 10 were (clockwise, from left): Edna Frasier of Hague, Dennis Dickinson of Lake George, Bill Kenny of Glens Falls and Ralph Bentley of Horicon. (Not pictured): ,Gene Merlino of Lake Luzerne, Mark Westcott of Queensbury and Ron Conover of Bolton.
Warren County leaders demonstrated solid support for upcounty transportation Monday Dec. 10 as they voted to award $26,000 to the North Creek Business Alliance for its tourist shuttle service.
This occupancy tax allocation for the shuttle service represents a 63 percent increase over the county’s 2012 grant.
The Business Alliance has been seeking to purchase a compact bus or diesel trolley to replace the 5-passenger electric golf cart it now uses to transport people at no charge through town — in an effort to boost economic activity.
This shuttle has been vital in getting people around North Creek, particularly from the train station to downtown enterprises, Alliance officials have said.
This shuttle service is extremely important in transporting visitors who arrive in North Creek as passengers on the Saratoga-North Creek Railway, but the existing electric cart can’t handle the 300 to 400 people who routinely arrive on the train, according to the Alliance’s grant application.
Alliance officials could not be reached early this week.
The grant application notes that the shuttle service, coupled with the railway, has been a key element in transforming North Creek from an isolated but historic hamlet into a destination resort town.
The document also notes the boosted economic activity and new jobs created by the railway and the shuttle, citing that full funding of the shuttle service would be responsible for generating 11,390 “bed nights,” or overnight stays in the upcounty region. The application also noted that obtaining a new shuttle was important for accommodating people with mobility limitations.
Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow commented that although the occupancy tax grant of $26,000 was $12,000 short of the Alliance’s request, it would allow for purchase of a shuttle of some kind to allow substantial expansion of the service. The town of Johnsburg has already pledged $10,000 for the shuttle operation for 2013.
In divvying up the occupancy tax money Dec. 10, county leaders allocated a total of $391,500 to help bankroll local events that are expected to bring overnight visitors into the area.
A committee of a half-dozen county supervisors took several hours to decide on the sum for each sponsoring organization.
Requests submitted approached $700,000, and the supervisors determined the grant sums in two rounds of consideration, amending a subcommittee’s initial recommendations.
Major events receive support
Two of the county’s five major events in terms of overnight overnight stays — Americade motorcycle rally and the Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival, received $50,000 and $25,000 respectively.
Two other main events had their funding reduced —the state high school boys basketball championship tournament received a grant of $30,500, or $2,500 less than their request to match last year’s level. The Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce was awarded $19,000 for their World’s Largest Garage Sale event, a reduction of $1,000 due to their 2012 sale operating $400 under budget.
The Adirondack Nationals Car Show, which annually attracts capacity crowds to Lake George for two days, received $27,500, an increase of $2,500 over 2012 to help bankroll their 25th annual show in 2013.
Centurion Cycling, which received $20,000 last year, had their $15,000 request reduced to a grant of $11,500, because the group had a carryover of funds from last-year’s bicycle event, downsized after their 2012 request was made.
The Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association convention, funded with $20,000 or more in the past, was granted $17,500 despite a request for $40,000 and a claim that the group’s massive parades and conventions generate 10,500 “bed nights” in the area. The group is going to hold a convention in Queensbury rather than Lake George as has been traditional.
New appropriations slated
The Hyde Collection was granted $18,500 to help publicize their new exhibit, “Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe & Lake George,” which is expected to draw people from around the world, generating a predicted 5,050 bed nights.
Newly funded for 2013 were: The Lake George Music Festival, $4,000 for their classical music concerts; the Lake George Elvis Festival, $6,500 for their 10th annual edition; Sunkiss Balloon Festival, $1,500; Gore Chamber’s Outdoor Education Seminars, a sum of $500; Improv Records, $2,000 for their Haunted Halloween Bash and their “Creekend” fest set for April 26 and 27; Lake George Community Band, $2,500 for their Community Band Festival and their Concert series — both held in Lake George; and $2,000 to the lake George Chamber for its local Oktoberfest; and to Ed Zibro of Lake George, $3,000 for his expo of motorcycle accessories at the old county fairgrounds — entitled Warrensburg Bike Rally.
Receiving increases from 20112 were: the Lake George Triathlon, up from $11,000 to $12,000; the Adirondack Theater Fest, up $500 to $5,500; the North Country Triathlon, doubled to $4,000; the Girls and Boys State Volleyball tournaments, doubled to $1,500; and UpYonda Farm, up 50 percent to $4,500 for their educational program series.
Some events see grants reduced
Receiving decreases were two enterprises of the Bolton Landing Chamber of Commerce: Girlfriends Getaway, down $1,000 to $5,000; “Crossroads of the French & Indian War Encampment, down $1,000 to $9,000. Also experiencing decreases were: Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama, down 21 percent to $16,500 — despite testimony that it generated 1,850 bed nights and the popular show won national awards; Lake George Winter Carnival, down $500 to $14,500; Gore Mountain Chamber’s Adventure Festival, reduced 40 percent to $3,000; Lake George Performance Weekend, down 33 percent to $2,000; Lake George Restaurant Week, down 50 percent to $1,000; Lake George Chamber’s Canadian Visitor program, down $500 to $3,500; and the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum, down 25 percent to $1,500.
Special awards granted
Events receiving special awards, to be drawn out of the county’s $320,00 treasury of reserve occupancy tax funds, are Big Top Circus, $15,000; Adirondack Sports Complex — The Dome for its softball tournament series, a sum of $25,000, and Eastern NY Marine Trades, $1,500 for their boat show.
Prior to the awards, event sponsors took their turn pitching their plans. Joe Altieri of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, seeking a grant for the state volleyball tournaments, noted his group was bringing the state softball tournaments to Queensbury in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He said that his organization likes to bring tournaments to the area because of affordable accommodations, bed tax incentives, and “great local support” featuring enthusiastic volunteers.
Chris Dutcher of Americade noted that their rally was faring far better than its competitors elsewhere, but it required far more work in promotion and advertising to keep the attendance up in recent years, due to the national economic uncertainty.
Alexander Lombard of the Lake George Music Festival noted that his multi-week series represented a distinctive cultural attraction, attracting tourists of an upscale demographic to the area.