LAKEGEORGE-A downtown business owner is seeking to take on a decision-making role in municipal government as she challenges two incumbent Lake George Village trustees in an election March 15.
Patty Kirkpatrick is vying for a four year term, as two present trustees Ray Perry and John Earl are campaigning to retain their seats. The top two vote-getters secure a four-year term.
Voting is from noon to 9 p.m. in the Lake George Town Hall.
Kirkpatrick, owner of Nina's Sweet Shop on Canada St., said this week that she wants to provide more representation for downtown business owners in village decisions. She also said she'd like to prompt the government to be more open with the public, particularly concerning notices of meetings.
"If all the people were invited to village meetings, there would be more cooperation between year-round residents and the business community," she said, noting that about 70 percent of the village revenue comes from commercial property tax, but many business owners are part-year residents - they don't officially reside here - so they don't get to vote.
"For many years, it's been 'us and them' between business owners and residents, and this doesn't encourage the right atmosphere," she said, noting she'd like to see Lake George return to the congenial atmosphere that existed decades ago when her parents, Anne and Ernie Patenaude, ran restaurants in Lake George.
The two entities ought to not only co-exist, but truly appreciate what they do for one another, she said.
"Somehow, year-round residents and business owners should love each other, because we have a fabulous tax rate, wonderful schools, and efficient services."
Those aspects she praised are the reasons Perry and Earl say they should stay in office.
Earl, a three-term trustee and the village's Deputy Mayor, cites a level tax rate, financial stability, and various accomplishments involving upgraded village infrastructure as reasons he should be returned to office.
"We've kept the tax rate extremely low with an average annual increase of 2.3 percent over the past 10 years - it's a far lower increase than other area municipalities," he said.
Earl said he feels the village board has routinely addressed the concerns of citizens, balancing the interests of businesses and residents; plus the trustees are committed to sharing information with the public.
"As a board, we have a good record of resolving people's problems and keeping them happy," he said. "Also, our board is very transparent and accessible."
Ray Perry, completing his first four-year term, said he was adept at balancing the needs of residents and business owners, because he owns two businesses on
Canada Street, plus he's a year-round resident. Perry is an owner of Pablo's Burrito Cantina and Magic Castle Indoor Golf & Entertainment Center.
"I'm a business owner myself, and I'm representing business people too as well as residents," he said.
While Earl is campaigning on the accomplishments of new water lines, upgraded sewer system, and the construction of a new Visitors Center and fire station, Perry is looking more towards the impact new ideas could have on life in Lake George.
Perry is now working to launch a new, Lake George Holiday Lights Spectacle, in which downtown buildings would be festooned with hundreds of thousands of lights that would synchronize with music. Perry envisions a nightly show in Lake George between Thanksgiving and New Years Day - to feature lavish, lighting displays in both Shepard Park and on buildings opposite the park. He said such a spectacle would bring national attention to Lake George.
He is also seeking to start a new village-wide outdoor display of large painted fish replicas, like Saratoga Springs has done with fancifully painted horses.
Perry also notes strides in protecting the environment, including working with county agencies to curb and treat stormwater, and working to replace standard holiday lights with efficient LED lighting.
He said there's a lot more to accomplish, like the pending streetscape enhancements on the Western side of Canada St. and an effort to cut down on needless light pollution from omni-directional streetlights -and he'd like to see such projects through.
But Kirkpatrick, who for years has worked o establish a Business Improvement District, said she'd like to see some changes. more accommodating attitudes toward commercial property owners is vital, she said.
"I'd like to encourage people to be more involved in the process of developing Lake George codes and regulations, she said, adding that she'd like to be a part of assuring that such laws are enforced with equality.
"I don't see a consistency in planning and zoning," she said. "Some things are okay in one place but not in another. - they should be fair across the board."
Perry said the zoning and planning regulations were fair, well enforced, and they "raised the bar" for developments, and thus boosted the quality of life for all.
Kirkpatrick also said that government spending needs more scrutiny, citing that Lake George Village is now nearly $9 million in debt. But Earl characterized such debt as quite reasonable, citing the village's stability and superior bond rating.
Kirkpatrick added she'd like to promote a new unity.
"I owe owe it to many parents to do everything I can to revitalize the village and get it back to the way I remember," she said.