ALBANY - The popular motorcycle rally Americade will stay in Lake George this year if a tentative agreement reached between the event's founder and the state of New York is signed, according to state officials.
State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today that the state has formed a partnership with Warren County that will allow Americade to use the Lake George Beach, Battlefield Park and Prospect Mountain Day Use Areas for the June 2011 event.
The agreement would lead to the issuance of a "temporary revocable permit" allowing Americade to use the state-owned lands in the village and town of Lake George.
Americade founder Bill Dutcher had asked the state to lower the permit price from the proposed amount of $82,000 to $50,000, or else he may move the event to Massachusetts. And that's exactly what the state did in its new agreement.
The permit price is now $50,000; however, the DEC still has to make up the difference in labor costs to staff the traffic-control portion of the event, according to the DEC, which has claimed thousands of dollars of expenses associated with Americade, assertions that many others have contended. The bulk of the vendors are usually located in the Million Dollar Beach parking lot. "Our goal was always to recover our costs," DEC spokesperson Michael Bopp said in a March 25 phone interview. "It should not be on the taxpayers' purse."
An email late Friday from Americade organizers said that the agreement called for Americade to shoulder motorcycle public parking lot staffing responsibilities and costs which were previously provided by the DEC.
This year's deal would be similar to the one in 2010 in which Americade pays entrance fees on behalf of the participants under the terms of the DEC permit.
DEC has traditionally provided Environmental Conservation Officers to help with traffic control at Americade. In announcing the agreement, Bopp said will still help this year, but not as much because the Warren County Sheriff's Office will now take up the slack and provide extra law enforcement help, according to Bopp.
"Americade is of vital economic importance to Warren County and the surrounding communities and we have all benefitted from the responsiveness of DEC and its cooperation to secure Americade's continued presence in Lake George for years to come," said Dan Stec, Queensbury town supervisor and chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, in a DEC press release.
Not so fast, Dutcher said, when contacted by the Adirondack Journal Friday afternoon. He said Americade would release a prepared statement of its own early next week, but only after the agreement is signed. As of Friday, Americade and the DEC only had a "tacit understanding" as to the permit's details. He declined further comment until he could read the DEC press release and discuss the agreement with his staff.
In the meantime, state officials lauded the tentative agreement.
"This agreement demonstrates our commitment to making state facilities an important part of the tourism economy in the Lake George region," Martens said. "We worked very hard to create a partnership between our Department and Americade and believe this framework can serve as a model in future years. This resolution would not have been possible without the efforts of Senator Little, Assemblywoman Sayward and Supervisor Stec and we appreciate their cooperation and support."
Sen. Betty Little sees Americade as a "tremendous economic driver" that attracts thousands of people to her district each year, helping the tourist industry prior to the busy summer season.
"Many area businesses depend on this boost of activity, so resolving this cost issue was very important to me," Little said. "Working with the DEC, an agreement has been reached that is fair and appropriate and a good example of what can be achieved when we partner."
Americade will be held from June 7 to 11 in 2011 and is billed as "the world's largest multi-brand motorcycle touring rally." It attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year.