Swimmers in the 2011 Lake George New Years Day Polar plunge charge into the water for a frigid dip. The popularity of the event in the last two years has prompted the board to propose new laws regulating such events.
After village officials witnessed the mass of swimmers charging simultaneously into the waters of Lake George for the local New Year's Day Polar plunge, they are now seeking a way to boost safety while limiting potential liability from a drowning incident.
The village trustees decided Monday Jan. 9 to draft a law limiting the number of people plunging into the water simultaneously to 500 in mass swimming events. Blais said that the idea was prompted by safety and liability concerns raised by the large crowds cramming Shepard Park Beach for the Jan. 1 Polar Plunge event, at which 2,000 swimmers charged into Lake George, with about 700 registered swimmers — and many others not recorded — plunging in three consecutive waves.
It was also decided that the plunge should start at noon rather than at 2 p.m. to reduce alcohol consumption by revelers at the event. The board also voiced support for requiring the Polar Plunge event sponsors, the Lake George Winter Carnival Committee, to obtain $3 million in event liability insurance rather than the current $1 million policy.
Also, the village trustees decided to advertise for bids for new public docks to be constructed — 90 feet by 5 feet docks of aluminum, sturdier than the public docks that have been damaged by winter ice and recent storms. The bids are to be advertised this next week and be awarded at the board’s February meeting. The number of docks to be installed depend on the prices bid, Blais said. He announced that the village’s request for a state grant to fund new public docks was not accepted.
In other business, the Lake George Village Board:
• Passed a resolution in a 3-2 split vote to boost fees at Beach Road parking lot from $1 to $2 per hour — councilmen Joe Mastrodomenico and Ray Perry voted No, citing the charge was too steep.
• Heard that the village had been awarded a new $50,000 grant from the state in connection with Lake George being named a major stopoff on the statewide Blue Way Trail — a destination for divers and history buffs. The money, Blais said, is to go towards developing maps and promotional materials.
• Endorsed a plan to erect bicycle racks through the village and benches in a new pocket park near the village Visitors Center in accordance with a $5,000 “Complete Street”grant pledged by the New York State Bicycle Coalition.
• Voiced support for a proposal to allow non-profit groups to set up displays and operate booths on the back porch of the Visitors Center to promote their organization or events. Blais recommended charging $100 per day for the privilege, citing it would help boost revenue to offset taxes.
• Heard that FEMA and the village have documented about $155,000 in qualifying expenses due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Irene, and federal reimbursement for that sum is anticipated.
• Endorsed an idea to ban television monitors on businesses’ outside decks, and referred the concept to the village planning board for their consideration under the village’s pending electronic sign law.
• Decided to leave some holiday decorations up in the village for about six more weeks including lit Christmas trees, light displays and illuminated snowflakes.
• Heard that Lake George Winter Carnival officials are wary that unseasonably warm weather may mean the lake might not freeze, which would dramatically cut attendance at the event. Blais said that if the Lake doesn’t freeze over, ATV races would be held weekly in the Gaslight festival space. If enough snowfall occurs, snowcross races will also be held at the venue, he said.
• Set a joint town-village meeting for 4 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 24 to discuss joint municipal efforts and consolidation of services.
• Were informed that Maria Lucci has bid $91,000 to purchase a village-owned lakeshore plot near the Tahoe Motel that once hosted a village pumping station. The Hill Drive Homeowners Association has submitted a bid for less than half that sum, but it has the legal option, Blais said, to obtain the property if it resubmits a higher bid. The Association is now paying $4,000 per year for a 10-year lease and has docks there. Some citizens have suggested the plot is worth up to $200,000.