Plans for the new park on the former Gaslight Village property, unveiled last week, include an elevated walkway over West Brook and the roadways that straddle it. The bridge-like structure is envisioned to include an observation platform reminiscent of an Adirondack fire tower.
For more than a decade, plans for West Brook Environmental Park have been described in concepts crafted in words.
The park, grounded in a mission to purify stormwater with engineered wetlands, has been hailed as providing a new natural gateway to the Adirondacks.
This last week, the visions morphed into reality, as representatives of Elan Planning & Design presented drawings of the park to Warren County leaders.
Depicting meandering waterways and a curved, elevated walkway over West Brook complete with an observation tower, the plans received unanimous conceptual approval from the county Board of Supervisors.
The 2.5-acre festival space would be anchored by a portable stage at one end, balanced off by a stone-faced entranceway resembling a historic depot on the other side.
On the eastern side of the park, a children’s adventure play area — not a standard playground — would invite youngsters to interact with nature. A nearby “council ring” would provide a pleasant outdoor classroom — in sync with nature — for both adults and youth, the planners said.
A skateboard park with geometric forms would complement the setting, as well as provide a destination for enthusiasts of the sport.
Various nooks in the park along meandering pathways would provide people with sites for either contemplating nature, or for quiet meditation.
Elsewhere, creative spray fountains punctuated with boulders and other natural features, would engage children in fun-filled play in an attractive setting.
Overlooks would provide visitors with insights on ecology while they enjoy a healthful walk through wetlands containing a myriad of plants that are naturally cleaning up groundwater while providing habitat for birds and other wildlife.
Jere Tatich and Lisa Nagle, principals of Elan Planning, unveiled the drawings and plans, based on a dozen or more recent interactive sessions with the public, plus interviews with various individuals and groups.
The structures, likely to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, are designed to be situated on land that the state and federal governments have pledged the most assistance, county officials said, so the impact on local taxpayers is likely to be minimized.
A possible feature is an ornate carousel, once a featured attraction at Gaslight Village, situated of the property from the mid-1900s until 1989 when it closed down.
Chester Supervisor Fed Monroe, head of the county committee planning the park, said Lake George Mayor Robert Blais tracked down the two-tiered carousel — sold years ago at an auction — and it’s still in good shape.
“It’s very iconic, and it’s available,” Monroe said.
Monroe and Blais said the park would likely be developed in stages, as grant funding is pledged, making various features feasible, step by step.
Nagle said that the concepts were likely to become more concrete in the next several months, with a public presentation of the plans as soon as late September.
Progress on the plans would be in conjunction with lining up grant funding, she said.
“We’re moving forward,” Nagle said.
After seeing the plans, Glens Falls Supervisor Ward Five Supervisor Bill Kenny said he was impressed.
“This is the most significant project in our area for the past 40 years,” he said.
“These are ambitious, promising plans that will hopefully enhance Lake George as a destination,” Lake George Town Supervisor Frank McCoy said.
Mayor Blais also praised the plans.
“The entrance building, the skate park, the waterways and elevated walkway with the observation tower are all great features,” Blais said. “We just have to be patient with the funding.”
Area officials said this week that the flooding of West Brook would not substantially change the planning process, although further stormwater management measures might have to be incorporated into the development plan so West Brook can handle such large volumes of water in the future.