Boards will resolve hotel problems

I ask that everyone keep an open mind about the proposed hotel on Lake Flower.

In December, the village board gave preliminary approval to the developer’s proposal for a five-story destination hotel, with resort amenities and a restaurant. Our approval identified a number of issues, including aesthetics and traffic, which we expect the developer to address in a formal application to the village.

We have not yet received that application, so it is too early to know how the developer will respond to the issues identified by the village. Once the application is made, professionals at the village and the Adirondack Park Agency will work with the developer to make sure that the application provides answers to all key land use and other issues that the village and APA have. At that point, the village planning board and the village board, comprised of smart and dedicated Saranac Lakers who love their village, will review the application and decide whether the proposal works for Saranac Lake.

That decision will be made on the facts and will take into account all public comment. While most of the recent comment letters in the paper have been negative, public comment on the streets and downtown has been overwhelmingly positive. Most people trust that the village and APA will do their jobs and, if the hotel is approved, that it will be the best it can be. They also understand that more hotel rooms are one of the keys to Saranac Lake’s future as a tourism destination, that the increased property tax revenue will lessen the tax burden on all Saranac Lakers, that “more feet on the streets” will fill our storefronts and help our existing businesses thrive, and that with new development comes more jobs and direct and indirect opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

Accordingly, we must consider the fact that the proposed Lake Flower project will provide 90 quality hotel rooms, increasing the number of guest rooms at that location by 39, with huge direct and indirect impacts to our local economy. We must also consider the facts that the proposed project could result in a 400-percent increase in the assessed value of that property, and that we must increase the village tax base in a responsible manner so we can keep essential village services, particularly our police department, which accounts for 43 percent of our tax levy. The facts are that Saranac Lake must grow in order to survive.

The notion expressed by some that the three existing motels should be bought, knocked down and grassed over is simply not realistic. The village cannot afford the $2 million to buy the property, nor the $500,000 to turn it into a park, nor could it afford to lose the current $56,000 per year in property taxes from those properties. Everyone is entitled to express their opinion, even our friends who live outside the village, but we must consider the critical fact that what happens with this property will directly affect the pocketbooks and wallets of Saranac Lake taxpayers for years to come.

So please join me in considering all of the positives for Saranac Lake from this proposed project, and help us work through the issues so that at the end of the day – no matter the outcome – we can look in the mirror and say that we have done the best for Saranac Lake, its residents and its future.