Planning for Lake Placid’s future

Communities adopt comprehensive plans to help them achieve unified vision of the future. Sadly, many of these documents end up sitting on shelves, never to be used, with time and money wasted.

But not in Lake Placid. Its comprehensive plan is used like a roadmap and revised, like any good plan. There has been clear vision, planning and follow-through.

Town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid officials are poised to adopt a revised comprehensive plan that includes both municipalities as one community, as they last did in 1997. The Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Board, under the chairmanship of Dean Dietrich, spent years updating the 17-year-old document.

We commend these board members for their work, plus the dozens of people who volunteered for the seven committees.

A Placid-centric plan

Let’s be clear that this is a plan for the Lake Placid area, not all of North Elba. The 9,000-person town encompasses the 2,500-person village of Lake Placid plus its surrounding area, which this plan covers. However, North Elba also includes the hamlet of Ray Brook and a chunk of the village of Saranac Lake, and this comprehensive plan contains no specific goals for those areas, where people also pay property, sales and occupancy taxes to further the town’s operation and future.

It’s important to make this distinction for a couple of reasons.

First, North Elbans outside Lake Placid may want some goals for their parts of the town, too. Who’s mapping the future of Ray Brook, for instance? This is a good chance to weigh in on that.

Second, Some of the new plan’s goals could affect Ray Brook and Saranac Lake residents of North Elba, for better or worse. One goal, for instance, is to expand the Lake Placid Police Department’s jurisdiction outside village limits into the town, which means at least some non-village residents would have to start paying for that. North Elbans need to know about such things. Therefore, it’s good this plan exists, giving townspeople plenty of advance notice of potential future proposals.

We hope they pay attention.

Public hearing

Now’s your chance to learn more and have a say on the updated comprehensive plan before the town and village boards adopted it. The public hearing starts at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the first-floor conference room at the North Elba Town Hall, 2693 Main St., Lake Placid. People may ask questions and give comments after a brief presentation. We expect town, village and community development board members will be there.

Read up

We encourage residents to read the plan ahead of time. It is available as a PDF document on the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism website,

The comprehensive plan is organized into seven sections:

-Government Structure and Function

-Economy and Tourism

-Community Facilities and Services


-Environment and Natural Resources

-Land Use and Design.

For each, there are vision statements along with goals and implementation measures. This is a big plan, as you’ll discover if you look at it. Just the goals and objectives, printed in today’s paper, run about 2,400 words.

The bottom line

If there’s one major theme in this plan, it’s that Lake Placid is faced with many challenges, most of which stem from the pressure of being a popular resort town. Real estate values are high, so seniors and much of the village’s workforce are pushed out of town for affordable housing. Parking poses problems. An increase in vacation rentals has turned some neighborhoods dark at certain times of the year. Invasive species, unwittingly introduced by visiting boaters, need to be kept in check.

A vital year-round residential population, workforce and small business community can continue to dwindle if action isn’t taken. We firmly believe that if all this plan’s goals are achieved, Lake Placid will be a better place.

Now that the plan is drafted and almost approved, the real work begins.