Comprehensive plan approval put on hold
LAKE PLACID – Village and town officials pushed back a decision on a updated comprehensive plan Tuesday, in order to review it further.
Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall and Town Supervisor Roby Politi called the meeting to order at 4 p.m. Chairman of the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Board Dean Dietrich was first to speak to the crowded room of about 50 people, explaining how the plan was put together.
In the end, the boards extended the time period for public comment until an approval is made. A date for when that may happen was not decided.
“In all honesty, I don’t think all the members of my board have got together to discuss each and every objective of the Comprehensive Plan,” Politi said. “Our plan would be to get together with the village board again, as we have always done in the past, and decide on things that might make sense or are just wishful thinking.”
Randall agreed, adding his board would review the plan further, too.
“We’re in the same position at this point,” Randall said.
Dietrich said the decision was a bump in the road, but he is not discouraged.
“The boards need to act when they are comfortable acting,” Dietrich said. “I wouldn’t call it a delay. I’d call it due diligence.”
At the town board’s regular board meeting later that night, a resolution was approved making the Community Development Board an official commission of the town government. Dietrich said the next step will be for the village to approve a similar measure.
“Being an officially sanctioned commission will give us a leg up when we apply for grants,” Dietrich said.
Julie Ball, a member of the Community Development Board, said North Elba board members have not been attending the community development meetings often enough. Both the village and town have board members who are designated to keep in touch with the Community Development Board.
“In the future, they (the town) need to be a bigger part of the discussion,” Ball said.
North Elba board member Bob Miller said he and fellow board member Jay Rand were the town’s liasons to the Community Development Board. Miller added that in the future Rand would fill the role.
“One way or the other, we will be attending meetings,” Miller said.
Greg Dennin of North Elba said the town and village could do a better job saving money with shared services.
“Because you’ve got two boards, you have inefficiency and you’ve got self-preservation,” Denin said. “It makes so much sense to be working with one board to do these things.”
Politi said the two governments share services well compared to other governments in the state.
“I’ve never come across it (village dissolution) in that proposal,” Politi said. “It was danced around but never said.”
Dietrich said dissolution is not specifically in the plan, adding he believes public support is behind sharing more services but less so for dissolution.
Denin is in favor of dissolving the village.
“It’s been a significantly long time, and that decision (dissolution) needs to be brought to the voters,” Denin said. “I know it’s a tough obstacle, but without addressing that, I think you’re fooling yourself.”
Village Trustee Jason Leon said “some confusion” existed between the two government boards.
“There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming desire from the community for that yet,” Leon said of village dissolution. “I think if there was some sort of change it would have to come from the community.”
Miller disagreed with Leon, saying after the meeting it was ultimately the village government’s authority to decide on dissolution.
Gary Hoffman of Saranac Lake brought up the sharing of services for the Lake Placid village police department and courts.
Dietrich said the big issue with a police jurisdiction expansion is that costs would shift from village to town taxpayers.
“But we do know that it’s feasible,” Dietrich said.
“This is just a concept,” Politi said. “There has to be a lot of consideration. I mean Essex County hasn’t weighed in on it. This is just an idea for consideration.”
Linda Friedlander from North Elba was in support of the idea, saying her daughter was in a bad situation two years ago and village police did not respond.
“A man wandered in my daughter’s house at 2 a.m., and my daughter called the village police, and they said, ‘Sorry you’re not in our jurisdiction,'” Friedlander said. “I think it’s very important we extend the village police jurisdiction.”
Friedlander said later the man was drunk and her daughter shoved him out of the house.
Sgt. Frank Strack of the Lake Placid Police Department in a phone interview later told the Enterprise he was not familiar with that particular case.
“The officers will normally notify the proper jurisdiction,” Strack said.
In North Elba outside Lake Placid, the village police will notify state police in Ray Brook if an emergency occurs. If the state police request the village police to take the call, they will remain on scene until state police arrive, Strack said.
Karen Delaney from the village agreed that expanding police jurisdiction to North Elba is needed.
At the close of the meeting, members of the audience thanked Dietrich and others involved in creating the comprehensive plan. Dietrich said hundreds of volunteer hours went into creating the plan, which began in 2011, and a grant was secured to cover the costs.