Press-Republican

April 8, 2014

Towns present joint vision, goals

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — LAKE PLACID — The updated North Elba/Lake Placid Comprehensive Plan goes to public hearing today.

It was revised over the past several years by a Community Development Board formed after the Joint North Elba/Lake Placid Planning Commission approved code revisions in 2011.

Updates build from a town and village Comprehensive Plan adopted in 1997 and address police protection, fire districts, bike trails, traffic and numerous other issues.

NEW MAPPING DATA

Factored in are a new set of Geographic Information System maps that show how North Elba and Lake Placid are positioned among the wetlands, waterways, steep slopes and infrastructure, among other geographic features.

The maps will eventually be posted on the North Elba Building Office website for public use.

“They are big files, but we are moving in that direction,” Board Chairman Dean Dietrich told the Press-Republican. “Having it in one place just makes the information so usable and accessible. By putting that in the Comprehensive Plan, it gives us a leg up on grant opportunities.”

SEVEN CHAPTERS

In addition, the Comprehensive Plan utilized data collected since 1997, including traffic statistics, assessment rolls, parking information, tourism growth and housing studies.

In all, seven subcommittees reported to the Community Development Board on components of the plan: government structure; economy and tourism; community facilities; mobility; environment and natural resources; housing; and land use and design.

The result, according to  Dietrich, is a sequence of “vision statements” with attendant to-do lists.

“It’s a nice list of ideas; now we have to get to work and get going on them.”

EFFICIENCY

A prevailing theme in the work seeks government efficiency through shared services.

Among actions being considered, for instance, is creation of a “shared purchasing agent” position — a person or officer who would organize joint purchasing for nearby towns, villages, school districts and the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

REDRAWING POLICE LINES

A similar and encompassing vision looks to reorganize law-enforcement departments, fire districts and judicial systems “to increase efficiency and reduce costs.”

The new planning strategy may, in the future, reorganize jurisdiction of Lake Placid Police Department to align with water and sewage district lines, thus ensuring that an increased tax base (water and sewer expansion) would “decrease actual tax totals for all services.”

The plan also suggests village officials consider Lake Placid Police Department become a branch of Essex County Sheriff’s Department or that the town and village enact a constable system, to include Ray Brook and the Saranac Lake section of North Elba.

The plan also recommends that the village and town “investigate the possibility of cost redistribution among fire districts.”

TRAFFIC

Updates to the plan encourage continued review for a parking garage in Lake Placid.

But Lake Placid and North Elba are also looking to create a bike path and pedestrian master plan, connecting the municipalities and identifying “gaps and needed improvements in sidewalks, paved shoulders, trails and other pedestrian/bicycle facilities.”

Part of the plan would study ways to connect downtown with existing trail systems at Henry’s Woods, the Jackrabbit Trail and the Lussi Trails behind the golf course.

Bike and pedestrian trails would also establish and marked shared roadways and designated bicycle paths.

TRANSPARENCY

To increase transparency in government process, the plan suggests adding web-based GIS maps to town and village websites and live streaming village and town board meetings.

Part of the plan reflects a mission put forth three years ago by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for New York state to reduce energy use by 2020.

In Lake Placid and North Elba, however, the plan is to reduce overall energy use by 10 percent by 2015, then 25 percent by 2020 and up to 40 percent by 2015.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com

HEARING TONIGHT

A public hearing on the proposed Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Comprehensive Plan will start at 4 p.m. in the first-floor conference room at the North Elba Town Hall on Main Street.

It will include a brief presentation on the document and opportunity for questions and input from residents. Town and village boards will vote to approve the updates after public comment has been reviewed.

Review and download the entire plan -- in 12 parts -- at: http://tinyurl.com/o55dbnb