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Not Much Support for Saving Gaslight Village Buildings

March 22nd, 2010

Warren County’s Supervisors may be wavering on whether to preserve or condemn the two buildings that remain standing at Gaslight Village, but the time for a decision is fast approaching.

A $200,000 grant has been awarded to
the three environmental organizations that own an easement on all but 2.5 acres of the Lake George property to demolish Charleys Saloon and some smaller structures this summer, and the county must decide whether it wants that grant to also pay for the demolition of Gaslight Village.

“I know there will be unhappy people whichever way we go,” said Supervisor Bill Kenny, who chairs a committee of Supervisors monitoring the project, which will include a park and water pollution controls.

Today, March 22, Kenny hosted a public meeting to solicit opinion about the future of the Opera House and Calvacade of Cars buildings.

The majority of speakers favored demolition of both buildings.

Attached are comments from two speakers, Betty Spinelli and Joe Stanek.

Betty Spinelli:

I am a resident in the town of Lake George and I’m pleased that the County Board of Supervisors is hearing comments from the public. I have been familiar with the GLV project for over four years.

I care about the economic stability of the area as well as the lake and scenic beauty of the area. Since the onset of the project I felt that a beautiful environmental park with an open area for festivals and events would provide an attractive and welcoming entrance to Lake George. The property would be converted from a visual liability to an engaging asset.

The buildings that currently exist on the property are eyesores and should be demolished. That includes the Opera Building and the Cavalcade of Cars building which are in need of costly upgrades and not worth spending the money on for required structural changes. There are those on the County Board who persist in ignoring multiple engineering studies – their continued denial in defense of keeping the buildings shows little regard for the findings of experts, public opinion and taxpayer money.

Furthermore, as you are fully aware, a delay in deciding to take down these buildings would mean that the County would not be able to take advantage of grant money currently available for demolition. As Warren County Supervisors you have been addressing financial issues and the consequences of financial constraints.

This is not the time for the County to spend money to renovate these buildings; it is instead, the time for the County to take advantage of the grant money and demolish the buildings as soon as possible.

Joe Stanek:

I am a resident in the town of Lake George and have been associated with the GLV project for over four years. I am familiar with the buildings – both inside and outside and I coordinated completion of the Archeological digs, the efforts of the Stormwater Engineering team and the Hazardous Materials Analysis. I believe the Cavalcade of Cars still has asbestos in the roof.

For two years, people have requested a written Business Plan for the use of the buildings. Today, there is still no Business Plan that would identify potential building uses with a marketing plan and itemized costs to bring the buildings up to code. There is stiff competition for the convention business and some competing facilities, like Turning Stone, are offering free use of their sites.

The arguments justifying the use of the GLV building are the same arguments used to justify the Forum which went bankrupt. Compared to The Forum, the Cavalcade of Cars Building is 1/3rd of the square footage and is certainly not a state-of-the art facility with “column free” open gathering space, an Olympic size ice arena, meeting rooms and a café.

After evaluation of the buildings, multiple engineering studies have identified the costs of upgrading the buildings to meet code. Despite professional, expert opinion, these cost estimates are being ignored.

The Town of Lake George property tax rate was increased 28% for 2010. The County property tax for the residents of Lake George has increased 160% over the last six years. The economic climate and common sense indicate that the town should not be spending any money on speculative venture at this time.

The county is major stake holder in this property and after two years without a documented Business Plan, repeated denial of building rehab costs and accelerating tax rates, it is time for the County Board of Supervisors to make a good business decision and vote for the demolition of the buildings.

Kenny’s Gaslight Village Ad Hoc Committee will meet again on Monday, April 12 at 9:30 am at the Warren County Municipal Center


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