The Town of Lake George has been awarded a $1.5 million state grant to replace the English Brook culvert underneath Route 9N, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on July 5.
According to Dan Barusch, Lake George’s Director of Planning and Zoning, replacing infrastructure that was never engineered for extreme weather events is a priority for Lake George, the first community within the Adirondack Park to be certified as “Climate Smart” by New York.
Intense storms like 2018’s Florence, once expected to occur every hundred years or so, now arrive with increasing frequency.
Irene battered Lake George in 2011. It was the most destructive storm to hit New York since Hurricane Agnes in 1972, until 2012, that is, when New Yorkers experienced the wrath of Sandy.
An acknowledged function of climate change, extreme weather is something even small communities such as Lake George must prepare for, said Barusch.
That is precisely what the Town and the Village of Lake George are doing – preparing for the effects of climate change by finding ways to mitigate some of its damage – he said.
While meeting the criterion for the grant – hardening local infrastructure, boosting the resiliency of bridges and culverts – replacing the English Brook culvert will serve another purpose as well, said Barusch.
“It’s one piece of a huge, $25 million project,” said Barusch. “One part of that is widening the bridge that crosses English Brook.”
That $25 million project, which includes the creation of a new, $10 million sewer district, will extend sewer lines from Lake George Village’s Wastewater Treatment Plant to Hearthstone Park and collect sewage not only from the state campground but from every resort and residence lying in between.
Of those roughly 500 properties, several dozen of them are lake shore resorts, said Barusch
According to Barusch, the new sewer line will replace an antiquated main from Hearthstone to Lake George Village, which was never connected to the intermediate properties.
“We would love to get rid of the septic systems along that stretch of shoreline; that would be among the largest impacts of this project,” said Barusch.
“When Chris Navitsky evaluated septic systems within the town for us in 2019, we not only found that 33 to 40% of the systems failed to meet the state’s standards, many people had no clue where their septic systems were located or whether or not they had ever been pumped out,” said Barusch.
The $25 million project will also include the reconstruction of Route 9N from English Brook to Hearthstone Park. That will entail not only widening the English Brook bridge but, in places, the state highway itself. Plans also call for new lighting, the installation of stormwater management systems and the construction a multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists along the widened road.
Since first being elected Town Supervisor in 2017, Dennis Dickinson has called for the reconstruction of Route 9N.
The state highway lacked modern storm water management systems and the larger culverts necessary to accommodate today’s extreme weather, he has said.
Dickinson has also said the state’s Right of Way should be enlarged to include wider shoulders for bike paths and safe pedestrian sidewalks.
“There’s no shoulder at all in some places. I worry about the exchange students working in the Village who have to walk that road, often at night. It’s not safe,” he has stated.