It’s a new day at Silver Bay. On Lake George but apart from Lake George, or at least perceived as such for much of its 120-year history, Silver Bay YMCA now welcomes its neighbors with open arms.
As of November, 2022, residents of Bolton Landing, Silver Bay, Hague, Ticonderoga, Crown Point and Putnam have access to its fitness facilities at no cost – a privilege that will only grow in value once the Fisher Gym is winterized.
A $1 million federal grant, announced in February, will help Silver Bay install heating and air conditioning in the 118-year-old building, allowing it to host even more fitness and wellness classes and more activities, such as indoor pickleball.
“These improvements will positively impact the physical and mental health of local residents as well as create jobs,” a press release from Silver Bay stated.
As part of the renovations, the gym’s Fisher Lounge will be reopened “as a community gathering spot,” the press release noted.
“We look forward to serving our community in a greater way with a wellness center and a place for folks to congregate and enjoy one another’s company year-round,” said Peter Doliber, Silver Bay’s CEO.
Moreover, Silver Bay is hosting a variety of new events that are open to the public as well as guests, from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, including a first-ever Bluegrass Music Festival September 15-17.
“This is the first year that Silver Bay is really expanding in this outward-facing direction; it’s very exciting,” said Walt Lender, who is charged with nurturing and reenforcing relationships with the surrounding communities.
Lender, for many years the executive director of the Lake George Association, was named Silver Bay YMCA’s Vice President for Development and Government Relations in January.
“It’s a new position; it’s part of a plan to strengthen ties with the community, with local governments and with elected officials,” Lender said in a recent interview.
According to Lender, it makes perfect sense for Silver Bay to be “a leader in all things Lake George.”
“Silver Bay has a huge community impact; upon the economy, upon civic organizations, upon local families and the workforce, upon the environment. We have a mile of shoreline and 700 acres of ecologically significant lands. So, it’s an important part of the watershed as well,” said Lender.
The current initiative merely “expands the imprint of Silver Bay and reaffirms what Silver Bay has always been about,” said Lender.
As envisioned, that initiative not only comprises a policy of open doors to the surrounding communities but wider access to those communities – to their businesses, museums, attractions, special events – for Silver Bay guests.
“We’re developing partnerships that will incentivize our guests to go out and see what’s going on in Ticonderoga, in Hague and in Bolton Landing,” said Lender. “We’re really trying to integrate everybody into one community.”
Lender’s new brief is one that he is well qualified to hold. A graduate of Ticonderoga Central School, he returned to his hometown after college and graduate school to serve as the Executive Director of PRIDE of Ticonderoga and Director of Development and the Government and Corporate Relations Officer for Fort Ticonderoga before joining the LGA as its second professional executive director in 135 years.
A former board member of Silver Bay YMCA, Lender remains active in both civic and environmental affairs as a member of many other committees and boards, including the Ticonderoga Planning & Zoning Board and the boards of Lakes to Locks Passage, the Lake George Land Conservancy and the Elizabethtown Community Hospital. He is the chairman of the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s NY Citizen’s Advisory Committee, which helps steer funds to the southern stretch of the Lake Champlain Basin. He is also slated to become a member of the board of the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce in the very near future.
“I really enjoy working with those non-profit organizations whose causes and missions I support,” said Lender. “For example, this past November I joined the board of the Lake George Land Conservancy, and I’m especially excited about that because it’s an organization that, by protecting the watershed, does so much to protect the lake.”
After devoting eighteen years of his professional life to lake protection, Lender expects to carry on that work at Silver Bay.
“Lake protection is not only a commitment of mine; it is one shared by the leadership here,” he said. “Protection of the lake is written right into our mission statement. It’s one of our core values.”