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Gaslight Opera House's future now in question

QUEENSBURY - A building which was once touted as the future site of festivals and outdoor entertainment events in Lake George may now be doomed.

The former Gaslight Village Opera House is now more likely to be demolished this spring, as supervisors voted Feb. 5 to add the cost of its destruction to a $1.2 million state grant that Lake George Association has been promised for developing the surrounding 12-acre site, which once hosted Gaslight Village, into a stormwater-purifying marshland and park.

Although county and Lake George town officials had expressed staunch support of rehabilitating both the Opera House and the adjacent Cavalcade of Cars building into headquarters for festivals, county supervisors' support for the Opera House receded Thursday as they reviewed an engineering report that estimated renovations to the structure would cost $900,000.

Although festivals, expos and rallies are a keystone of the county's economy and event headquarters were hailed as a way to attract more such enterprises, the $900,000 figure prompted several supervisors to say Thursday they could no longer support fixing up the building.

According to a report prepared by local engineer Clark Patterson, bringing the 50-year-old Opera House and Cavalcade of Cars buildings up to code and making them functional would cost nearly $1.5 million total. Retaining the buildings would be at odds with the aims of the three environmental groups - the Lake George Association, the Fund for Lake George and the Lake George Land Conservancy - which hold a conservation easement for the all but 2.5 acres of the 12 acre parcel. The 2.5 acre section has been designated by the municipalities as a festival space.

The former Cavalcade of Cars building, which has massive steel trusses and a concrete floor, was nearly included Friday in the resolution to seek funds for demolition, but a last minute plea by Lake George Supervisor Lou Tessier spared it for now.

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