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Supervisors' showdown approaching on Gaslight buildings

QUEENSBURY - The longstanding controversy over whether to demolish or renovate two buildings on the former Gaslight Village property is headed for a conclusion Monday, as county supervisors are scheduled to vote on the buildings' fate.

For nearly a year, county officials have gone back and forth on the issue, deciding to raze the Opera House and Cavalcade of Cars buildings, then several weeks later endorsing a plan to rehabilitate them. But a final decision deadline, self-imposed by the supervisors, has been set for Monday.

The aim is to get the buildings' fate settled in coordination with state Department of Transportation's plans to develop the West Brook environmental park at the former Gaslight site and perhaps take advantage of grant funding offered for demolition.

Those supporting retaining the buildings have argued they'd be useful, when rehabilitated, to host events and trade shows, keep Lake George competitive with other destinations, provide shelter for outdoor events in bad weather, and boost the local economy substantially.

Proponents of demolishing the buildings contend that the buildings detract from the purpose and appearance of the park, would be expensive to rehabilitate and maintain, and were outdated and inappropriate.

Several owners of large venues have argued for demolition, while others, including local Chamber of Commerce executives, tourism officials and owners of vast accommodations, have presented passionate arguments for retaining and refurbishing the structures on a 2.5 acre plot reserved for festivals.

A number of local independent town of Lake George citizens, led by Joanne Gavin and David and Kathy Redpath, have said rehabilitation would not boost the economy and would burden taxpayers.

Lake George Town Supervisor Frank McCoy has favored refurbishing the buildings, as did his predecessor, Lou Tessier, who spent town money and labor on the buildings' partial rehabilitation.

Redpath and Gavin have clashed with local officials, accusing them of hiding the true cost of the renovation work to date. The town leaders have denied such charges.

Recently, county officials have suggested letting the town of Lake George take over any remaining rehabilitation, or even selling the county's partial interest in the property.

Two weeks ago, a public hearing on the buildings drew the largest crowd in over a decade, and most favored demolition.

Several dozen people voiced their opinions, and a meeting was set for Monday April 12 for a vote on the issue.

County Gaslight Ad-Hoc Committee Chairman said at the hearing that there would be no public comment aired at the Monday meeting, scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

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