LAKE PLACID - Officials from across the North Country were shocked Nov. 17 when the state announced it was canceling the popular winter and summer Empire State Games due to New York's ongoing fiscal crisis.
But the following morning, community leaders from the Lake Placid region announced they would pool their resources to save the 2011 winter games, despite losing state funding.
Representatives from the towns of North Elba and Wilmington, the village of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority made a joint decision to work together and keep the games alive.
With tourism officials estimating a loss of $1 million in economic impact as a result of the games' cancellation, Lake Placid Village Mayor Craig Randall said continuing the event is critical to the region's sustainability.
He added the loss of state funding actually presents an opportunity going forward, similar to efforts by Melvil Dewey in 1928 to bring the Olympics to Lake Placid.
"We have to look at this as one more of those activities in the history of the area where we could either allow it to go away, or we could step up to the table and perpetuate the vision of the Deweys and do what Lake Placid has done so well in the past with our friends and neighbors," Randall said. "We need to take advantage of an opportunity here and pick up these games. We have all the resources we need."
North Elba supervisor Roby Politi said the state's decision could be viewed as a disappointment - but that's not the Lake Placid way.
"Lake Placid is all about opportunities so we decided to pick up the ball and run with it," Politi said. "The state has said it can't do it. But Lake Placid is saying 'We can do it.' We have the community spirit, the resourcefulness - and we have great partnerships."