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Citizens air views on Gaslight buildings

QUEENSBURY - During what was the second most crowded public hearing in Warren County in over a decade, about 30 people expressed their views Monday on whether to save or demolish the Opera House and Cavalcade of Cars buildings on the former Gaslight Village plot in Lake George Village.

About two-thirds of the people speaking out favored demolishing the Opera House and Cavalcade of Cars buildings on the festival space of what is to be the West Brook environmental park.

Those supporting retaining the buildings cited 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.

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detracted from the purpose and appearance of the park, would be expensive to rehabilitate and maintain, and were outdated and inappropriate.

In a straw vote, about three quarters of the 75 or so citizens attending indicated they favored demolition.

Some supervisors downplayed the tilted ratio, noting that the opponents of rehabilitation were well-organized in contrast to the proponents of fixing up the buildings.

Joanne Gavin, representing the Lake George Citizens Group, reiterated her longstanding support of demolition.

She said she action now to demolish both buildings was the clear, sensible, and popular option, as grant money would pay for the demolition. She said to do otherwise was a foolish, wasteful choice.

"How is it that 'back-door' politics have ruled this 'junk' building situation for some town supervisors?" she asked. "Why is this even a debate?"

Robert Foulk said that the buildings couldn't serve a viable purpose without spending a sizeable sum of tax dollars.

"In a period of financial distress, renovating these buildings is a wildly inconsistent plan."

Nina Chase, a 92-year-old Lake George resident, voiced disagreement. She said the cost estimates for rehabilitation were overstated, the buildings had valuable extensive steel superstructure that could be retained, and she suggested that much of the renovation labor could be accomplished by volunteers.

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