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Lowe’s closure a reality check: Soul searching needed

Editorial

Just two years ago Ticonderoga leaders envisioned a vibrant commercial district at its “Four Corners.” The area surrounding the intersection of Routes 9N and 74 already had Wal-mart attracting thousands of shoppers. Lowe’s and Dunkin’ Donuts had just opened. Rite Aid, wanting to be where the action is, moved from its downtown location to the “Four Corners.” Plans were being discussed to bring national hotel and restaurant chains along with several smaller retailers to the area.

To prepare for the economic boom, the town extended infrastructure in the area. New York State modified Route 9N to handle the expected increase in traffic.

Ticonderoga seemed poised to make an economic leap. Today, those dreams have been dashed. Dunkin’ Donuts closed just a few months after opening and now sits empty. Plans for the hotel and restaurant collapsed. This week Lowe’s unexpectedly closed, leaving 86 people unemployed and a 124,000 square feet building empty.

Wal-mart remains and — like it or not — is the community’s retail engine.

When Wal-mart expressed interest in Ticonderoga more than a decade ago, a common debate took place. Are “big box” stores good for communities? With the loss of Lowe’s, that debate has been renewed without an answer. Lowe’s failed, leaving behind a huge warehouse-type building that could sit vacant for years. Wal-mart has succeeded, providing jobs, area shoppers goods and local government taxes.

Where does Ticonderoga go from here?

No one can accuse local leaders of being disengaged. The community has the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership, Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance, Ti Economic Development Committee, PRIDE and the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce all working to improve the local economy. And it has plans. There’s the Quality Destination Plan, the National Main Street Trust plan and plans to construct a replica 18th Century sawmill to serve as a tourist draw and economic hub.

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