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Village urges state to purchase Berry Pond tract

LAKEGEORGE-The trustees of Lake George Village approved a resolution Monday urging the state Department of Environmental Conservation to purchase the Berry Pond tract from the Lake George Land Conservancy for inclusion in the state Forest Preserve.

The village's resolution endorses the use of state Environmental Protection Funds for the acquisition.

The resolution cites that such a purchase expands recreational opportunities for local citizens and visitors, and the purchase protects the water of Lake George since the tract drains into the West Brook Conservation Park, which is being developed into an environmental park designed to purify stormwater and runoff from the Berry Pond watershed before it ends up in Lake George.

In 2008, the Lake George Land Conservancy bought the 1,436 acre Berry Pond tract from private landowners for $2.65 million, with the expectation the state would purchase it from them for Forest Preserve.

The Conservancy borrowed money from the Open Space institute for the purchase. Because the state has since balked on buying the land, the Conservancy is now short of money to repay the loan, which is coming due in January, village officials said.

Recently, Nancy Williams of the Lake George Land Conservancy told Lake George municipal officials in a letter that the faltering economy had apparently delayed the state's purchase.

The Berry Pond tract sprawls over forested upland portions of the towns of Warrensburg and Lake Luzerne, as well as Lake George.

The Town of Lake George, at a special meeting several weeks ago, approved a similar resolution supporting the DEC's timely purchase of the Berry Pond tract.

In other actions Monday, the Lake George Village Board:

• Authorized Mayor Robert Blais to sign a contract with Clark Patterson Lee engineering firm to oversee the West Brook Conservation park development. Blais noted that former Warren County Public Works Superintendent Bill Lamy of Warrensburg had been hired by the firm to oversee the project on behalf of the village and county.

• Approved a $449,863 contract with Elan Planning of Saratoga Springs to design the West Brook park, oversee public hearings on the initiative, and draft bid specifications for the project. The contract with Elan and Clark Patterson Lee is contingent on state funding of $2.5 million coming through as expected.

• Approved hiring Elan Planning to design the West Brook Park's 2.5-acre festival space in the West Brook park - a project of Lake George Village and the county - at an expense of $13,500. The village's share of this sum is $5,130.

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