Adirondack Park Agency mulls move from Ray Brook to Saranac Lake
By Gwendolyn Craig
The Adirondack Park Agency is studying the feasibility of moving its headquarters to the historic Paul Smith’s Power and Light building at 3 Main St. in Saranac Lake, said APA spokesman Keith McKeever on Thursday.
The state’s 2022 budget included $29 million “to build a state of the art, energy efficient headquarters,” McKeever said. “The downtown location would be a unique opportunity to partner with local government, support a Downtown Revitalization Initiative community, increase accessibility to the public, and restore an existing historic building.”
“We will continue to work closely with Mayor Jimmy Williams and the village board on this exciting opportunity,” McKeever added.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office referred to the APA’s statement after the Explorer’s inquiries. The statement confirmed rumors circulating in the village about the APA’s interest in moving away from its current headquarters in Ray Brook, about 4 miles from Saranac Lake.
Mayor Williams responded to the Adirondack Explorer after the story was published online, and six days after the Adirondack Explorer first contacted his office.
“We have been discussing the possibility of a new APA headquarters in downtown Saranac Lake located at 1 & 3 Main St.,” Williams wrote. “The Village is excited to explore the potential for a mutually beneficial outcome.”
Jim Connolly, retired planning director of the APA, announced the rumor at a March 28 meeting about the village’s plans to build a public safety complex on Petrova Avenue. Connolly left the agency in September 2013. Village officials at the meeting did not respond to his comments, he said. Others who contacted the Explorer about the rumor also wondered why the APA has kept its plans and ideas for the $29 million secretive.
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The Explorer has inquired about the new headquarters repeatedly at monthly APA board meetings throughout the past year. Officials, including Executive Director Barbara Rice, contended they did not have any information to share at the time.
State Assemblyman Matthew Simpson, R-Horicon, and state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury said they had heard the APA was looking at several locations for a new headquarters, including the Saranac Lake building.
Simpson didn’t think the APA moving to the village would be too big a hurdle, though he wondered why the APA would move further away from the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s offices. The APA and DEC and the regional headquarters of the state police are in a state complex midway between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. There is also an arboretum on the campus called the “Forest of Heroes,” honoring 19 people, who made a difference for the Adirondack Park. The latest tree planted was last summer in remembrance of Fred Monroe, a longtime park resident and local government advocate.
McKeever said the agency had no further comment until the feasibility study is complete.
The Saranac Lake Police Department currently operates out of 1-3 Main St. and Police Chief Darin Perrotte said he did not have “any direct knowledge of this.” He deferred questions to village manager Erik Stender. Stender did not return multiple calls.
Jordanna Mallach, supervisor for the town of Harrietstown where the village is located, said she did not know anything about the APA or the village’s plans. The “village owns 1-3 Main so something could be in the works and I would have no idea,” she told the Explorer.
LeRoy Hogan says
Would be quite ironic if the new site is non-conforming, indeed.
Why noit stay put, $29 Million? This is crazy!!
George B Penrose says
Shouldn’t we be disturbed by the lack of transparency here. $29 million and no one knows anything and can’t find out. It’s in the budget and our politicians don’t seem to think this is a lot of money? This reminds me of the $20 million dollar welcome centers that were built which are basically a place for people to use the bathroom and walk their dog.
Keith J Murphy says
APA offices seem well situated right now in Ray Brook, adjacent to several other state agencies. There is plenty of room to expand there. The old downtown power building is much better suited to other purposes such as housing combined with some first-floor retail or commercial space.
john bottiroli says
I would agree with Mr. K.J.Murphy about the use and location-Not sure about adequete parking at the downtown location–and WHY is it needed???
Concerned Citizen says
According to posts made by Village Trustee Rich Shapiro on the APA Facebook page, the Agency intends to construct a new 3-story 18,000 square foot building in addition to leasing the existing Paul Smiths Power & Light building.
LeRoy Hogan says
In the meantime, the don’t even let people extend their boathouses.
Tom Paine says
Twenty-nine million dollars disappears in a flash. The NYS “Black Hole”, alias the general fund.