Recently I had the pleasure of being one of the guest speakers at the 15th annual Adirondack Park Local Government Day conference, held at the Crowne Plaza Resort in Lake Placid. The topic I was to speak on was "Engaging volunteers, securing funding and maintaining enthusiasm to accomplish projects." The point being: State and local governments can't do it all. So just how does a group get their project built?
The Adirondack Carousel, right here in Saranac Lake, is a perfect example of finding a way to make it happen. From the beginning we said, "It will be built with community hands," and it has been.
In the beginning, 2001, it took one local woman, Karen Loffler, who had a dream, and that dream was to build and maintain a handcrafted carousel featuring 24 wildlife figures and a handicap-accessible chariot to be housed in a year-round pavilion with space for programs and special events. The vision was to involve, encourage and inspire all youth to appreciate where we live, be environmentally responsible, be healthy, enjoy the great outdoors and have fun - all of this by fusing art, education and entertainment under one roof.
People gather inside the Adirondack Carousel pavilion in Saranac Lake March 10 for the unveiling of a new animal, Harry the hare, and a handicap-accessible chariot in the form of a Chris-Craft motorboat.
(Photo — Kate-Lyn Knight)
And one man, a local contractor, Rich Kraft, put that dream on paper and created what is still used today - his artistic rendering of the carousel pavilion.
And then there were past board members, like the late Chuck Brumley, Joyce Henklein, Elaine Holmlund and so many others who served on the board in the early days and contributed so much. And our sponsors and donors, many of them providing continuous support from the very beginning. While Tom Michael was mayor, he served on the "site search" committee and was able to arrange an operating agreement between the village and the Adirondack Carousel which allowed the carousel pavilion to be built in the William Morris Park, at no cost to village taxpayers. Much-needed help came from local attorney Bob White in drawing up that 20-year operating agreement. Carvers from around the country, from Montana to Massachusetts and many states in between, agreed to carve the Adirondack animals. Spencer Boatworks agreed to build and donate the handicap-accessible chariot, a Chris-Craft. Golden Paints in New Berlin agreed to donate the paints to be used by the carvers. The current board, what I call "our dream team" then came together.
There was something special about bringing a carousel to the area that struck a chord with so many of us and encouraged us to volunteer on the board for different reasons. My husband and I fell in love with the first carving, the black fly, and before you know it, we joined the board. Harry Stuart, who grew up in Saranac Lake, wanted to give something back to his hometown. (Harry's high school class, '61, sponsored the red squirrel.) Randy Cross saw a need and volunteered his contractor services at a critical time for the carousel. Emily Fogarty, a lifelong resident, was intrigued with the idea, joined the board and ran the successful promotion to "pave the path" to the pavilion with engraved pavers. Geoff Sanford created our fabulous website and brochures with the assistance of Kathy Knapton. We then received a $20,000 grant from Sen. Betty Little to purchase new playground equipment.
And then the real fun began when we applied for and were awarded $340,000 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to build the pavilion and purchase the mechanicals. North Woods Engineering drew up the design and plans, giving us a generous amount of in-kind services, M&E Engineering in Albany, a college friend of our local supporter George Bailey, created the required manual for the state grant, charging us nothing. Geomatics Surveying helped out many times, and I mean many times. As our grant administrator, the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation handled many of the tedious grant details for us.
The line of true local heroes continued to arrive in the form of Stacey and Randy Schrader of Schrader Builders. Because they love Saranac Lake and because they loved the project, and our passion, they agreed to do the site and excavation work at no charge - a huge, huge job to say the least. A company in Boston, with ties to the area, agreed to donate the material for the radiant heat and a boiler. Tom Hyde and Hyde Fuel agreed to install the radiant heat and hook up the boiler, also giving us the space in the building next to Sturdy Supply to use as a temporary office. Sturdy was incredibly generous over and over again, lending us tools.
And the help just kept coming. Tim Moody did all the plumbing as a donation, HomEnergy, Coakley Ace Hardware, Aubuchon Hardware, Newman and Holmes, Compass Printing, the UPS Store in Lake Placid, High Peaks Embroidery, Adirondack Audit, Graymont cement, Trudeau Sand & Gravel, Art Leavitt Stone and Gravel, Village of Saranac Lake, Specialty Wood Products, Bear Essentials and Adirondack Woods all helped in various and wonderful ways. Contractors such as Jeffords Steel, Tug Duffy and Holrock Concrete bid the work for cost or, in a few instances, less. Additionally we received generous support from Curtis Lumber, Haselton and Ward lumber, Kim LaDuke, Swift Supply, Hulburt's, CED, Adirondack Audit and Dan Ryan, our steady electrician.
Volunteer labor came from individuals too numerous to name and from groups like the Lake Placid Rotary, Adirondack Health, Saranac Lake High School art and technology class, and Plattsburgh Adirondack Adventures. Campmates from Moriah Shock prison have spent weeks at the site doing a significant amount of labor and will continue to do so for many more weeks to come. Sue Bibeau, graphic designer, and Alice Vera, Jack LaDuke, Barry Lobdell and John DiGiacomo, all photographers, have donated their time and skill taking pictures of the animals, medallions and events. The Press-Republican, Valley News and Adirondack Daily Enterprise have covered the project for many years, and I'm sure wondering "Will it ever be done?" A beautiful piece of music, "Saranac Lake Waltz," written in 1903 but with a carousel sound to it, is being donated by St. Luke's Church.
And it only gets better and more beautiful. Maria Clark, a senior at Saranac Lake High School, donated her drawing of what is to become the carousel's "signature" T-shirt - the black fly. All the colors of the pavilion, inside and out, were selected by local artist Georgeanne Gaffney, and under the direction of Sandra Hildreth, local artist, all the panels, scenes around the area, and medallions of flowers found in the Adirondacks are being painted and donated by local artists Tim Fortune, Nancy Brossard, Meg Bernstein, Cat Micheels, Lee Ann Sporn, Ken Wiley, John Ward, Parmalee Tolken, Georgeanne Gaffney and, of course, Sandra Hildreth. Our welcome ticket booth is being built by local craftsman Robin Johnson, and to top it off, the weathervane of a fly fisherman surrounded by mountains and trees is being crafted by David Woodward of Train Brook Forge.
To so many people we are grateful and give thanks. So to answer the question: How do you get a project built? It's simple; it TAKES A COMMUNITY!
Marge Glowa lives in Onchiota and is director of the Adirondack Carousel's capital campaign.