SARANAC LAKE - Local residents reacted with surprise, support and a little skepticism about Wednesday's announcement that a Malone developer wants to build a five-story, 90-room hotel on the shore of Lake Flower.
"Wow!" Jennifer Hunt posted on the Enterprise Facebook page below a link to the story on the newspaper's website.
"WOW is right!" added Shawn Boyer, a member of the village's Zoning Board of Appeals, which will be tasked with reviewing variance applications for the project. "I hope it doesn't block anyone('s) view of the lake as some would argue."
From left, the Lake Flower Inn, Adirondack Motel and Lake Side Motel are seen Wednesday from across Lake Flower's Pontiac Bay in Saranac Lake. A Malone-based businessman plans to buy and demolish the three motels and build a five-story, 90-room hotel on the site.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Several commenters said the project would help the village's economy.
"I love the idea," posted Deb Lawrence. "The town has been going through a rebirth this past decade and a new hotel on the lake would be welcome."
"This is exciting," wrote Tracey Schrader. "And needed. Dining along the water would be a great draw."
A few people were concerned about the height of the building and losing the three motels that sit there now.
"That's an awfully big hotel to put right by the water," Jamie Sheffield wrote.
"I have always thought those 3 motels give Saranac Lake character and charm," wrote Barbara Touby. "Oh well. I guess progress takes precedence. Too bad."
A handful of local residents attended Wednesday's press conference announcing the project, including Harrietstown Councilwoman Nichole Meyette.
"I think it's got the potential to be a really beneficial project," said Meyette, who stressed that she wasn't speaking on behalf of the town. "From a person who is involved in the (Can-Am) rugby tournament and planning it, and Winter Carnival, and a variety of different events, lodging is always an issue in Saranac Lake. Depending on how it's going to play out and the size of it and the scope, I think it's got the potential to bring a lot more business to Saranac Lake."
Jim McKenna, president of the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, said the project fits with the Destination Master Plan ROOST created several years ago for Saranac Lake.
"The plan identified lodging and restaurants on bodies of water, taking advantage of your paddling opportunities and really getting that critical mass and a resort atmosphere would lead to more activity on Main Street and Broadway," McKenna said. "I think this project is certainly timed right, right now. By parsing those three (motels) together, I think you've got something on the highway that should pan out not only well for you but for Saranac Lake as a destination."
The project is located on the Essex County side of the village. The county collects a bed tax that ROOST uses to market the region to potential visitors.