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Lake George: Wind-blown ice sheets do big damage

Crushing blows: Docks on LG are no match for wind pushing thick ice sheets

By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor

High winds from all directions blew thick sheets of ice on Lake George this spring, causing widespread dock damage in the southern basin and elsewhere.

“There is millions of dollars worth of dock damage on the lake,” said lifelong lake resident Dan Davies, who owns Davies-Davies & Associates Real Estate.

“It’s going to take years to repair all of the damage because there just aren’t enough dock builders up here.”

To make matters worse, Mike Grasso, a principal at Cool Insuring who has a home on Harris Bay, said, “No homeowners insurer that I am aware of will cover docks. Homeowners insurance excludes damage to piers.”

Lake George Park Commission executive director Dave Wick said, “We track dock damage anecdotally, and this seems to be a heavy year because there’s so much ice. The ice thaws from the shore out, and the wind picks up and moves the ice sheets around.”

A covered dock at Takundewide on Cleverdale collapsed under the pressure of the ice. Chronicle photo/Gordon Woodworth

Mr. Wick said the Commission has received “40 applications for dock damage where people want to make changes to what was there.” He said that’s not unusual for this time of year given that there are 3,800 docks on Lake George.

Dock builder Frank DiNardo, owner of Elite Dock Company on Cleverdale, said the ice was “up to 10 inches thick vs. the 1-to-4 inches it normally is. And then we got hit with the wind.”

He said, “I’ve got 23 places that I take care of that have docks damaged, and that’s on top of the regularly scheduled work. There’s lots of damage. There are structures in the water, shorelines that have been changed.”

He said while most of his work is in the southern basin, “we just finished replacing the front crib of a dock up in Northwest Bay. We built the dock last fall, and were just up there because the gentleman’s daughter is getting married in May or June on the dock.”

Dennis MacElroy, whose family has owned a home on Assembly Point since 1955, said, “What is different this year is that there is significant damage in many different areas of the lake.

Dennis MacElroy’s dock on Assembly Point on April 11th when a second wave of ice did more damage. Dennis MacElroy photo

“Over the approximate two-week period when the wind was blowing hard and the ice was moving, the wind came from all directions at different times. No one was spared. We get hit from a northwest wind typically, and also a south wind, but this year the strongest winds were westerly.

“Also the ice was particularly dense at ice-out, and not as honeycombed as usual. It had more mass behind it as it was being blown around.”

On Cleverdale, at the Takundewide resort and residences, covered docks that a deck on top crumpled when wind pushed a massive ice sheet into Harris Bay. Several docks were destroyed at Shore Colony, on the eastern side of Assembly Point, and there was dock damage in Dunham’s Bay, Dark Bay and on Pilot Knob.

Dennis MacElroy’s dock on the west side of Assembly Point sustained significant damage from the ice. This photo is from April 11th. Photo by Dennis MacElroy

Steve Jackoski said his dock at Takundewide was spared, but others that stood for decades were reduced to piles of splintered wood.

“You can’t imagine how powerful the wind is,” he said.

And, he adds, “Debris in the lake will be terrible this year.”

Mr. DiNardo believes part of the problem is the “overuse of ice eaters. People keep them on too long, and there’s a lack of education among a lot of new homeowners on the lake.”

He said the “water around the edges of the lake opened up a lot earlier than normal,” partly because people kept their ice eaters on too long.

Mr. DiNardo says, “The closer you can keep the ice to shore, the better off everyone will be.”

This dock on Dark Bay was no match for advancing ice. Photo supplied

Mr. Wick said Lake George attorney Greg Teresi asked to speak to the Park Commission at its April 24th meeting, and argues that “ice eaters and bubblers exacerbate the problem,” but Mr. Wick says, “There is no evidence that is the case.”

As for floating debris, Mr. Wick said, “Our officers will pick it up or drag it behind the boat when they come across it. Trees are the biggest challenge. If they are still attached to the shore, they are the homeowner’s responsibility.”

He said two Lake George Park Commission boats will be on the water starting May 1st, with full patrols in place by the end of June.

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