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Lake George Performing Arts bldg. push shifts to Forum

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The people pursuing a year-round performing arts center in Lake George “have zeroed in” on the Lake George Forum building owned by Ralph Macchio, Sr., Mayor Bob Blais tells The Chronicle.

Alexander Lombard, whose Lake George Music Festival is going on right now, said during his opening night talk Monday evening that he, too, expects to go with the Forum option.

He told The Chronicle two weeks ago that the Music Festival had joined Fort William Henry’s plan to turn its Towers Hall building into “The Carriage House,” for weddings, banquets and performing arts.

Fort William Henry CEO Kathy Muncil, who is also a member of the Mayor’s committee, like Mr. Lombard, said the Fort “absolutely” still plans to restore the Carriage House with the option of a performing arts space.

She told The Chronicle, “I commend and fully support what they are doing. They are solidifying what they want. One of the things is control over their own space, and rightly so.”

Mayor Blais that the Forum owner “Ralph Macchio is eager to work with us.”

A meeting is planned with the committee at the Forum on Sept. 3 at 10 a.m.

Mayor Blais said he hopes to meet beforehand with Mr. Macchio and lawyers to consider how the Village, Town or a separate non-profit entity might acquire the Forum and two adjacent properties, including a hotel, that Mr. Macchio also owns.

Mayor Blais said the Forum was valued at $4 million when the Town looked at the property about a year ago.

He said The Forum offers opportunity for a larger performing arts space that could possibly be divided into two smaller spaces as events warrant.

It seats as many as 2,600 for the annual Elvis Festival — far more than the Towers Hall/Carriage House expects.

The Forum also has or has room for a lobby, kitchen, bar, office, backstage, green room and even a gallery, Mayor Blais said — and it would be their own facility to run.

“The feeling was, the Forum is a great space that is tremendously under-utilized,” the mayor said. “It will take a lot of work, and funding. We’re thinking it will take two or maybe three years to pull off.

“A lot of arts groups are coming forward, wanting to come to Lake George. The worst thing is not to do anything.”

New committee members

Mayor Blais said several people, including Glens Falls Symphony director Jennifer Brink, Bill Dow of the Lake George Steamboat Company and Tom Lloyd of Adirondack Studios have reached out to join the committee since it was announced three weeks ago.

They join director Jonathan Newell and board president Stu Kuby of the revived Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls, Lake George Arts Project director John Strong; Mr. Lombard, Mrs. Muncil, Patricia Dow of Lake George Steamboat Company; Town Historian Margy Mannix, Ken Mark of Adirondack Scenic, and town councilwoman Marisa Muratori. Info: 668-5771 ext. 8.

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