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LG celebrates opening of Charles Wood Environmental Park & Festival Commons

Grand opening ceremonies took place Wednesday, May 29, celebrating the Charles R. Wood Environmental Park and Festival Commons, created from the former site of the Gaslight Village theme park in Lake George.

The 12.5-acre park filters sediments that flow toward Lake George, and the festival space hosts numerous events, like Americade this weekend. There are restored wetlands, a nature trail, a unique “natural” playground and a skateboard park.

Elected officials, leaders from the Lake George Association, FUND for Lake George and the Lake George Land Conservancy, and DEC regional director Bob Stegemann all praised the West Brook Conservation Initiative that created the park.

“This is already a part of your living legacy,” said the FUND’s Jeff Kileen to Mayor Blais, now the longest-serving mayor in state history.

Private grants came from the Charles R. Wood Foundation, the Wright Family Foundation and the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation.

Mayor Blais said the goal was to “create something that would be a legacy for generations to enjoy.” He praised Elan Planning and Design, Clark Patterson Lee and the Chazen Companies.

Walt Lender said in prepared remarks that when he became executive director of the Lake George Association in 2005, he met with Mayor Blais and “I learned a lot about an amazing opportunity that we had to work with this 12.5-acre parcel — the former Gaslight Village and Charley’s Saloon — that had so many unexplored possibilities.

Dignitaries galore. Speaking: Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson. Seated, front row, from left: LGA executive director Walt Lender, Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino, FUND for Lake George chairman Jeff Killeen, Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais, Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, DEC regional director Robert Stegemann, Master of Ceremonies Walt Adams, Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Gina Mintzer, Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, Heather Ward from the Wright Family Foundation, and Charlene Wood from the Charles R. Wood Foundation. Chronicle photo/Gordon Woodworth

“So we worked together with all of our partners, brought in engineers and experts, brought in attorneys — many attorneys — to help sort through the complex legal contracts to put this stormwater filtering/community space project together.”

Now, he said, “We have a restored wetland, to filter nutrients and pollutants from stormwater before it gets to the Lake, we have nature trails and an outdoor classroom…We have protected open space that leaves room for events and activities that create economic development.”

Chris Navitsky, the FUND for Lake George’s Waterkeeper, said in prepared remarks, “The West Brook Conservation portion of Charles R. Wood Park, with its man-made remediation and filtering ponds, nestled in a beautiful park-like setting, is treating millions of gallons of stormwater runoff — and not only meeting but exceeding our goals for keeping harmful nutrients and pollutants out of The Queen of American Lakes!

This will be “a legacy for generations to enjoy,” Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais told the crowd. Chronicle photos/Gordon Woodworth

“Our goals for the wetland complex were to remove 50% of the phosphorus and 90% of the Total Suspended Sediment from the stormwater runoff originating from the 64-acre Route 9 commercial corridor.

“Today we have achieved:

“Average removal of 85% of the phosphorus, well above our expectations;

“Average removal of 92% of Total Suspended Sediments, gain exceeding our goals;

“And the wetlands actually function to cleanse groundwater or base flow that enters the wetlands during non-storm events.” — Gordon Woodworth/Mark Frost

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