As circus departs Lake George, officials look ahead to park's redevelopment
New York secretary of state to visit site Tuesday
The Dalian Troupe perform their unique brand of acrobatics on bicycles during the Big Apple Circus production of "Legendarium" in Lake George's Charles R. Wood Park Wednesday, July 17, 2013.
(Jason McKibben - firstname.lastname@example.org)
By JAMIE MUNKS
July 28, 2013
LAKE GEORGE -- By the next time a big top tent goes up at the former Gaslight Village site, its surroundings will likely look markedly different.
On Sunday, the Big Apple Circus wrapped up its second run at the festival space of the former Gaslight Village site, where officials hope construction on the Charles R. Wood Park will begin soon.
Initially, the goal was to begin construction this month when the circus pulled out of town, but contracts from the state were delayed.
Lake George Mayor Robert Blais said last week the contract authorizing the municipalities to build the park and festival space had come through, and had been returned to Albany.
“We are getting closer to construction,” Blais said.
At this point, there is potential for starting construction in the fall, he said.
New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales will visit the site at 11 a.m. Tuesday to commission a stormwater management and treatment project, and to showcase plans for the park’s future development.
Members of the Lake George Watershed Coalition have for several years been working on stormwater management plans to reduce lake pollution by collecting and treating stormwater.
Thousands of native plants were put in last year to help filter stormwater before it enters the West Brook, and ultimately Lake George.
Plans for the space include the development of an environmental park with pathways and benches, a children’s interactive play area, a skate park and a public festival space, where events like the circus can be held.
The Big Apple Circus was the first major event to be held in the area that’s planned to become the park’s festival space, during its first run last summer.
The Big Apple Circus held the last of its Lake George performances over the weekend, and circus spokesman Phil Thurston said last week ticket sales weren’t meeting goals for the second Lake George season, and hoped attendance would pick up for the final weekend.
“We’ve had a bit of a sophomore slump,” Thurston said. “It’s been a little disappointing.”
Attendance at the circus was down from last year, when the Lake George run fell short of breaking even. Blais expressed concern last week that if circus attendance didn’t pick up, there was a possibility the circus wouldn’t return in the future.
Blais and circus officials attributed the slump in part to a heat wave during the time the circus was in town.
“In the two years they’ve been here, there’s been extreme heat,” Blais said. “Folks tend to migrate to the lake.”
Circus officials will need to determine in the future whether the big top will return to Lake George, and whether that happens next year will depend on the construction schedule for the park’s festival space.
“It would be nice to come back and see what they do with it,” Thurston said.