On Thursday, July 13, Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, filed a lawsuit to counter efforts on the part of the Village of Lake Placid to seize its property via eminent domain.
The Village asserts that the two parcels, at 2476 and 2478 Main Street, are needed to assemble a site for a proposed parking garage. At a public hearing on the issue held on March 13, 2017 in Lake Placid, members of the public were virtually unanimous in their rejection of the Village board’s proposal to build a garage on the site – and the proposal to use eminent domain to seize the property of a nonprofit institution. Press accounts and social media postings have similarly been harshly critical of the plan. Despite this, the Village Board on June 12 held a special meeting during which it issued a determination and findings that there is a public need for the museum’s property. The board meeting was held following the expiration of the 90-day time within which, by law, the Board was required to issue its determination and findings. The Village also failed to hold a public hearing on the environmental impact of the proposed garage project.
Adirondack Experience is petitioning the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, Third Department, to vacate the Village board’s action. The petition is based on both procedural flaws in the legal steps the Village has pursued and on the fact that the Village has failed to demonstrate that there is a need for the public taking of the museum’s property.
Within days, Adirondack Experience will also file a separate suit against the Town of North Elba to reverse suspicious punitive actions taken by Town Assessor on March 14 in an apparent effort to pressure the museum and support the eminent domain effort. On March 14, the day following the Village’s March 13 eminent domain hearing, the Assessor revoked the museum property’s tax exempt status and slashed the property’s assessed value from $1,188,000 (it had been $1,888,400 in 2010) to a rock bottom $850,000. The $850,000, not coincidentally, reflects the amount the Village would like to pay for the property, which was appraised at $1,500,000 in 2015. The second lawsuit will be filed in Supreme Court against the Town of North Elba and seek to have the Assessor’s punitive action reversed and the tax exemption restored.
David M. Kahn, Adirondack Experience’s Executive Director, said, “The Village of Lake Placid board’s attempt to grab the Adirondack Experience property for pennies on the dollar is unconscionable. They have damaged the value of the museum’s assets by attempting to manipulate its apparent value though the slight-of-hand reduction of its assessed value. We are confident that the courts will give the museum a fair hearing and put an end to this unprecedented assault on a nonprofit organization.”
About Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake
The Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, accredited by the American Association of Museums, shares the history and culture of the Adirondack region in 24 historic and contemporary buildings on a 121-acre campus in the Central Adirondacks, and in free programs at schools throughout Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington Counties. The museum is supported in part with donations from the general public, with some general operating support made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. For additional information, call 518-352-7311 or visit www.theADKX.org.