LAKE GEORGE — More than 300 acres of pristine land on French Mountain will be protected from development with the Lake George Land Conservancy agreeing to purchase the property for a half-million dollars.
Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said Monday that the conservancy plans to put conservation easements on the property, located off Bloody Pond Road, and then sell the land to Lake George and Queensbury at a discounted price of about $134,000 — split equally among the two towns.
The land is located about halfway up the back side of French Mountain and faces south to the village with expansive views of the lake. The property is also located near the Warren County Bikeway.
Dickinson said the plan is to create some trails, primarily mountain biking trails, but there would also be hiking and bicycling trails. Other ideas are to create a parking area with a trailhead, a pavilion and an outdoor classroom to take advantage of the proximity to Lake George Elementary School, according to Dickinson.
He said at Monday’s Town Board meeting that it is “a phenomenal opportunity to not only conserve land but increase the recreational resource that we have here to prevent future development of that landscape.”
In addition, Dickinson said the conservancy would assist in stewardship of the land even after the transfer is completed, including upkeep of the trail facilities or other recreational uses. Lake George town employees would take care of the day-to-day activities, such as removing garbage in the parking lot.
Dickinson said he would like to call it McPhillips Preserve Park after the owners of the property. He made that offer as part of the negotiations. The McPhillips family was prominent in the logging industry.
“The property was put on the market for a lot more,” he said.
Land Conservancy Executive Director Jamie Brown said he is hoping that the sale will close by the end of the summer.
Brown said this is a great opportunity to protect the lake from contamination and to preserve views of the water body.
There are about 15 houses that could be built on the property, which could threaten water quality, according to Brown.
“It’s right next to East Brook, one of the tributaries down to Lake George,” he said.
In addition, it opens up recreational opportunities. The conservancy earlier this year acquired another 12-acre parcel next to Lake George Elementary School.
“We hope that eventually we’ll have some trails and educational signage. The properties will really complement each other,” he said.
Brown said another concern is invasive species, such as the hemlock woolly adelgid. The more properties that are protected, the more they can watch out for that species, he said.
Brown said this is an old growth forest that has not been logged for awhile.
Queensbury Supervisor John Strough said the parties hammered out a price of about $525,000 for the 317 acres.
About half of the property is in the town of Queensbury and half is in the town of Lake George.
Strough said in addition to splitting the cost, both towns will chip in $10,000 each for future stewardship of the property.
The property is connected to the Top of the World golf course, which Strough said is interested in some mountain bike trails.
“It will protect it from further development and it will also give the public another reason to visit the area. We’re going to offer some hiking and biking trails and there’s some beautiful lookouts from up there,” he said.
Dan Barusch, director of planning and zoning for Lake George, said the goal for this year is to complete the purchase and transfer of land. There will be ongoing discussions for the next nine months on the development of recreational uses for the property.
“Next year, we will apply for grant funding through (state) Parks and Recreation to get some funds to do design and development of park,” he said.