LAKE GEORGE — The town and village of Lake George are splitting the cost of an appraisal of the privately run Lake George Forum as a first step toward possibly acquiring the property for use as a performance and convention space.
The Town Board on Monday voted to put up half of the $2,700 cost to find out how much the building is worth.
Village Mayor Robert Blais has been leading an initiative to develop a year-round performance center. A committee of 20 people representing arts organizations have their eyes on the Forum, which has been underused.
Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said he would like to see the building used for conventions in addition to performances. He said hosting conferences would help bring more activity to Lake George, especially in the fall, winter and early spring.
The conventions are a nine-month season, going from September through May, according to Dickinson.
“Most corporations don’t do conventions during the summer because their people want a vacation. They’re busy doing other things,” he said.
In addition, he said, conventions are usually scheduled on weekdays. This would leave weekends free for performances or other events.
Dickinson said he believes there also would be spin-off business at restaurants and shops. People attend conventions during the day, then want to go out to eat and drink.
In addition, the town could make money from parking spaces next to the Forum. Dickinson cited the 61 town-owned parking spaces on West Brook Road, which are generating about $60,000 per year.
Deputy Supervisor Vincent Crocitto said having the building come off the tax rolls would be offset by additional revenues, including sales tax.
The building has plenty of space at 50,000 square feet, according to Dickinson. He believes it would not compete with The Sagamore Resort in Bolton, which has 30,000 square feet of space.
The Forum is owned by Ralph Macchio and is assessed at $2,378,900. Dickinson said Macchio is open to a potential sale.
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“The seller has a price he’d like to get,” he said, without elaborating.
Macchio bought the building for $1.81 million at a bank auction in 2009.
Dickinson said discussions are at the very preliminary stages. It does not necessarily mean the village and town will buy the property.
“All the options are on the table right now” he said. “It’s all over the place.”
Another route is for the arts groups to obtain grants and donations to make this solely a performing arts venue, he added.
Crocitto said he believes that the county should also be involved.
“If they can help the Civic Center (Cool Insuring Arena), 350 grand, they can bring some of that up here to help Lake George,” he said.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee has decided to give $100,000 in occupancy tax money to Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls for capital upgrades, in addition to the $250,000 annual operating subsidy.
Dickinson agreed that it should not be a burden to the local taxpayer.
He reiterated that this is just a discussion at this point.
“We’re a long way from doing anything,” he said.