Local businesses suffer when snow is a 'no show'

Posted at: 02/18/2013 4:43 PM
Updated at: 02/18/2013 6:22 PM
By: Jason Gough

The motorcycle races at the Lake George Winter Carnival were moved this past weekend because of concerns about the thickness of the ice.

While there are some concerns about thin ice, part of the lake did freeze over this winter, but Lake George has not frozen over in 9 of the last 21 years.

That is compared to the pervious 83 years when the lake failed to freeze only 3 times.

Snowfall is down 42% over the last two winters and temperatures are up.

While a few degrees doesn't sound like much, it is the difference between freezing and not freezing, and for some, that is bad for business.

Linda Duffy and her husband own Duffy's Tavern, just north of Shepard's Beach. Linda said,

“Even when we got the snow, like the last storm we got, we had smowmobilers around. You could see them even around the village. It was kind of nice to see it again, but now that the snow is gone, you can tell it in the sales. Sales have gone down again.”

Linda is the co-chair of the Lake George Winter Carnival.

Away from the big lake, Lake Luzerne and the Southern Warren Snowmobile Club are eager to see snow.

“Winter around here there was no snow at all. We never even got close to opening our snowmobile trails. The last two years have been horrible for the snowmobile industry,” said Bob Grant.

Dan Waterhouse of the Lake Luzerne Town Board is a restaurant owner, snowmobiler and a member of the town board. He says the lack of snow hurts everyone.

“The bigger picture is really the lack of sales tax revenue that the town gets when we're busy. There's a lot of snowmobiles. They're paying at the pump. We're getting sales tax revenue from that. The county passes it down to the town and ultimately, we're paying higher property tax,” he said.

West Mountain is just off exit 18 on the Northway.

“Last year; we won't even talk about it. It was that bad,” said Sue Parker

Not only are the folks at west mountain fighting mother nature, they're fighting perception.

“If you don't see it in your backyard, you don't think we have it,” she said.

To Gary Nelson, owner of the Outdoorsman Sports Shop on Diamond Point, it's all about the ice, or lack of it.

“well, winter isn't winter anymore. We're not getting the thick ice we should have this time of year. It's hurting all the winter activities, especially the ice fishing,” said Nelson

This is not a story about global warming, nor is it a story about climate change. This is a story about how the milder winters are adversely affecting the local economy.

So with these milder winters, there's not much that can be done for the snowmobilers or ice fishermen. The people who run the winter carnival have adapted, as have local ski areas.

“We do live in the north country. It'd be nice to have a winter like we used to have,” said Linda Duffy.