Communities consider helping cash-strapped Civic Center

Posted at: 05/09/2013 6:07 PM
Updated at: 05/09/2013 6:08 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

GLENS FALLS - Civic Center debt is too much for city taxpayers to bear, so Glens Falls is looking to its neighbors for a little help, and some seem eager to help, if it means keeping the Civic Center open.

The city owns the cash-strapped civic center and city residents pay for the operations and improvements at the building.

But those communities who benefit from the center's events are considering giving Glens Falls a hand to keep the building open.

It's been the center of the community for 36 years. But times are tough at the Glens Falls Civic Center. With the professional hockey team's commitment to Glens Falls lasting just one more season, and city residents paying more than 600-thousand dollars a year in operations and capital costs, the city is weighing its options.

“Unlike many civic centers like in Albany and elsewhere which are funded and supported by the county, it's the city of Glens Falls that shoulders the burden of operating and the capital costs," said Glens Falls Economic Development Director, Ed Bartholomew.

Bartholomew says closing the doors of the Civic Center is the worst case scenario. He says the city is lobbying hard to land another American Hockey League team to be the center's winter-time anchor tenant. Short of that, the city-funded civic center might only get by with a little help from its friends.

“You have to be neighborly, you have to think regionally," said Mayor Blais

Bob Blais, who has been mayor of Lake George for more than four decades, says the arena helps his community and others nearby by bringing visitors to the area. He's proposed a plan that would have taxpayers in Lake George, Queensbury, Moreau, Kingsbury and Fort Edward share the annual cost of running the center. The typical homeowner in those communities would pay about 20-dollars more a year in taxes.

“I think you get it accomplished by doing it regionally, so that what appears on their tax bill they hardly even notice is there at all," said Blais.

Although, it's just an idea at this point, some say it's long overdue.

“You know we benefit from the Civic Center just like everybody in Warren County and I believe we should be paying our fair share," said Dan VanWie or Moreau.

In exchange for providing funding, the communities would get some say on the center's operations.