Reactions To Big Grant Dollars For Schroon: Smiles All Around

“I feel like I just found out my girlfriend is pregnant,” a stunned (and married) Larry McNamara, owner of the Strand Theatre,  told Schroon Laker yesterday.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls, it’s a little overwhelming,” Larry said. The Strand received grant money to help in the pruchase of a new digital projector and equipment . Had the grant not come through, the Strand faced going dark, with the supply of 35 mm movies being released by Hollywood almost non-existent. They are being replaced by digital film, which are played by digital projectors.


"The Adirondack Film Society and The Strand Theatre partnered in applying for a grant from NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts) in August, 2013. The grant was approved!"

The Strand receives $40,000.00 (NOT $70,000 as earlier reported!) towards digital projection equipment. They will now also have the honor of hosting film forums and other events with The Adirondack Film Society at The Strand.

"New and exciting things are coming!," said Larry.

What this means is that the fund raising is far from over. So far, about $10,000 has been raised locally. All in, Larry will need about $91,000 for a new system -- so there is still more than $40,000 to be raised.

In awarding the grant, the Regional Economic Development Council said: “The theater is a vital piece of the cultural  landscape, and the project supports the  North Country REDC’s strategy of keeping  jobs, money and people in the North  Country. This project will lead to improved job  skills and career enhancing opportunities for new and existing employees”.

You could hear the excitement and relief in the voice of Julia Pitkin-Shantz, owner of the Inn On Schroon Lake, when we reached her.

“Now I get to build a hotel. I feel really great,” Julia told us.

Julia had applied for less than 20 per cent of the total project costs for the year for the Inn On Schroon Lake . “In my case the total request was $819,000 and between the two grants they gave us $765,000”.

Being awarded the grant money let’s Julia get cracking on the Inn. “What I can start doing now is anything. The big issue was until the award was announced I couldn’t incur anything, so right now I have to secure funding for the remaining 70 percent of the project (Julia is putting up 10 per cent of her own money).

How does she plan to raise those funds?

“Primarily through loans and I am still looking for an equity partner. I ‘ve had discussions with some people but nothing serious at this point. (Until now)…it’s kind of been a waiting  game.”

The next step for Julia --  after letting everyone on her team know that the grant money had come through -- was the process of filling out a mountain of paperwork, required by New York State, “which sets the terms and conditions under which I can collect the money”.

“I am so please that the North Country did really well.”

Julia agreed when I suggested Governor Cuomo has a soft spot for the North Country. “He sure does!”

“I was at a press conference in November  where Andrew Cuomo announced the state will invest $12 million to repair Whiteface Mountain Veterans' Memorial Highway.”

Cuomo had made the announcement during a press conference at the Lake Placid Conference Center, attended by a couple hundred people including many local and state officials. Cuomo also spoke about saving two hotels in Lake Saranac. The event came right after Cuomo took a trip up

Julia was able to meet Cuomo at the event. Was he familiar with the Inn on Schroon Lake project?

“One would never now. He was polite… there were a hundred people ready to meet him. At the event he had spoken about the two hotel projects in Saranac Lake, the history and how it was important for that area and tourism.

“I made the point that I hoped next year he would talk that way about Schroon Lake, because those projects had a lot of the same factors in what we were requesting.”

Tony Kostecki, the General Director at Seagle Music Colony, was also in a good mood when we spoke.

“We asked for a little over $120,000 and got  $118,100. (about 20 per cent of the costs of what the improvements to the Seagle Colony will cost).

“It’s an exciting way to get the catalyst to get that ball rolling (to raise the other 80 per cent)”.

Tony said he hoped  some of the improvements could begin in the Spring.

“I don’t think the work will have to be done all at once. We actually have plans to work on the foundation of the main theater  building, The biggest chunk of the request was to address housing on the campus. That’s a little bit more involved. It will take us a little bit of time to raise those funds, but we have an advantage as we are a non-profit, so we are always asking for money.

The grants were announced Wednesday to a standing room only crowd at the Hart Theater at the Egg Center for Performing Arts on the Empire State Plaza in Albany. The state is doling out $715 million for 824 projects across New York in the third round of Governor. Andrew Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council initiative.