Mayor Bob Blais: Legendary Leader Protecting Lake George for Future Generations

The following profile was prepared by The FUND for Lake George prior to its 2021 merger with the LGA.

 June 2020

As the longest-serving Mayor in New York State history, Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais could be excused for cooling his engines a little at this point in his storied career. But as the Lake’s foremost champion approaches a remarkable 50th year in office, he’s still working full throttle, with one primary goal in mind — to keep the Lake clear and clean for generations to come.

“It would be devastating if, under our watch, something happened to the Lake that stopped people from wanting to live or visit here.”

“Lake George is under constant stress because so many people love to spend time here,” the Mayor says. “What we do to protect the Lake now is going to affect what our children and grandchildren have in the future. It would be devastating if, under our watch, something happened to the Lake that stopped people from wanting to live or visit here.”

To that end, what may well become the Mayor’s most meaningful and enduring accomplishment is now coming to fruition on a backstreet just a mile or so from the famed Million Dollar Beach — where the Village’s new $24 million wastewater treatment plant is under construction.

Mayor Bob Blais leading by example

The state-of-the-art plant will replace the Village’s current 1930s-era treatment facility, which was identified in a definitive 2015 study by the Lake George Waterkeeper, a program of The FUND for Lake George, as the predominant source of threatening nitrates entering the Lake. Left unabated, nitrates greatly increase the risk of harmful algal blooms like those that have wreaked havoc on the environment and economy of lakes across the country.

Informed by the Waterkeeper study, Mayor Blais organized and led a years-long effort, funded in part by a $20,000 grant from The FUND, to develop and advance plans for a new plant with the latest nitrate-removing technology. Earlier this year, with the strong encouragement of the Mayor and a diverse public-private coalition of Lake supporters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the second of two state grants totaling nearly $17 million for the project.

Mayor Blais has also long been a roll-up-your-sleeves participant in The FUND’s multi-faceted Lake protection program. His leadership was critical in establishing The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership and the mandatory invasive species boat inspection program considered to be among the strongest in the nation. In addition, his vision for a community festival space at Charles R. Wood Park embraced the inclusion of the West Brook Conservation Initiative, with its stormwater filtering ponds that keep nutrients and pollutants from reaching the Lake.

“Lake George deserves nothing but the best,” the Mayor says. “The Lake is the engine that pulls this entire area economically. We have wonderful attractions and events and shopping and restaurants — the whole package — but I firmly believe that most people come here because of the Lake. People are drawn to water, and there’s no more beautiful water in any part of the country than Lake George.”