In Memory of Ed Bartholomew: Bridge Builder, Lake Protector, FUND Advisor and Friend

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

July 2020

When it came to Lake George, Ed Bartholomew understood like few others that the environment and economy are two sides of the same coin. He valued both sides dearly and worked tirelessly to protect them. It is with much sadness that we honor him posthumously in this edition of Profiles in Protection.

“Ed worked quietly and tirelessly behind the scenes to protect the Lake and the thousands of regional businesses and jobs that depend on it.”

The leader of economic development in Warren County and a founding member of The FUND for Lake George Council of Business Advisors, Ed passed away on Tuesday, July 22. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.

Ed brought purpose, energy, and a roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic to every project he tackled. It’s what led to his election as Mayor of his hometown City of Glens Falls at the age of 28, to successful careers in private law practice and in service to our regional community in New York State government, and to his decade of economic development leadership, first for Glens Falls, then as President of EDC Warren County.

Ed Bartholomew in front of a yellow wall

At EDC, Ed’s love and appreciation for Lake George was on display countless times over the years and led to him joining The FUND for Lake George Council of Business Advisors in 2019.

The Council’s Statement of Purpose calls upon members to serve as an “influential voice and active partner on behalf of The FUND’s mission to protect Lake George and its surrounding watershed for future generations.” Ed embraced this responsibility wholeheartedly.

“Given the significance of Lake George to our region from a quality of life perspective, for attracting employers and a strong workforce, and as an economic anchor for tourism, it’s essential that the business community devote all the energy and resources we can to its protection,” he said at the time of the Council’s formation.

EDC Vice President John Wheatley, who worked side-by-side with Ed for the past seven years, said Ed spoke often about his role on the Council and the work they were doing to protect the Lake. “Ed always had a real reverence for Lake George,” John said. “He understood the appeal of the Lake and how it drew people here both to visit and live.”

Soon after joining the Council, Ed became one of the leading voices advocating for the additional state funding needed to replace the outdated wastewater treatment plant in the Village of Lake George — an effort that culminated earlier this year with Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing the second of two state grants totaling nearly $17 million for the $24 million facility that is now under construction.

The Village’s existing 1930s-era plant was identified in a 2015 study by the Lake George Waterkeeper as the leading source of harmful nitrates in 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.

In his role as EDC President, Ed made a heartfelt appeal on behalf of the Lake at a joint New York State Legislative Budget Hearing in February 2019, sitting alongside and speaking in partnership with FUND Executive Director Eric Siy.

This striking personification of “two sides of the same coin” provided a powerfully effective statement as state leaders considered the Village’s funding request, and prompted state Assemblyman Dan Stec to point out to his fellow legislators, “It’s not often that you have economic developers sitting literally elbow to elbow with environmental leaders and they are in lockstep on this and many other issues.”

Recalling this moment just days after Ed’s death, Assemblyman Stec said the partnership epitomized what Ed was all about. “He was a bridge builder and that was a classic example,” the Assemblyman said. “Ed was passionate about economic development, but he was much more than that. He understood community and diverse interests and, coupled with his perspective and personality and character, he was able to make connections between groups that opened doors and delivered results. He always made a difference.”

Eric Siy and FUND Chairman Jeff Killeen also highlighted Ed’s legislative appearance in a tribute honoring their late advisor and friend. But, “More often,” they wrote, “Ed worked quietly and tirelessly behind the scenes to protect the Lake and the thousands of regional businesses and jobs that depend on it.”

“We will miss his keen insights, his big ideas, and his enthusiastic pursuit of everything good for Lake George and our local communities.”

Thank you, Ed, for all you did for the Lake we all love.