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Officials: Fewer lax-related complaints reported this year

By Adirondack Daily Enterprise -Elizabeth Izzo, 08/15/19, 2:30PM EDT

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LAKE PLACID — Local officials say there seemed to be fewer unintended impacts on the community as a result of the Lake Placid Summit Classic lacrosse tournament this year.

The tournament was held Aug. 5 to 11. It’s one of the largest events held in the village each year, attracting a number of athletes and spectators that dwarfs the village’s year-round population. It’s also notorious for ushering in a wave of noise and property damage complaints.

Altogether the event drew roughly 15,000 people this year, including 6,000 athletes across more than 250 teams, according to Kevin Leveille, son of tournament co-founder George Leveille. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the village’s entire year-round population was estimated at 2,386 as of last year.

In the past, residents and business owners have lodged complaints about damage to their properties when the lacrosse tournament comes into town. There have also been complaints about public intoxication, public urination, vandalism and noise stemming from short-term vacation rentals in residential areas. Over the years in the minds of some locals the lacrossers have become synonymous with late-night partying.

This year wasn’t that bad, local officials say. They’re hopeful that progress is being made to curtail rowdiness off the field.

Positive feedback

Last August the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism hosted a public forum to hash out complaints from locals about unintended impacts of the lacrosse tournament.

ROOST Communications Coordinator Carrie Gentile said the agency isn’t planning to host another forum this year simply because there hasn’t been the same response from locals as there was in prior years.

“We reached out to community members, and the feedback was positive,” she said. “It’s always one of the busiest times of the year, but there seemed to be fewer incidents.”

North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi said there was no damage to the town’s lacrosse fields, and he hadn’t heard of any issues as a result of the tournament.

Calls persist, but getting better

Lake Placid Police Chief William Moore said the tournament, paired with other events held in the past three weeks — including the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon and the Can-Am Rugby Tournament — kept the department busy this year as they always do.

“It brings a unique challenge to the town,” Moore said. “It’s busier than it is any other time of the year.

“For the most part, the group was better behaved this year than in past years.”

At least four people were arrested by village police during the span of the tourney, three of whom were from outside the area, but it’s unclear how many of those people may have been in Lake Placid for lacrosse. Last year, at least two people here for the tournament were arrested after they allegedly damaged flower boxes on Main Street.

New York State Police assisted village police but didn’t make any arrests connected to the tournament this year, State Police Public Information Officer Jennifer Fleishman said.

Most complaints village police received this year were alcohol- and noise-related, according to Moore. Although there were few arrests, police responded to multiple calls that didn’t result in criminal charges.

Moore said the department’s workload was made easier by the Summit Lacrosse Society, a group of five off-duty police officers tasked with enforcing tournament policy and attempting to de-escalate non-criminal complaints involving lacrosse players. This is the fourth year the society has worked with local and state police.

“Definitely the security force made a huge difference,” Moore said.

Summit Lacrosse Society sees progress

Summit Society Supervisor Dave Coursen said his organization did receive some “problem calls” this year, but he’s also noticed an improvement.

“The one main problem I saw were noise complaints in residential areas due to the number of vacation rentals,” Coursen said. “We tried to focus my team of summit staff to assist the police with the noise complaints in those neighborhoods.

“I think the majority of people I spoke with — it was a quiet weekend, as far as problems.”

Coursen said the society’s goal is to promote good behavior. He’s proud of the progress he’s seen over the past four years.

“It’s never going to be perfect, but I take pride in being a part of that,” he said. “I think it’s working.”