Big growth for Adirondack Park’s biggest community

One of the fiercest debates in the Adirondacks — and here on the In Box — is the direction and momentum of population change in the Park.
We reported March 25th on overall population trends in the North Country.  Now Saranac Lake Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau is trumpeting growth in his community over the last decade.
Preliminary 2010 US Census figures are in and the Village of Saranac Lake head count increased by 358 people, or 7.2%, for a total population of 5,406.   The 2000 census had “The Capital of the Adirondacks” population at 5,041.
In a statement released this week, Rabideau trumpeted the growth:
“While many worried about a declining population in the Adirondack Park–as growth in the rest of the state was anemic—Saranac Lake experienced a solid and sustainable gain over the last decade, which means our village must be doing something right to attract this kind of expansion.”

The mayor also said that the population increase might translate into “more political clout and more leverage for grants and funding.”
So what do you think?  What does it mean that Saranac Lake village is growing at a pace three times that of New York state as a whole?
Compared with the situation in Hamilton County, which lost 10% of its population, this number is certainly noteworthy.

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23 Comments on “Big growth for Adirondack Park’s biggest community”

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  1. newt says:

    This comes as a bit of a shock to me, given the number of houses that have “for sale” signs in front of them, as well as declining enrollment in schools. Also that Saranac Lake is geographically quite small, without much room to build (back in the days when people built) houses. I suspect that a lot of this growth has come from retirees, including folks moving into the renovated Will Rogers complex. I know a at least a dozen retirees who moved here because they like the small town life, cultural scene, and, of course, natural environment (Tare all , sensibly, all out of town at the moment, however).
    There was lots of visible growth in Harrietstown, North Elba, and even St. Armand, on the outside of the Village. I’d like to know how much.

  2. Peter Hahn says:

    Saranac Lake has more art galleries than bars, and good schools.

  3. RationalandLogical says:

    The increase represents a fairly isolated case. When one considers all census tracts that comprise the Park a much different portrayal is evident. Growth is concentrated and not widespread across the Park. The other concern exists in the details. I would like to see the age breakdown of this population total for Village to see what is going on with the working age group of 25-55.

  4. Jonathan Bouman says:

    How many of those counted are students? Do they qualify? That would skew things don’t you think?

  5. Walker says:

    You can see considerable detail on the NYT page at

    No age breakdown, though.

  6. newt says:

    Walker.-Amazing map. Thanks for the tip.

  7. Paul says:

    A good friend of mine in Saranac Lake had 5 kids between the census counts. He and his wife are responsible for a full 1.4% of the towns growth!

  8. Peter Hahn says:

    very cool map – looks like North Elba is up 20%

  9. Peter Hahn says:

    Although… I hope that isnt just the increase in prison population.

  10. oa says:

    Prison populations in general are declining, Peter, which is why they’re talking about shutting down whole facilities. And though I don’t have the figures in front of me to be sure, I doubt that trend is any different in this case.

  11. Paul says:

    I think this is the “village” population so prisoners will not effect this number anyway.

  12. Peter Hahn says:

    In looking more carefully, the prisons are not in the census tracts that include much of Saranac Lake, or much of North Elba. (and not in the census tract that went up 20%).

  13. MH says:

    Interesting, especially juxtaposed with today’s Adirondack Daily Enterprise article regarding the declining enrollment in the Saranac Lake School District:, which seems to confirm newt’s comment, above.

  14. Paul says:

    The school district is very large geographically. The drop in student enrollment could be due to a drop in population outside the village (although I am not sure that is supported by the data).

    The only other possibility is an aging population. I think that may be supported by the data.

    To answer Brian’s old question “is Saranac Lake dying”. The answer is probably no? Is it getting older? The answer is probably yes.

    Is it doing well? Not really.

  15. scratchy says:

    The US grew by 9.7% over the last decades, so Saranac Lake’s 7.2% population increase isn’t that impressive.

  16. Paul says:

    We should graph property tax with population and see how it looks. Why did they need so much more money for a town that grew by 350 people (and had fewer students in school)? Odd.

  17. Sandy says:

    I moved to Saranac Lake as a retiree (not into Will Rogers) to take advantage of the wonderful growing arts community and the easy access to outdoor recreation. Among my group of friends are 8 other people who did the same thing (not necessarily the art, but for the recreation). Hopefully our dollars are helping to contribute to the economy of this lovely place to live. The upcoming opening of the Community Store of Saranac Lake is also another indication of the beliefs people have in the potential of this village. Maybe we can keep it prospering enough that more young people will also consider living here.

  18. James says:

    My wife and I moved to Saranac Lake in 2006 because it offered what every other community (and we have lived in many) had not–escape from sprawl and unchecked development. One of the first things we did upon arriving was purchase shares in the Community Store. We’ve had two children since and absolutely love it here. As 30-somethings, we’ve passed up offers of an “easier” life in the form of more modern conveniences, lower taxes, and higher pay elsewhere. We’ve met many others in our age group who have made similar life decisions. Sometimes we second guess ourselves (mostly while shoveling), but the simple fact of the matter is that we love the community and surrounding natural beauty, so we are determined to stay.

    I am always surprised at how quickly folks like us are dismissed in discussions like these, as if we’re the exception and sure to move on any day. Saranac Lake is actually quite diverse. And like Sandy, we also keep our dollars local, eating out at places like Eat N Meet Grill, as just one example of the many incredible local family owned businesses found here. I know folks prefer to hear and focus on the “negatives” of American life these days, and I admit I find myself doing the same more than I should…but these growth figures are good news, and I’m happy to hear our mayor drawing attention to Saranac Lake’s growth. Our family takes a great deal of pride in supporting, in our own small ways, the unique and special community that is Saranac Lake.

  19. oa says:

    Saranac Lake actively recruits tourists and welcomes newcomers, and seems to have figured out how to live with the APA and not use it as an excuse never to try anything. You can say that for Ticonderoga and Lake Placid, as well. Can you say the same about other communities in the North Country?

  20. hermit thrush says:

    take this for what it’s worth, but last summer i got to spend some time in saranac lake for the first time, and i was really impressed, so much so that the family is strongly considering vacationing there this summer.

  21. oa says:

    Somebody negatively rated Sandy’s comment? Wow.

  22. Paul says:

    “Somebody negatively rated Sandy’s comment? Wow.”

    That is bizarre!

  23. Cris says:

    It is pretty interesting to read about our Saranac Lake mayor blowing the horn for the wonderful growth in the village and also learning this week that this same mayor wants to severely cut the funding for the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce. There are many factors responsible for the high quality of life in Saranac Lake, and as an artist and business owner I know having a healthy, energetic Chamber of Commerce is one of them. Let’s hope the village board and mayor will step back and see the Big Picture.

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