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Property sale collaboration paves way for Saranac Lake public safety facility


NORTHERN NEW YORK – The Village of Saranac Lake is moving forward with a property purchase to provide a new home for public safety facilities and improve the delivery of lifesaving services for residents and visitors.

The village is in the final stages of purchasing property from Citizen Advocates, where the former St. Pius X High School building and Hhott House Greenhouse are located off Petrova Avenue.

Pending completion of the sale, the Village of Saranac Lake plans to construct a municipal public safety building with space for the Village Police Department, Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Citizen Advocates will provide the same level and range of high-quality clinical services it currently offers from its facilities adjacent to the former St. Pius X campus, along with community-based services throughout southern Franklin County – and beyond.

“We are grateful to Citizen Advocates for offering this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the Village of Saranac Lake,” said Saranac Lake Mayor Jimmy Williams. “This land acquisition is not a ‘want’ for our community, it is a ‘need.’ With urgent infrastructural challenges confronting all three of our emergency services entities, this site offers something rarely possible – a one-hundred-year solution.”

“Citizen Advocates has long enjoyed a strong partnership with the Village of Saranac Lake,” said James Button, President & CEO of Citizen Advocates. “While this sale represents an end of an era for Citizen Advocates, it is the start of an exciting new chapter that builds on Saranac Lake’s legacy of health and healing with a new facility that greatly enhances public safety and lifesaving services for the community.”

“After many years of searching for a potential site for a public safety building, the members of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department are extremely excited,” said SLVFD Chief Brendan Keough. “None of this would be possible without Citizen Advocates’ commitment to the future of our community. This site preserves the history of our existing fire station, eliminates the need to relocate our fire apparatus during construction, provides the space for much needed training facilities, and strengthens our efforts to recruit and retain the next generation of volunteer firefighters.”

“In life-or-death emergencies, every second counts,” said Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad Chief Ryan Siddell. “SLVRS serves one of the largest geographical rescue districts in the state of New York, and this building site will afford us the space we need to continue responding quickly and efficiently to the thousands of calls we receive each year.”

“This building site will transform the ways in which the Village of Saranac Lake’s Police Department delivers public safety services to the community,” said SLPD Chief Darin Perrotte. “A state-of-the-art, co-located facility will enhance interdepartmental collaboration and information sharing, augmenting our ability to protect and serve, both now and well into the future.”

Why the partnership with Saranac Lake?

  • The construction of a public safety building will house essential, lifesaving services under one roof in a state-of-the-art, modern facility. 
  • The project includes the proposed construction of an access road via State Route 3, minimizing any additional traffic in residential areas surrounding the property.
  • Citizen Advocates has partnered for years with Saranac Lake, most recently embedding crisis clinicians within the village police department. 
  • This new collaboration builds on the existing partnership by co-locating a one-stop shop for police, fire and rescue next to Citizen Advocates outpatient mental health and addiction clinic.
  • The partnership enhances the ability to deliver community members the right care, at the right time, in the right location.

What’s included in the agreement?

  • The “Pius X” building on Petrova Avenue is a 35,000-square-foot former high school, where Citizen Advocates provided a wide range of supportive services to adults and youth with developmental disabilities since the late 1970s.
  • Over the years, the preferences of individuals Citizen Advocates supports have shifted from site-based services to services received in the community or comfort of their own homes.  
  • At one time, as many as 120 individuals received services at the Pius X building. With the shift to community-based services, the number decreased significantly. There is a smaller site for day habilitation services that, although not currently in use, remains the property of Citizen Advocates. 
  • The Hhott House Greenhouse has operated from its current location on the Pius X campus since 1978. It is a supported employment program for individuals supported by Citizen Advocates where plants, gardening and growing supplies are sold to the public. 
  • Citizen Advocates has greatly expanded its employment training program beyond the Hhott House by cultivating strong relationships with over 50 North Country businesses representing a wide range of industries who offer meaningful employment opportunities to people with disabilities.
  • There will be no job losses resulting from these changes.
  • Together, the former “Pius X” building and Hhott House Greenhouse occupy 15 acres of land.

What’s not included?

  • Citizen Advocates will continue to offer mental health and addiction services at its outpatient clinic located on seven acres of land that includes transportation services and a facility where supportive services can be provided to adults.