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Police: Lacrosse rowdiness was ‘enough to keep us busy’
August 10, 2018

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LAKE PLACID - How rowdy was this year's lacrosse week, off the field? About the same as other years, according to this village's assistant police chief.

"It wasn't busier than past years, but we had enough to keep us busy," Sgt. Chuck Dobson said Monday, Aug. 6.

Local business people who run vacation rentals and hotels say they no longer see damage at their lodgings, but many also say they have stopped renting to players in their 20s.

Thousands of lacrosse players were here last week for the annual Lake Placid Summit Classic tournament, which included some 250 teams. Over the years, those players have earned a reputation for partying and sometimes disturbing the peace.

Police charged only a small number of lacrosse players with crimes, but there were other incidents that did not result in arrests.

"We wind up dealing with a lot of vandalism in terms of pulled flowers, missing signs, [a] damaged vehicle ... public urination, fighting behavior, things of that nature," Dobson said.

Looking at the arrests, it's hard to tell whether any particular offender was a lacrosse player - there are plenty of other people in Lake Placid in August as well - but some were players, Dobson said. Also, he added, there were other incidents, such as noise complaints, that police let Summit officials handle for them.

"Summit does a pretty good job" of solving problems before police need to get involved, Dobson said.

This is the tournament's third year of having its own people out around Lake Placid to intervene in off-the-field incidents, Dobson said. The tournament's proactive approach involved setting up the Summit Lacrosse Society to instill in players a sense of positive reinforcement under the motto "Camaraderie, Competition and Respect." Dobson said the society takes a "case by case" approach to players who get out of hand off the field, sometimes punishing them with warnings, probation or suspension.

The Can-Am Rugby Tournament once had a reputation for off-the-field rowdiness, too, but its organizers reined that in, partly by suspending entire teams that had players who got in trouble. Summit lacrosse "takes a more case by case approach" to discipline than rugby did, Dobson said.

"I think they're headed in the right direction," Dobson said. "Summit has really made the effort to put people out there. ... I think the participants are starting to catch on."

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Flowers damaged

If you walked down Main Street earlier this week, you may have notice some torn-up flower boxes.

The Lake Placid Village Police Department charged Christoper D. Peterson, 27, and Collin D. Clark, both of Austin, Texas, with criminal mischief in the fourth degree after a report of damaging flower boxes. The two were released with court appearance tickets on a $200 cash bail. Dobson confirmed that the two were in town for the lacrosse tournament.

Cherise Bailey is the director for the nonprofit Lake Placid Community Beautification Association, and her crews oversaw replacing those flowers. Even though some were not ripped out, they were still damaged, she said Tuesday, Aug. 7.

"If you rip up a plant, you're damaging the root system and hurting the plants next to it," she said. "We had a few plants that looked fine yesterday but were wilting today."

Bailey said the places where flowers were ripped up include outside the Palace Theatre, the Miracle on Ice clothing store, Moon Tree Design, the Hotel North Woods and the shops by ADK Outlet.

While vandalism is common problem, Bailey said there is a heightened awareness for the lacrosse tournament.

"I hate to say it, but there is a level of damage that we expect with this event," she said. "My crews know that when lacrosse is town, the amount of time we spend on jobs quadruples."

In terms of dollars, Bailey said she's still calculating the extent of the damage.

Lacrosse Summit

Summit co-founder George Leveille said this year was a success and ran smoothly.

"Our crews saw that there was much great compliance to good behavior," he said, "albeit some rental properties did have some noise complaints and kept neighbors up through the night."

It's possible that the village and the surrounding town of North Elba will soon pass a local law requiring Airbnbs and other vacation rentals to register and acquire permits. These registrations would keep things in check such as the number of people allowed in a rental, the number of cars allowed on a property, and safety and fire guidelines.

Leveille sees this as a tool for reaching out to private renters who cater to lacrosse players and mitigating any problems that might arise.

As for the damages to the flower boxes, Leveille said it's hard to control that.

"Unfortunately that's been happening for years," he said. "Folks come out of the bars at 2:30 a.m., and they act inappropriately. I wish I could control that, but it's tough. We do make a donation to the Beautification ever year, though."

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Lodging vetting

This newspaper reached out to various hotel and motel owners and real estate agents in the area, all of whom said lacrosse week offered minimal rowdiness, mainly because of their own vetting protocols.

Dana Friedlander is a vacation rental specialist and real estate agent with Engel & Volkers. She said the week was busy.

"We're very strict with parking and noise guidelines," she said. "I'd say we're very sensitive to the community, so we also print out extra rules for visitors."

Friedlander said there was only one occasion last week where they had to collect money from a renter's security deposit.

"We had an issue of a broken TV, but that was more of an accident," she said. "Generally people are respectful, and if the deposit doesn't cover a damage, we have their credit card on file. We've never had to go that route, though."

Friedlander's agency also vets clients and tries to stay away from folks in their 20s.

So does village Trustee Art Devlin, who runs the Olympic Motor Inn toward the bottom of Main Street. About 15 years ago, he stopped reserving rooms for lacrosse players in the college age and recent graduate range. Therefore, he said, obnoxious behavior doesn't increase at his business during lacrosse week.

"We don't want to stereotype, but we also don't want any damages," he said. "If you're looking to get loud and cause trouble, we won't accept you, but if you're looking to relax, have a few beers and compete, that's fine."

Now the inn caters more to families and the athletes in the masters program.

This past week, Devlin said the rowdiness was not extreme. In fact, some rooms were empty throughout the week. He thinks the lower numbers are a result of vacation rentals and Airbnbs.

Margie Philo is a broker and owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Adirondack Premier Properties. She was aware of some vandalism along Main Street - emptied flower boxes and ice cream smeared on windows - but she said that type of behavior doesn't appear in the properties she rents.

"We didn't have any complaints," she said, "no damages or complaints."

Her agency tends to stay away from the young adult clientele as well, but she's seen older folks cause quite a ruckus in the past, too.

Village Trustee Peter Holderied, who owns and operates the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort on Main Street, also had a relatively peaceful and successful lacrosse week.

"It definitely seemed less crazy as far a boozing goes," he said. "It's a lot better than it once was. There was a lot of beer cans and bottles to pick up, but stuff like that is expected."

Holderied said there was no damage at his hotel. He doesn't outright stay away from athletes in their 20s, but if a team or player causes problems, Holderied won't allow them back.

"The [Summit Lacrosse Society] has gotten pretty good at regulating that type of behavior," he said. "It's rare that we'll have to charge someone extra for damages, and I think just holding onto their credit cards is already a deterrent."

Holderied said, in general, the lacrosse tournament is a positive event for Lake Placid.

"People tend to notice the bad news first and stay focused on that," he said, "but I think there's a lot more good news than bad."

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