It’s makeover time for the very first Stewart’s

Stewart’s Shops wants to replace its convenience store on the southern edge of Ballston Spa with a b
The Stewarts logo
The Stewarts logo

Stewart’s Shops wants to replace its convenience store on the southern edge of Ballston Spa with a bigger, more modern store.

I know that’s shocking news. You might ask why that’s news at all. This is an all-too-ubiquitous company that used to open a new store every month. But before you skip on to Bob Cudmore’s column, let me offer a little local history.

The site at Church Avenue and Thomas Street is where the company, which now has 331 stores from Ogdensburg to Newburgh, got started.

“This is bittersweet. This was our first location,” said Maria D’Amelia, the corporation’s spokeswoman.

It’s where Ballston dairyman Don Stewart had a commercial dairy with a storefront. Brothers Charles and Percy Dake, who had previously run Dake’s Ice Cream in Greenfield, bought it in 1945. Stewart’s business, founded in 1918, was popular and well-respected, so the Dake brothers adopted his name for their company.

The Dakes were soon selling cones for seven cents, a double scoop for 10 cents, and finding they had a hit on their hands.

“There had been rationing during the war, so there was a big pent-up demand,” D’Amelia said.

The attached dairy eventually went, but the original store remained until 1984, when a fire destroyed it. A new store opened the following year and is what’s there today.

But by modern standards, it’s small, and it has only one set of gas pumps; and gas pumps, it doesn’t take a Cornell degree to know, bring in customers to buy all the other stuff with a higher profit margin.

The plans the Ballston Planning Board will look at Wednesday are for a 3,000-square-foot store with a to-go counter and more gas pumps.

“It’s similar to a lot of other projects we have done with existing stores, demolishing them and rebuilding to make it larger and more convenient for our customers,” D’Amelia said.

That means it would have the latest Stewart’s amenities, including pizza service and a beer cave.

If the Planning Board gives approval, the company hopes to open the new store by fall.

Lake George land

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week announced the state has acquired an addition 1,436 acres in the southern Lake George basin, including the headwaters of West Brook, one of the lake’s major tributaries.

The state paid $1.7 million to purchase the land from the Lake George Land Conservancy, dipping into the Environmental Protection Fund to pay for it.

The Berry Pond Preserve, as it is called, straddles an off-the-beaten-path area where the towns of Lake George, Lake Luzerne and Warrensburg converge, generally southwest of Prospect Mountain’s summit.

The land will be added to the state Forest Preserve, meaning it will never be developed and will be open to public recreation.

The Lake George Land Conservancy bought it in 2008 to keep it from being developed, part of an initiative to reduce sediments and pollutants that run into West Brook, which flows into Lake George in the village. The parcel also connects to nearly 10,000 more acres on the west side of the lake that are owned by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the town and village of Lake George or The Nature Conservancy and are open for recreational use.

“The Berry Pond Preserve is an integral part of both the local ecosystem and the region’s economy, and we will ensure it remains pollutant-free and accessible for families and visitors alike to enjoy for years to come,” Cuomo said in announcing the purchase.

The transaction also gives the Land George Land Conservancy new money to make more deals that will keep scenic slopes from being developed by those who care more about profits or having a scenic view than about the environmental consequences.

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