ROUND LAKE – Nearly everyone who visits Village Hall here knows the owner of the tan Mini Cooper with vanity plates that proclaim, “DixieLee.”
At the end of March, the sporty little car owned by Round Lake Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks will be parking in front of village hall no more.
After almost 27 years of dedicated service in that public office, Sacks has decided to step down and entrust the quaint village’s future to her deputy mayor.
“It’s just that the time is right. I’ve been threatening this for years,” explained Mayor Sacks, during a recent interview in a spacious Village Hall conference room.
Sacks spent her early years in Liberty, New York, but moved to Round Lake in the early 1980s. She relocated because she had bought and decided to manage a retirement home for adults, which was located in one of the village’s several historic buildings.
“I was coming up to relax. Instead I spent 30 years in government,” Sacks said.
It didn’t take long for her to make the choice of ending her involvement in the adult-home business. It “became a money pit because of the changes in regulations,” Sacks explained, noting how state and local officials were intent on phasing out old wooden structures.
At the same time, Sacks had perceived a need for new political leadership in Round Lake. For a few years, she served on the village board before winning her first election as mayor in 1990.
She received much support through the years from a longtime village clerk as well as Tom Bergin, her current deputy mayor who is expected to replace Sacks after she steps down on March 30.
Repeated attempts to contact Bergin for comment were unsuccessful.
For the first 10 years of her long term, Sacks advocated for a major infrastructure project to improve Round Lake’s water and sewer systems. That project was finally accomplished by 2003.
Several years later, Sacks was a strong supporter of the so-called Round Lake Bypass, a state project that diverted truck traffic from the village with an alternate connection between the Adirondack Northway and Route 9.
The village had to borrow more than $3 million to complete the water and sewer project, but Sacks said she is confident that future village budgets will stay in the black.
In general, Sacks said, she remains opposed to too much development in Round Lake, a village that is proud of its “rich cultural past,” according to an account on its official website.
Though Sacks understands the importance of progress for any municipality, she said she is “sorry” two local development projects went forward, involving the construction of 80 townhouses in one case and about 50 single-family homes in the other.
When asked what she will miss the most about being mayor in a small village of about 600, Sacks did not hesitate to say interacting with residents.
There are no individual mailboxes at Round Lake homes, so much of the village’s social life occurs near the post office boxes inside Village Hall (offered free of charge to village residents by the United States Post Office); a popular cake and coffee shop around the corner; or at the popular Lake Ridge Restaurant and The Mill, a tavern across Route 9.
Sacks, who is 80, said Round Lake residents respect her because “I’ll tell you like it is.”
“I’m a determined person and I don’t give up,” the seasoned mayor said.