December 9, 2012

Skate park sites revisited in Saranac Lake


---- — SARANAC LAKE — The village’s SkatePark Committee has run aground again in its plan to build a skateboard complex.

The members had a spot picked behind the former Village Office, which had been set aside several years ago in a resolution by the Saranac Lake Village Board.

But the parking area there is now part of a long-term expansion plan for biotechnology businesses that have moved into the village’s Main Street buildings.


Meantime, the need for a skate-park site has become more urgent.

The Town of North Elba offered the unused rails and ramps from its skate park to the committee in Saranac Lake. The high-end steel equipment was purchased several years ago with $100,000 in state grant monies. 

But, via Lake Placid’s Shipman Youth Center, North Elba was unable to maintain supervision, as required by town and school usage agreements.


Rich Shapiro has spearheaded Saranac Lake’s skate-park efforts for many years.

“Every time we seem to get close, supposedly new site locations are brought up and have to be checked out once again, and then (are) generally rejected,” he said in recent remarks to the Village Board.

“We’ve spent money on surveys and engineering studies, only to have them be useless due to the moving target of site location.”

On May 29, the Village Board voted 3-1 to provide in-kind services by pouring a concrete pad for the park’s ramps and features, Shapiro said. 

“The resolution directed Village Manager John Sweeney to have the (Village Office parking lot) site preparation completed by Aug. 31. Now, you are trying to find an alternate location due to other plans for that entire area.”


Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau said that reuse of the office building changed the plan.

“We expect (biotech research company) Myriad RBM to expand into the Police Station, and they will need the parking area for employees. That means the site is no longer viable for a skate park in the long-term.”

The Police Station will also have to relocate.

“We’re working on that, too,” Rabideau said.


The committee has come up with six other sites, including the far end of the old village parking lot.

Each site has been rated for essential youth park criteria, including accessibility, visibility, proximity to schools and neighborhoods and encouraging multi-recreational use.

Shapiro said the primary age of kids who use skate parks is between 9 and 14.

The top three sites on the SkatePark Committee’s list are William Morris Park, near the Adirondack Carousel; Ampersand Park; and part of the old Village Office parking lot.

Three other potential sites are less visible, too far or less safe for kids to reach by skating or on foot.

Each of them is charted in a four-page analysis that includes cost to prepare the location and the time it would take to do the work.

“We’ve looked at everything,” Shapiro told the Press-Republican about the ongoing evaluation process.

In all, the committee evaluated 20 potential skate-park sites over the past eight years, he said.


The equipment from North Elba requires a concrete pad and level ground, so it has to be engineered, to an extent.

The location also has to be permissible by nearby residents because of the loud noise that boards make hitting the ramps.

“It’s got to be close to the schools, readily visible and close to where (kids) live,” Shapiro said.

He presented a map of the top six sites to the Village Board.

“It is obvious from looking at where the kids go to school and where they live that certain locations make no sense since they are not located where the kids are,” he told them in the presentation.

“Once again, we have analyzed sites in the village, many of them for the third or fourth or more time. We are going in circles. The village staff had deemed Ampersand the most viable, and we think it would be an excellent location,” Shapiro said.

“It would involve re-tasking one-quarter of an already existing (public) park so that it would be used by more kids. And aren’t the kids the important demographic in this discussion?”

Shapiro said the matter will come up at Monday’s Village Board meeting, and he is hoping some young people will be there to share their views.

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