Press-Republican

November 27, 2012

Saranac Lake updates growth priorities

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — SARANAC LAKE — The Village of Saranac Lake has completed draft revisions — years in the making — to the Comprehensive Plan written 25 years ago.

Stabilization of the tax base is a priority in a sequence of efforts that look to support small-business growth and keep young families in Saranac Lake.

The proposed actions build from a central community-development entity that markets village assets and helps tie event planning to a central, common hub.

HELP FROM CONSULTANTS

The project of updating the 1988 version started in conjunction with the Town of Harrietstown in 2007.

When the town opted that year to leave the process, the Village Board reorganized the effort.

And with a $75,000 Waterfront Revitalization Grant, Saranac Lake hired environmental and economic planners with LA Group out of Saratoga Springs.

‘POSITIVE VISION’

Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said Monday that a draft version of the plan will go to two public hearings on Dec. 11.

“I have worked with both committees on this project, and the level of commitment shown by the volunteer committee members to the project is extraordinary,” he said in a press release.

“The LA Group has gone above and beyond what is required to help the village develop a modern plan that sets forth a positive vision for the future.”

PUBLIC BEACH

Still in draft form, the Comprehensive Plan looks to key waterfront-revitalization efforts, which include re-establishing a public beach on Lake Flower and adding a canoe/kayak launch at Saranac Lake’s Lake Colby Beach.

“The interest in a beach located on Lake Flower stems from the recollection of the former village beach (Prescott Park Beach) that existed on the lake from the 1920s through approximately 1977,” the land-use update says.

“The former public beach was popular due to its central location in close proximity to the downtown and walking distance to the residential neighborhoods of the village.”

Step 1 toward this goal, the draft plan recommends, is for trustees to appoint a project advisory committee to begin exploratory assessment to construct and maintain a public beach on Lake Flower.

CONNECTING TRAILS

Connectivity throughout the village via bike and walking trails is another key component of the Comprehensive Plan.

It also focuses on land-use-code updates, safeguards for cultural/historic preservation, housing reuse efforts and infrastructure improvement projects, several of which are ongoing, including sidewalk repairs.

The 150-page draft plan ends with a chart of recommended projects set out on a timeline.

INPUT SOUGHT

The draft has been posted online at saranaclakeny.gov, complete with a residents’ input form for gathering comments.

“The plan incorporates extensive public input received by (advisory) committees generated through surveys, public meetings, committee work sessions and written comments,” Evans said.

Public hearings will be held from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, in the Town Council room at 39 Main St.

Evans said he hopes village residents and property owners will take the time to attend at least one of the meetings.

But those who cannot attend can email comments in writing before Dec. 14 to comdev@saranaclakeny.gov. Comments can also be sent by regular mail or dropped off at the Village Offices at 39 Main St., Saranac Lake, NY 12983.

Public input will be incorporated into the draft plan and then referred by the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee to the Village Board for review and adoption.

“The board will hold its own public hearing and give the public additional opportunity to comment on the plan,” Evans said.

“Although work on the Comprehensive Plan is wrapping up, the committee’s work isn’t complete; it has already started the work of updating the land-use code, a process that should take four to six months.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam: kdedam@pressrepublican.com