Press-Republican

August 20, 2013

Playground sparks waterfront renewal in Tupper

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — TUPPER LAKE — A new play park for youngsters under construction here beside Raquette Pond is part of waterfront-redevelopment efforts.

“This is the first phase of many in what we refer to as the ‘Jewel of Tupper Lake’ — that being Raquette Pond,” Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun said.

“We’re rejuvenating the ball field, too, putting all new lights in there. That’s right in the park where we hold the annual Woodsmen’s Days.”

The project is supported with a State Department of State grant award.

GROWTH OVER TIME

Local officials and State Department of State administrators see the Little Loggers Playground as a catalyst, one of several ongoing downtown waterfront investments that at some point could prove a draw for business and residential growth.

“When I was a kid, there was a swimming pool there, teeter-totters and swings,” Maroun recalled.

The project cost is about $215,000, which includes overall redesign of the waterfront, placement of children’s playground features, a seating area, plug-ins for phone chargers and park wireless Internet access.

Wireless access was activated when broadband was brought into village by the Development Authority of the North Country in June.

BEACH DREAMS

Tupper Lake is also researching the potential for adding a new town beach at Raquette Pond inside the hamlet boundaries.

It would be added to a stretch of Raquette Pond west of the Little Loggers, off Demars Boulevard, heading toward Tupper Junction.

“We are testing the water to make sure it’s clear and clean enough,” Maroun said in a recent interview.

“All of this is adding up to the local’s part to get Tupper Lake ready for the Adirondack Club and Resort project and new business prospects. The more activity we generate, the more investors will take interest in the community.”

Little Loggers Playground was designed with Adirondack-themed play features that blend conceptually with the Wild Center, situated not far across town.

GRANTS COMBINED

Melissa McManus is project coordinator for the Department of State and has been working with Tupper Lake community planners on the overall, multi-phase waterfront program.

“Playground construction improvements are part of three different Planning and Economic Development grants that brought $300,000 in local construction monies to the waterfront, including the playground and a new gateway,” McManus explained.

“There will also be a new gated park entrance built from Mill Street with a rustic gateway arch. The overall goal is to bring the Wild Center type of experience further into the community: The playground was all done with natural design elements.”

The cohesive concept was actually put in motion five years ago.

“Tupper Lake did some Smart Growth planning in 2008, and that was the theme chosen by the community. With this entire waterfront park, the community’s plan is to establish a tourism draw in the heart of their downtown area. 

“It already has Wi-Fi access, so we’re hoping people will come and sit and enjoy the natural beauty of Tupper Lake,” McManus said.

TIMELINE

The children’s playground at Little Loggers should be completed by the end of September, given availability of Village Department of Public Works crews.

“This includes a lot of in-kind work from the Village of Tupper Lake DPW and Electrical Department,” McManus explained.

“And for next year, the Wild Center has designed some interpretive panels to be placed around the park.”

Playground elements were purchased with an additional $35,000 secured by Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury), Maroun said.

HOTEL EYED

And there is more revitalization underway.

“There is also an area of waterfront being considered for possible hotel development.

“We are working on several concepts for reuse of the Oval Wood Dish facility, which we toured recently with Dr. Stephen Tyrell, president of North Country Community College,” Maroun said. 

“But this first phase of a multi-phase rejuvenation of the park works from the Little Loggers Playground toward new volleyball and tennis courts, to the baseball diamond to a village beach. Just to the west of that, across the road, is where the new emergency services building will go.”

The $4.5 million new Fire/Police Station was approved by village taxpayers in early May.

Construction is awaiting final grant award figures from federal and state agencies. The taxpayers agreed to bond for $3.2 million to invest in the new shared-services building.

The village also recently approved a resolution to seek $800,000 in two housing rehabilitation grant programs, one federal and one state, to help property owners fund needed repairs on their homes.

RECREATION TRAIL

An Alternative Trails Committee of some 30 local residents and town leaders has also begun to assess locations for multi-use recreational trail connections through the village, along railroad tracks, connecting waterfront areas.

The trails would be accessible to hikers, bicycles and snowmobiles. 

One possible 4-mile loop could ideally connect the restored train depot at Tupper Junction to the Little Wolf town beach area. 

“These are the type of things showing progress in Tupper,” Maroun said.

“It’s starting.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam: kdedam@pressrepublican.com