August 27, 2013

Editorial: Exciting prospects ahead for town


---- — The people who govern the Town of Plattsburgh have their eye on Lake Champlain and the Saranac River, and who could blame them? Any community that doesn’t fully avail itself of such rich natural resources hasn’t been paying attention.

The town wants to do a planning study to find new ways to access the river and lake waterfronts. The intention seems to be focused primarily on the recreational opportunities that could open up for residents. That makes perfect sense.

But let’s not forget the direct and indirect economic benefits of having an easy path to the lake and river shores.

People are drawn from the outside to the North Country for all sorts of reasons. The history of the region, as well as the beauty and recreation that come with the lakes and mountains, bring tourists from near and far.

Those people stay at hotels in the area, eat at local restaurants and shop at local malls and stores.

The city and town have capitalized on this for generations. Everyone knows, for example, the economic advantages that the numerous fishing tournaments that take place every summer on Lake Champlain bring to the area.

So, if the town has one more weapon in its arsenal — the ready availability of the shorelines of the Saranac River and Lake Champlain — it would see even greater prosperity, and even a town as prosperous as Plattsburgh can always use that.

The town is wisely looking at other waterfront-blessed regions to conceive ideas that could supplement local plans for how to tap in on the waterfront.

It’s not that the town should be thinking only of tourists when pondering waterfront enhancements. One of the focuses is trying to gain town access to the city’s Saranac River Trail, which is touted as a health benefactor for local people trying to gain exercise in attractive surroundings.

Cumberland Bay is a natural for both locals and tourists, and the upcoming American Windsurfing Tour late next month has been cited as proof of the potential of the town’s shoreline for out-of-area activity — and money.

This recent initiative will certainly be a significant boon to all town residents, if it’s carried out right. But it will also be a source of sales-tax revenue.

We look forward to public sessions that will solicit opinions on the project, where money should be spent, which specific elements should be pursued and how exactly to proceed.

The people of the town will benefit from whatever emerges from these discussions, and in so many ways.