Press-Republican

June 29, 2013

State provides $17M for DEC upgrades

By KIM SMITH DEDAM Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — RAY BROOK — More than $17 million from state coffers is targeted for work at outdoor recreation areas this summer.

The bulk of it — $11.3 million — will be spent on projects in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Region 5, which includes Essex, Franklin and Clinton counties.

In an itemized spreadsheet, DEC spokesman David Winchell provided a look at how two state funds are disbursing the money.

The Environmental Protection Fund is providing capital for new trail work, signage, infrastructure upgrades at DEC Camp Colby and on newly opened former Finch, Pruyn and Co. lands, among 16 projects that account for $2.4 million in upgrades.

SARANAC LOCKS

Targeted repairs at the Saranac Lower Lock will draw $100,000.

The Lower Lock is a water-exchange mechanism moderated with gates between Lower Saranac Lake and Oseetah Lake to allow boat traffic to move between the two larger bodies of water.

“At Saranac Locks, $100,000 will be spent to rehabilitate and replace — if necessary — all of the electronic and hydraulic components of the lock-operation system. Hinge pins and plates will also be replaced,” Winchell said via email.

“The concrete walls will be rehabilitated and repaired. Work will begin this fall after the boating season.”

The lock system is not meant as a flood-prevention tool, but water raised and lowered through the gates directly impacts Lake Flower in the Village of Saranac Lake.

PERU BOAT LAUNCH

Other rounds of funding are coming from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York Works II initiative.

Several high-profile local recreation sites are benefiting from repairs, renovations or other access updates on popular waterways.

On Lake Champlain, repairs are planned for the Peru Boat Launch.

“New York Works will spend $200,000 to lengthen the docks and the pad to allow for the launching and retrieving of larger boats,” Winchell said.

“It will also support rehabilitation and reinforcement of a concrete wall that has been eroded by ice and wave action. Work will be undertaken this summer.”

VALCOUR LIGHTHOUSE

The historic Valcour Island Lighthouse will be getting a new roof.

“There is $350,000 allocated to undertake structural repairs and replace the roof on the lighthouse,” Winchell said. 

“Work will include improvements to the roof’s stormwater drainage system and lightning arrestors.”

That project, too, is set for this summer.

SECOND POND LAUNCH

In the Tri-Lakes region, two key DEC boat launches will be rehabilitated.

The state has allocated $1.4 million to completely rebuild the Second Pond Boat Launch just west of Saranac Lake.

Second Pond connects users to the Saranac chain of lakes.

The project includes enlarging, reconfiguring and paving the parking area; installing new docks and rehabilitating the pad to improve the process of launching and retrieving boats; and reconfiguring the entrance to the site, Winchell said.

The project met approval in Adirondack Park Agency review and went through several public hearings for feedback from area boat-launch users.

Work at the Second Pond boat launch will not begin until the fall, Winchell said, after the busiest part of the summer boating and camping season.

UPPER SARANAC LAUNCH

The Upper Saranac Boat Launch off Saranac Inn Road will also be rehabilitated at a cost of $450,000.

The project looks to pave the parking lot, install new docks and rehabilitate the boat-launch pad, Winchell said.

“This work has not yet been scheduled.”

LAKE GEORGE BEACH

New York Works funding accounts for an overall $12 million targeted for recreation access and site improvements.

A total of just over $9 million of the funds are being spent in DEC Region 5.

The biggest project is planned renovations at the Million Dollar Beach on Lake George for $3 million.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a prepared statement that access to state parks improves the quality of life for all residents of the state.

“These projects will help to ensure that our outdoor recreation facilities are easily accessible and offer a multitude of activities for people of all ages,” he said.

A total $134,492 of combined Environmental Protection Fund and NY Works money will be spent in New York City.

Last year, more than 10 million people visited DEC lands and facilities.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:

kdedam@pressrepublican.com