Press-Republican

August 22, 2013

Town of Plattsburgh eyes waterfront plan

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — The Town of Plattsburgh wants to develop a waterfront revitalization plan.

Town Planning Technician Trevor Cole said they would like to do a planning study and action plan on the waterfront areas in the town, especially the Saranac River and Lake Champlain.

That would include ways to improve public access to the water and connection to the City of Plattsburgh’s Saranac River Trail.

Cole said one of the priorities at the Clinton County Strategic Health seminar earlier this year was to create more access to the area’s natural features.

“If you don’t build it, they can’t come,” Cole said. “This is a chance to highlight the gems that are already here.”

The town would look at how to connect to the trail at the City of Plattsburgh line and expand it through the town and other communities, such as the Town of Schuyler Falls. 

Cole said recent changes to the town’s Zoning Ordinance included about 5 miles of Saranac River shoreline as Land Conservation district. That limits uses on that land between 100 and 200 feet in from the riverbank. 

FUNDING APPLICATION

Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said improved access to and utilization of the waterfront areas were identified in the town’s recent Strategic Economic Development Plan as one of the keys to sustain growth. The town’s location on what is billed as “the Adirondack Coast” has been a focus for the past year or so, he said.

Cumberland Bay is seeing increasing use as a site for windsurfing and related activities, as indicated by the upcoming American Windsurfing Tour, set for Sept. 28 and 29. To that end, the town should look at increased access to the water on Cumberland Head, Cole said. 

Town officials have looked at other waterfront and trail communities for ideas, such as those along the Erie Canal Trail in Central New York.

The idea is not just to create a plan but to put its conclusions into action, they said. It will hopefully identify a number of shovel-ready projects that could be done sooner rather than later.

Cole said they have submitted a consolidated funding application to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council through the State Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The town has requested $25,000, which it would be required to match. 

Cole said 20 percent of the match can be in-kind services by town personnel.

PUBLIC INPUT

Bassett said that one of the prerequisites for many funding sources is that the applicant have a plan in place. 

The town expects to host at least two public-input sessions, as well as a public visioning session.

The supervisor said the town has long sought to increase recreational opportunities for its residents and tourists, and the initiative would just be the latest step to address the issue.

“The town has had a focus on issues like childhood obesity and personal health,” he added. “This would provide more ways to help people engage in a healthy lifestyle.”

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com