Final draft plans for city's future unveiled

John Behan from Behan Planning and Design presents an update on the City of Plattsburgh’s Comprehensive Master Plan during a public hearing in City Hall Tuesday.

PLATTSBURGH — Recreation opportunities are what consultants see when looking to the future of the City of Plattsburgh.

The final drafts of the City of Plattsburgh’s Comprehensive Master Plan and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) were presented by consultants from Saratoga Associates and Behan Planning and Design at a City Hall public meeting Tuesday.

The last draft meeting, which was held on Aug. 1, gave consultants from both businesses a chance to incorporate additional community feedback into the Comprehensive Master Plan’s final draft that was unveiled Tuesday.

The plan now shows a heavy focus on improving recreation in the city.

ROADMAP TO THE FUTURE

John Behan from Behan Planning and Design said a city typically updates their Comprehensive Master Plan, which serves as a vision and guide to decision making for the municipality’s foreseeable future, every 10 years or so.

“It’s a roadmap looking ahead to the future. It sets goals, it sets strategies and policies,” Behan said.

The city’s current plan, though, is 23 years old, necessitating some modernization.

“The comprehensive plan that is currently in place in the city is kind of like an old car — 1999-era, still runs, but it’s not as up to date, it’s not current, it doesn’t have the latest things that you might want with something that is important as this — so it’s great the city has gotten to this point,” Behan said.

“The vision for the city is one of vibrancy and overall recognizing the history of the city, (and) its culture. The mixed-use fabric that you have right now, walkable neighborhoods, abundant affordable housing, we all know there’s room for improvement, there’s always room for improvement … Fortunately, the city has a strong base of renewable energy, hydroelectric power, environmental sustainability responsibility as a core value in the vision. It’s part of the heart of the North Country; it’s walkable. A metropolitan destination city,” he continued.

“There’s a lot to be thankful for in this city, right? You think about it, a lot of cities don’t have what Plattsburgh has and the natural assets here…”

ACCESS TO THE WATERFRONT

Among the natural assets Behan was referring to include Lake Champlain and the Saranac River.

Subsequent to Behan’s presentation was Saratoga Associates consultant Emily Gardner’s on the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program plans, which were updated in conjunction with the Comprehensive Master Plan and will be followed by revisions to the city zoning ordinance to facilitate the implementation of both.

One of the main goals of the LWRP is improving physical and visual access to the waterfront — whether that’s Lake Champlain or the Saranac River — all over the city.

“As we picked up in an earlier draft of this program, we realized the river had been left out,” Gardner said.

“But it’s a pretty important waterfront. So we expanded the boundary to include the Saranac Riverfront.”

HARBOR MANAGEMENT PLAN

The LWRP also includes a piece called the Harbor Management Plan, Gardner said.

While the LWRP focuses on the landside of the waterfront areas of the city, the Harbor Management Plan focuses on how the water is being used by those who interact with it, like swimming, fishing and boating, she said.

“So some of the overall goals were mainly improving connectivity, so to and from the water, between the waterfront and downtown, how can we incorporate complete streets? There are a lot of trails, can we connect those trails to one another where gaps exist?”

“How can we provide some of the non-physical access, so visuals to the waterfront, and do all of this while still keeping the environment in mind to be sensitive to natural resources?”

‘WHAT TYPES OF EVENTS?’

At the conclusion of both presentations, community members in attendance were given a chance to ask questions and provide feedback on either plans.

One city resident had raised questions about the potential plans for the City Beach.

Gardner had mentioned they looked at someday adding a performance space to the beach, a broader trail network, along with other buildings such as concessions, a bathhouse and a multi-person space available to the community.

“What types of events would work in this area? and what kind of an audience draw, or tourism draw that it might have? One of the events that we do is the Battle of Plattsburgh, which I always thought we could really capitalize on from a reenactor point of view … and draw lots of people,” the resident said.

“I’m not sure that outdoor concerts would have the same kind of draw … so I’m just wondering if you guys did a study or if those sorts of studies are available?”

EVENTS LARGE OR SMALL

Gardner said they hadn’t done a study on what types of events would be provided but rather the size of the event.

“So really it could host whatever it might be best suited for. Whether that’s a big concert, whether you want to rival SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) in Saratoga … whether it’s that kind of level of event or like I said, something really big like the Battle of Plattsburgh,” she said.

“Hopefully, the idea is to create a space that can just lend itself to those types of events; whatever it might be — large or small.”

The city common council still has to review and approve both plans in the near future.

In the meantime, the city and the advisory committee are continuing to encourage residents to review the full draft plans, which are accessible at https://cityofplattsburgh-ny.gov/node/1940, and submit questions and comments on the City website.

Email: cnewton@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: CarlySNewton

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