PLATTSBURGH — Luke Cyphers wants to start a dialogue about the many recreational blessings Clinton County residents can enjoy.
He and other proponents want to promote what already exists and explore ways to expand recreational opportunities for everyone in the North Country.
“We need to attract new business, new workers and new taxpayers and keep the ones here to maintain a thriving community,” said Cyphers, chairman of the Saranac River Trail Advisory Committee and member of the Vision2Action task force.
He spoke at a recent gathering of the community and recreation experts at Plattsburgh State called Recreation Opportunities in Clinton County. It was hosted by the Partnership for Community Development.
Cyphers moderated the event.
Clinton County Director of Public Health Jerie Reid explained how recreation can help tackle the obesity epidemic, as well as disease and chronic health issues.
At least 51 percent of children in Clinton County are overweight and obese.
The top causes of death in Clinton County are heart disease and cancer, which are often caused by lack of recreational activity, tobacco use and poor nutrition.
“This is about changing the fabric of the community we live in,” Reid said.
Steve Peters, Plattsburgh City Recreation Director, discussed the recreation task force and the ideas explored through that gathering. The focus, he said, is on what will have the most impact with the least amount of effort.
Many of the ideas simply deal with promoting what already exists in the area, such as kayaking and bike routes.
Suggestions included expanding the Saranac River Trail, increased water access for boating, more bike lanes, an enhanced mountain biking community, an adventure race, indoor soccer tournaments and the construction of an indoor sports complex, as well as an indoor water park.
“Just because it is hard to implement doesn’t mean we should ignore it,” Peters said.
He stressed that the region is unique and must be better promoted.
Clinton County Recreation Director Molly Flynn discussed the programs she coordinates for area youth, while Melanie Defayette, Town of Plattsburgh Recreation Director, outlined what the town has to offer.
Peters then described the many programs and opportunities available through the City of Plattsburgh.
Local businessman Neil Fesette suggested the three entities combine, joining forces to offer more programs while saving money. He suggested the area create a local parks and recreation institute.
“Wouldn’t it be neat if all you guys were working under one roof and it was a unified effort?”
This would enhance promotion efforts and provide a central information source. Resources and budgets would be pooled together for the benefit of the area, Fesette said.
“When businesses merge there are natural efficiencies,” he said. “We need to make our recreation opportunities as good as we can make them. Do we want to be status quo, or do we want to step it up?”