Photo by Lohr McKinstry
Consultant Michael Crane got input at a recent Moriah Waterfront Steering Committee meeting for a waterfront development plan he’s writing.
MORIAH – The Town of Moriah is on its way to having a development plan for its waterfront on Lake Champlain.
The town’s share of lakefront will be expanding on April 1, following the dissolution of the Village of Port Henry the day before.
Port Henry has a public campground, beach and park that will all become town property.
What to do with all that waterfront is the subject of a study being prepared by Michael Crane of Crane Associates of Burlington, Vt.
The town already owns the Bulwagga Bay Campground and Town Beach on the lake.
Crane gathered members of the Town Waterfront Steering Committee for a recent session to discuss the plan.
“My contract is to the town, to find the best possible use of the waterfront for economic development,” he said. “A vibrant waterfront would spur more foot traffic to downtown Port Henry, up onto Main Street.”
He said he reviewed previous waterfront plans for the town and village.
“I went back to 1970 and wrote down all the things (in the plans) that were done and weren’t done,” Crane said. “It’s all possible; it’s all moving forward.”
When he asked for vibrant waterfronts in other places, participants named places like the Million Dollar Beach at Lake George.
“Do you see vibrancy and why?” Crane said.
Linda Smyth said she looks for certain things at a successful waterfront.
“I like to see color, style, music, art,” she said. “We have history here that reminds you of a different era.”
Those are all part of what makes a place a great destination for visitors, Crane said.
Those at the meeting agreed the Moriah/Port Henry waterfront has great assets in two beaches, two marinas, a public boat launch, two campgrounds, a fishing pier and an expansive view of Lake Champlain.
“What’s missing?” Crane asked.
“Rooms,” Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava answered. There’s no place to stay. We need a motel.”
There are seasonal cabin rentals, some B&Bs, but no year-round motel. The Village Inn did open downtown recently with four rooms, as part of the Red Brick Cafe complex.
“What’s the most important purpose of the waterfront?”Crane asked.
“To provide recreational opportunities for residents and visitors,” Town Councilor Luci Carpenter said.
“To provide economic support to the Town of Moriah,” committee member Marty Nephew said.
Scozzafava said the Bulwagga Bay Campground is the town’s biggest source of non-tax revenue.
Once thing that will soon help the downtown, he said, is a $100,000 state grant the town just received to replace sidewalks and install ornate lightpoles in the business district.
“There are opportunities,” Crane said. “What’s missing and what’s needed are not conflicting. I’ll try to marry your objectives with economic reality.”
Next, he said he plans to do intercept interviews around town with the public in March, to gather more input on the waterfront. About 70 people are needed for the eight-question, 10-minute interviews, he said.