A no swimming sign is posted at the park on Lake Flower in Saranac Lake where the original municipal beach was located until the mid-1970s.
Only four months after joining the Saranac Lake Village Board, Trustee Paul Van Cott is tackling an emotional issue for residents: re-establishing a municipal beach at Lake Flower.
Since the village beach was moved from Lake Flower to Lake Colby in 1976, residents have debated whether it should be moved back to a central location, its original location at Lake Flower. The beach at Lake Flower was closed in order to build the state highway on River Street in the mid-1970s, a stretch of road the Adirondack Daily Enterprise once called a “four-lane drag strip.” (It is no longer four lanes.) The move was by no means popular.
A number of residents have unsuccessfully submitted proposals and petitions to the Village Board over the years to reopen a beach at Lake Flower. The inconvenient distance from downtown and complaints of “duck itch” have plagued Lake Colby’s image and hurt its attendance over the years.
Accessibility has been the main issue, so much so that a bike path was built in 1976 prior to Lake Colby’s opening. But it’s had little effect to gain the hearts and minds of many local swimmers.
Yet recent pleas from residents — especially Shawn Boyer — have caught the attention of the current Village Board. Van Cott is now studying whether it’s feasible to move the beach back to Lake Flower.
On Friday, Aug. 3, Van Cott posted a Lake Flower beach update on his Facebook page, stating that the first water quality sample passed state Department of Health standards, “which is good news. Regular water quality sampling would be required to ensure that the beach is safe for swimming.”
Van Cott said he is setting up meetings with officials at the DOH, state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation to explore the regulatory hurdles. Regulation is a field familiar to Van Cott, as he is an attorney at the Adirondack Park Agency.
“I am also talking with a consultant about what it would take (including costs) to develop a plan and to obtain all of the approvals that the village would need for a beach,” Van Cott wrote. “There is no village money budgeted for this year for this project, but my goal is to get it as far along as possible so that it can be considered with everything else for next year’s budget.”
Van Cott told the Valley News July 23 that before any decisions are made regarding the re-establishment of a municipal beach at Lake Flower, residents would be invited to give input during a public meeting. A date for that meeting has not yet been set, and Village Board members have not discussed the issue at any recent meetings.