Peter Keating, owner of a residential Lake George shoreline property near Million Dollar Beach, explains his objections to the planned relocation of a boat launch during a meeting held Nov. 14 by state Environmental Conservation officials.
As state DEC officials explained their pending project of reconstructing the Million Dollar Beach parking lot at a public meeting Nov. 14, local residents who live near where the beach’s boat launch is to be relocated voiced angry criticisms of the move. At times, people in the audience shouted their objections, interrupting the state Department of Environmental Conservation officials’ presentation. The shouts were loudest when DEC staffers said their plans weren’t subject to the state Environmental Quality Review process.
Although they defended their intentions to relocate the launch on the east side of Million Dollar Beach, the Department of Environmental Conservation officials listened to the citizens’ objections and said they would be re-evaluating where the boat launch should be situated.
The parking lot and the adjacent stretch of Beach Road are to be reconstructed with innovative porous pavement which is designed to allow stormwater to soak into the ground rather than run off the road and wash pollutants into the lake, they explained. New drainage is also planned to prevent the stormwater from flooding areas of the lot, particularly in the underpass near the beach’s bathhouse. Recurring flooding has closed off the underpass — a safe way to access the beach — for several years.
The project includes traffic pattern changes — including the construction of a roundabout and the conversion of a roadway beside the beach from one-way traffic to two-way. The changes are intended to abate traffic snarls, backups and confusion. A new drop-off point for people headed to the beach’s bathhouse will replace a crosswalk that now poses a danger to the public, DEC officials said.
These particular changes were praised by many in the overflow crowd that packed the Lake George Town Hall for the informational meeting.
But the re-positioning of the boat launch within several hundred feet of lakeshore residences, however, spurred plenty of angry objections from the property owners, who predicted unsafe boat traffic, noise and environmental degradation near their shoreline properties.
The proposed launch would be within 230 feet of the dock in front of Richard and Candy Barton’s house on Rose Point Lane, and within a few hundred more feet other nearby lakeshore properties. The possibility the launch and an accompanying boat-washing station might be open 24 hours per day also sparked concern.
Barton said the water at the proposed boat launch site was far too shallow to accommodate modern power boats.
Peter Keating, of 4 Rose Point Lane, agreed, noting he could walk across the bay to the Million Dollar Beach swimming area without the water reaching his knees because of accumulated sedimentation. DEC officials refuted the claim, saying they’d measured the water in 2012 — but they pledged to measure the depth again.
“We need to conduct another survey to see what‘s really going on,” DEC Regional Director Robert Stegemann said.
Keating also said the site was already busy without the addition of boat traffic.
“There are kayakers, canoeists, swimmers and fishermen in that area — it’s very popular,” he said. “If you add motorcraft, someone’s going to get hurt.”
He also said boat traffic would disturb the turtles, duck, blue herons now inhabiting the bay’s marshy area.
“These plans would be detrimental to wildlife,” he said.
Keating and Richard Barton said the boat traffic would threaten the safety of the local residents and guests swimming off their private beaches. Keating predicted that the million-dollar homes would lose 10 percent of their property value, causing a loss of tax revenue for the town.
The DEC officials detailed how they’d be establishing a new trail off the parking lot for snowmobiles, linking the lake to a regional sled route. Keating claimed this new connection would create “a highway for snowmobiles.”
“These changes will create tremendous noise and severe safety concerns,” he said.
Local resident Susan Bailey, an operating room nurse, predicted that the excessive noise would disrupt her sleep patterns, affecting her job performance.
“Do you want be rolled into my operating room when I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep?” she asked.
Ed Landry, a fisherman, confirmed the claim that the water was too shallow for boat navigation.
“You have to walk out 100 feet away from shore to reach deep water,” he said, noting that the area was also choked with lakeweeds — which wouldn’t mix with boat traffic.
Landry added that with marinas elsewhere on the lake charging $65 to $100 to park and launch, and the state’s likely charge of $15 at the public launch, there would be a huge demand for the 24 spaces allotted in the parking lot for boat trailers — and that number of spaces was grossly inadequate. Residents of Rose Point Lane and its vicinity predicted that cars and boats trailers would be jamming not only the parking lot, but nearby residential streets. A DEC official replied that tickets would be issued to anyone parking illegally.
Landry also said that snowmobiles would likely plunge through the lake ice, as it isn’t routinely thick in the bay where the boat launch is planned.
A local resident asked Stegemann that with all the predicted problems at Million Dollar Beach, why DEC officials felt they needed a boat launch there at all.
“Lake George is a public lake, and DEC feels it’s their responsibility to provide boat access,” Stegemann replied.
Keating suggested that the boat launch be located on the west side of the beach, with an access road branching off the planned roundabout. DEC Engineer Tom Miller replied that the east side of the swimming beach was chosenfor the launch because there was more room there.
Some residents questioned whether traffic — particularly vehicles pulling boats on trailers, could safely navigate down the new two-way road with its narrowed 11-feet-wide lanes. A local firefighter warned that the lanes needed to be wider for fire trucks to navigate.
Thomas Baird of Barton & Loguidice engineering firm, who redesigned the roadway, said the narrow lanes would keep drivers from parking on the shoulders, and would tend to calm traffic.
Charles Leonelli of Rose Point Lane asked if the town or any other agency had jurisdiction over the plans.
Stegemann replied that the Adirondack Park Agency is in the process of determining whether they have jurisdiction. He added that DEC attorneys contend that the town has no jurisdiction over the project, but the town of Lake George’s attorney is challenging that assertion.
Diamond Point resident Mike Segulic, objecting to ongoing pollution of Lake George, asked whether leaking sewage pipes under the parking lot would be repaired. DEC officials said they’d been developing plans for years to fix the pipes, and repairs were likely forthcoming.
Stegemann predicted that another public session would be held on the latter phase of the project, which includes the relocation of the boat launch. The roadway upgrades should be complete by mid-May next year, while the various parking lot upgrades and the boat launch would be ready for finished a year later, he said.