For many reasons, the Enterprise is happy to welcome the Adirondack Carousel to William Morris Park in Saranac Lake:
-The carousel will make Saranac Lake more attractive, fun and family friendly.
-It's going to be built in a good location - a children's play park, highly visible at a main intersection, in a commercial area with much growth potential, backing up to one of Saranac Lake's larger family neighborhoods.
-The park's heavily used play structures will either be retained - like the basketball court, swings and HeadStart playground structure - or improved, like the rest playground equipment which desperately needed to go. With its bars and logs too far apart for young children and its splintery, pressure-treated timber frame, it was unsafe. Now it's gone, and good riddance.
There really aren't any down sides to it except for a loss of some green space - although there's plenty of that in other village parks, like the one at Ampersand Avenue and Broadway - and perhaps the annoyance of parents whose children nag them to ride it over and over and over again. Those cons are dwarfed by this project's many pros.
It was almost exactly 11 years ago that Karen Loffler and the late Chuck Brumley first pitched the idea for the carousel at a village board meeting. It seemed like a lofty goal at the time, especially since they wanted to do it without any public funds - just donations and volunteer carving of 26 Adirondack animals.
That expectation mostly held true. At one point the Carousel used a grant to pay staff - when it had them - and now the village is using a state grant from Sen. Betty Little to replace the playground equipment, which was and will be owned by the village. Again, replacing that playground was imperative, carousel or no.
Critics of the carousel have focused on it not being necessary or contributing much to economic development. They're right about those things. Although boosters argue that the carousel will spur tourism, the quantity of that is doubtful and unreliable, especially in light of the limited tourism generated over the last decade by the nearby Adirondack Scenic Railroad. The two attractions might feed off each other, and the neighboring Stewart's Shop will benefit, but beyond that, any tourist spending in Saranac Lake should be greeted as a pleasant surprise.
But so what? Taxpayers didn't bankroll the carousel; donors did. Its wooden Adirondack animals are awe-inspiring, and we expect the building that houses the carousel will be beautiful as well.
Most of all, it will make kids happy, and many adults as well. There's something about a carousel - we don't pretend to fully appreciate it, but we recognize it when we see kids beg to ride one again or hear adults of a certain age talk glowingly about the musical play/movie "Carousel."
This is nothing but a positive addition to the village, and we're excitedly waiting to see it take shape.