SARANAC LAKE - Village trustees tabled a decision Tuesday on relocating the proposed site of the village skateboard park.
The decision came after the board heard comments from nine local residents about a new proposal to put the skatepark on the site of an existing tennis court in the village park at the corner of Ampersand Avenue and Broadway. The village had previously planned to locate the skateboard park behind the village police station and the former village offices at 3 Main St.
Trustee Barbara Rice told the Enterprise Tuesday that "circumstances have changed drastically" since the village decided to lease its former offices to Myriad RBM, a biotech company that relocated here from Lake Placid. The company hopes to expand and would need the additional space behind the building for more parking, Rice said.
"It would have complicated things (if the skatepark was developed there)," Rice said. "That made us step back and ask, 'Is this the best place?"
Half the people who spoke at Monday's meeting said they supported the idea of putting the skatepark in the Broadway-Ampersand park, which had been previously explored in 2006 before it was ruled out.
"The location is safe, and it would improve the facilities for our youth in our village, which I personally think is a very important thing to do," said Margo Nagle.
"I think the setting is perfect there," said Natalie Leduc. "That's an ideal location, and it's safe. I heartily approve of placing the skateboard park at that location. It's overdue."
But others, primarily several neighboring property owners, raised concerns and objections to the use of the Broadway-Ampersand site.
"Right now there's the tennis courts and the basketball courts there, and if you go by at 7 in the morning, there's a group playing tennis or there's a group of older guys that are playing basketball," said Cindy Wheeler Nadon. "I think if you move that (skatepark) there, you're going to be taking something away from that park, whether it's the tennis courts or the basketball courts."
Bob Farmer, who owns the home behind the tennis courts on McClelland Avenue, where his mother lives, said a skateboard park had been located in the park in the past.
"When the skatepark was there before, kids would go through my mother's yard and jump the fence," he said. "Kids would go to the bathroom back there. It's loud. There's got to be a better site."
Barbara Martin, who lives on Broadway, also said she witnessed problems when the skateboard park was there before.
"Yes, there's sidewalks and traffic lights there, but you have to use those," she said. "Too many skateboarders went right down Ampersand Avenue into the roadway. That is my biggest concern right now is the safety part."
Mary Bartel, who owns Innerquest Yoga and Wellness Center on Broadway with her husband, said they have "concerns as business owners and landlords regarding the location in Ampersand Park, primarily because of the increased noise that will occur, and the proximity of the skatepark to the wellness center and surrounding homes."
Bartel also asked if other sites were considered, such as Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, Mount Pisgah Ski Center or the Saranac Lake Civic Center.
When the resolution to designate the Ampersand-Broadway park as the future site for a skateboard park came up during the board meeting, it was quickly and unanimously tabled by trustees.
Rice said possible skatepark sites were considered based on several criteria including the cost to the village, accessibility to kids, visibility, impact on the neighborhood, safety and the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee's own criteria.
Based on those factors, Rice and Trustee Allie Pelletieri said Mount Pisgah and Dewey Mountain were ruled out because they were too far away for kids who don't drive to get there. Pelletieri said the town of Harrietstown had been approached about using land it owns behind the civic center, but the town's insurance guidelines, and the fact that the skatepark wouldn't be visible there, led to that site being ruled out, although Pelletieri said he'd approach the town again.
"Part of the reason the Ampersand Park one seems to work well is that it is part of a park, and there are other things going on there, and that's one of the criteria that's been identified for making a successful park," Rice said.
Trustee Tom Catillaz, who lives on Ampersand Avenue, said he had concerns about losing the tennis court in the park.
"I don't understand tearing up a good tennis court that's used heavily in the summertime," he said.
Trustee Paul Van Cott said his biggest concern is what the skatepark would cost the village.
"Is this something like Mount Pisgah, where the Friends of Mount Pisgah basically pick up the cost of maintenance and making sure the project is fully implemented, or is this something where there's a significant investment required by the village?" Van Cott asked.
Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau ended the discussion by saying the village will continue to look at alternative sites for the skateboard park.
"We've got a lot of people here with great interest and great passion about either the park or skateboarding and youth activities," he said. "To the members of the skateboard committee, all the alternatives will be broached here to go through your criteria. Hopefully we can find something that works."
Earlier on Tuesday, Rice had named another possible site that didn't come up at the meeting: Pelkey Lane, a dead-end road that runs between Petrova Avenue and LaPan Highway, up the hill from the site of the current makeshift skatepark behind the police station.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.