SARANAC LAKE - The village has narrowed the list of possible locations for a skateboard park to two sites, with trustees "leaning" toward a downtown site that's currently a village parking lot as their preferred option.
"(Trustee) Barb (Rice) and I have been meeting regularly with village staff and, at different times, the skateboard committee," Trustee Allie Pelletieri reported at Monday night's village board meeting. "And at this moment we are all leaning toward the mid-town park, and that would be behind the Community Bank on Broadway."
The other possible site is one the board has considered on and off for at least the past eight years - the village park at the corner of Broadway and Ampersand Avenue. The village decided last month to take another look at that site after scrapping plans to put the skateboard park in a parking lot behind the village police station and former village offices at 3 Main St. Village officials said the biotech company leasing the former village offices plans to expand and would need the additional space for more parking.
Cars sit in a parking lot behind Community Bank and next to the Enterprise this moring in downtown Saranac Lake, the now-favored site for a village skateboard park that’s been in the works for years.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
However, neighbors have raised concerns about using the Broadway-Ampersand park, citing concerns about noise, trespassing and safety. Others were upset about the potential loss of the tennis court.
A map of the proposed downtown site provided to the Enterprise shows what would be a 7,170-square-foot skatepark located in a portion of the village parking lot between Community Bank and Twin D Automotive. A section of the skatepark would be built into what is now a grassy slope next to the Enterprise. Roughly seven parking spaces would be lost by the move, although Rice told the Enterprise that the other half of the parking lot could be reconfigured so the net loss of parking would only be four spaces.
"One of the things that's been appealing to us about this site is not only are we not going to have to remove an existing tennis court - it's really centrally located," Rice said. "It's a great location in terms of kids being able to access it from wherever their neighborhood is. It's taking an area close to the River Walk and investing in this, right in the center of town. It adds something."
"I like the fact that we don't have to disturb a neighborhood," Pelletieri said. "This is a downtown commercial lot. You've got a garage there, the newspaper's there. A little bit more noise down there I don't think should upset anybody."
The village and SkatePark Committee members approached Enterprise Publisher Catherine Moore about the possibility of using some of the grassy area next to the newspaper's building for part of the skatepark site. Moore said she doesn't want anything permanent there, in case the Enterprise ever expands.
"They were talking about using some benches there, and that's fine. Anything temporary is fine," Moore told the Enterprise this morning. "I'm concerned, though, with vandalism because we've had that in the past. If that becomes the spot, I'd like to request some flood lighting to deter any temptation."
Rice noted that the site behind Community Bank would meet some of the SkatePark Committee's criteria: It's within walking distance of schools and homes, it's a visible site where there could be passive supervision, and there are sidewalks and safe routes for kids to get there.
The site does have at least one complication. The proposed site of the skatepark would run alongside a rear entryway to Community Bank, and village officials are researching whether the bank or anyone else has easements on the property. If there are, that could be a "game changer," Rice said. A village sewer line also crosses the parking lot, but Pelletieri said it's not in the location where the skatepark is proposed.
Pelletieri said a cost analysis of the two possible sites the village is now considering will have to be performed. The village would contribute in-kind services to the project, helping excavate and provide fill at whatever site is picked.
SkatePark Committee members, in a Nov. 19 letter to the village board, ranked a list of six possible sites for the skateboard park. The parking lot behind Community Bank was fourth-best on the list, with William Morris Park at the top of the rankings followed by the Broadway-Ampersand park and the parking lot behind the old village offices. Sites on Pelkey Lane and behind the Saranac Lake Civic Center got the lowest ratings.
The committee's letter also includes a comparison of costs and labor involved for each possible site. The cost of putting a skatepark in either the Broadway-Ampersand Park site or the parking lot behind Community Bank is estimated at $111,000. The group has raised about $71,000 so far.
Each site would involve about 12 weeks of volunteer labor and one week of village work with a dump truck and front-end loader. The committee would build a concrete park in either site, instead of using steel ramps that the town of North Elba planned to donate to the group.
SkatePark Committee members and local skateboarders were on hand for Monday's meeting. They urged the board to make a decision soon.
"Time is of the essence as we lose opportunities for grants and to fundraise, as we still have no permanent site," said Jon Vinograd. "If we want to open by next summer, which is our intent, then we urgently encourage the board to make a vote and find a site for us by the end of this calendar year."
If they get all the information they need, both Rice and Pelletieri said they think the board could be ready to pick a site in the next few weeks.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.