LAKE PLACID - The village board unanimously approved a contract letting a waterskiing competition use Mirror Lake.
The 2014 Eastern Region Water Ski Championship regional qualifier will begin on July 28 (Editor's note: This date has been corrected) and run until Aug. 3. That puts it in between two other busy events, the Ironman triathlon and the Can-Am Rugby tournament.
The board's decision, months in the making, is the final approval needed for the event to be held here. In December, the board gave approval but did not agree to a contract. Villagers and the board aired concerns in January about having it held on Mirror Lake.
There were some people who voiced opposition to the idea of having motorized boats on the lake for environmental, noise and safety reasons. Mirror Lake Watershed Association officials announced opposition to the competition. MLWA Chairman Bill Billerman could not be reached by press time for comment.
Ultimately, Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said those worries were sorted out by having several meetings with John Wilkins, an attorney and waterskier who is organizing the competition.
"We addressed their concerns in as reasonable a way as we could so the event could still take place," Randall said. "In order to have a reasonably successful event, we are addressing issues of safety, and the second issue was to make sure it wouldn't become a nuisance to land owners near the race course."
"Most of the things the village asked me to do, I've had no problem doing," Wilkins said.
It's been about 20 years since the last time waterskiing was allowed on Mirror Lake.
The competition will bring around 160 to 180 waterskiers to the area. They will compete by waterskiing between poles, jumping and performing tricks. It is sanctioned by USA Water Ski.
"From an economic standpoint it certainly will add to the income of our businesses and community," Randall said of the visitors. "We are willing to give it a shot and see if we can balance the needs of the community with the promoter."
The Lake Placid watersking event will be one of five regional championships this year. The national championship in San Marco, Texas starts on August 11.
Wilkins said the reason the event had to begin in July was because there has to be a reasonable amount of time for the competitors before the national tournament in Texas.
"USA Water Ski has a detailed set of rules and the regional tournament has to be set in a reasonable amount of time before the national tournament," Wilkins said. "So the regionals will have to finish a week before nationals begin."
Wilkins said he understands it's a busy time of the month in Lake Placid.
"Pick a weekend in July that is not already busy," Wilkins said. "But thank God we have that problem. ... There really wasn't a better weekend to do the event."
Wilkins agreed to set up a "wake attenuation system" around the raceway to help disperse the boat's waves.
"They'll absorb some wake energy," Wilkins said.
He said it's a popular misconception that ski boats create big waves. He also agreed to change the path the boats will take, moving them farther from the lake's shoreline.
Wilkins said he is attempting to please locals with the changes but also keep the waterskiers happy.
"I'm hoping, after the event is over, people who had real concerns will say that it was a great event and the concerns they had didn't come to fruition," Wilkins said.
Village Trustee Jason Leon said he is cautiously optimistic about the competition.
"I would like the event to be a success; I hope it is." Leon said. "We'll look for feedback from residents of the village on whether they thought it was well conducted."
If the event does go well, there is always the possibility the competition could be held here again next year. USA Water Ski has awarded Wilkins the regional race for a two-year period.
Contact Matthew Turner at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.