Fire tower proposed in Saranac Lake

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau invited professional fire tower restorer Dave Vana to speak at the village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night to float the idea of installing a fire tower in the village.

According to documents Vana distributed at the meeting, a 35-foot tower, 44 feet tall with the cabin on top, would cost roughly $50,000.

“We’re not talking tax dollars; we’ve got some fundraising mechanisms and grant opportunities available to the village that we’d like to explore,” Rabideau said. “But I thought it would be beneficial to first have Dave show us what he has to offer.”

“When the mayor talked to me the other day, we discussed it, and I’d be willing to help the builders by doing this at very close to cost,” Vana said. His business, Davana LLC, is based at his home near Bloomingdale.

However, structures in excess of 40 feet tall require a variance permit from the state Adirondack Park Agency. Vana said he can make adjustments to the proposed fire tower to bring it in at 39 feet and 5 inches, if need be.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the potential for public use and tourism use across the country,” Rabideau said.

The mayor said the idea for a fire tower struck him while in Brooklyn, seeing a fire tower reinstalled there. Rabideau then asked his neighbor about it, who informed him that “the nation’s premier fire tower restorer hails from Vermontville.”

“We’re fully insured for this,” Vana said. “This is all I do, build fire towers all around the country.” He added that his company could erect a tower in four weeks.

Town board members asked about varying tower heights to get under the APA limit, possible locations and sourcing towers — namely trying to find a tower originally from the Adirondacks. The question of a fire tower for Saranac Lake is on the table to be discussed at future meetings, the next of which is Oct. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at Harrietstown Town Hall.