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Have your say on River Walk options Nov. 7

Consulting firm Barton & Loguidice’s three plans for extending connecting the Dorsey Street and Broadway sections of the Saranac Lake River Walk. Alternative 1 is no longer feasible. (Photo provided)

SARANAC LAKE — This village is getting ready to redesign part of its River Walk, and it wants your input.

The village will hold an open house workshop Thursday, Nov. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Saranac Lake Free Library’s Cantwell Room to collect feedback on draft designs that have been generated for the River Walk extension and Dorsey Street parking lot. The open house is an opportunity for the public to see the preliminary designs for each project and provide input on the location of amenities, materials, landscaping, integration with local businesses and other design elements.

Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with the consultant team from Barton & Loguidice and village representatives. The consultants will prepare a final schematic design for each project based on the input gathered during the meeting.

The 1.5-mile round-trip River Walk first opened in the 1990s. Right now it starts behind the village police station at 1 Main St., extends along the river and takes a break at the Dorsey Street parking lot and bridge. It then picks up again at the Broadway Bridge and ends at Tops supermarket. Originally, and going into these redesigns, the goal was to have one continuous walk.

The first design would see a wider pedestrian walkway added to the Dorsey Street bridge and enhanced sidewalks along Dorsey Street. People would walk this route, pass by St. Regis Canoe Outfitters and continue on to the River Walk structure off of the Broadway Bridge.

The closed section of the Saranac Lake River Walk from the state Route 3 overpass to behind Rice Furniture is seen Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

The other idea would keep the River Walk on the side of the Dorsey Street parking lot and extend the path through an alleyway between the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and the empty storefront next door.

A third design was considered not feasible, but people will still be able to view it at the meeting. It would’ve seen the River Walk extend along the river at the Dorsey Street bridge and continue to the Broadway Bridge. To do that, though, would require cutting through private property and sharing space with the former Dew Drop Inn at 27 Broadway. Also, B&L said a walkway in this area would most likely be affected by floods. At the Oct. 15 village board meeting, many village trustees and Mayor Clyde Rabideau expressed they would’ve preferred a plan like this if possible.

The money to complete this section of the River Walk comes from a state Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant, which expires in March 2020, so a decision on the design has to be made relatively soon.

In early September, Bruce Darring and Katie Stiles blocked off the section of the River Walk that runs through their property at 3 Broadway. In a Guest Commentary published in the Enterprise Tuesday, Stiles said the 20-year-old River Walk has not fulfilled its original intention of increasing visitor and local pedestrian traffic to downtown businesses. She suggested having it go around the front of her building and out the alleyway between Blue Line Sports and the Cape Air office, which would leave pedestrians on Broadway facing the Berkeley Green.

“Aside from events held here throughout the year, visitors and locals have multiple options,” she said. “They can venture down Main Street and visit the storefronts and venues. They can go straight and visit the Hotel Saranac, the Village Mercantile, Bear Essentials, the library and history museum. OR, they can walk down Broadway, where, in a block, they will pass along 14 storefronts and businesses to either pick up the River Walk trail or turn down Woodruff Street to visit artist galleries, a floral shop and a hair salon, and where they will find themselves at Nori’s Market and the future location of Pendragon Theatre.”

The Dorsey Street parking lot section of the Saranac Lake River Walk is seen Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

Though the input meeting just concerns the Dorsey Street and Broadway sections of the route, other projects are still to come.

One would extend the end of the River Walk at the Tops supermarket parking lot on Church Street to Woodruff Street. This would be paid for in part by the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant money the village received last year.

Also, a currently closed part of the walk from the state Route 3 overpass to behind Rice Furniture needs to be repaired because of severe rusting and section loss of metal fasteners and joist hangers, according to North Woods Engineering Principal Engineer Joseph Garso. In a recent interview, Rabideau said the closed section will likely remain that way through the winter.

The part of the Saranac Lake River Walk that runs through private property at 3 Broadway is seen Tuesday. Owners Bruce Darring and Katie Stiles blocked it off in September, saying it hasn’t been fulfilling the intention of bringing pedestrians to downtown businesses. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

One idea for the new Saranac Lake River Walk project would have pedestrians walk through the Dorsey Street parking lot and up through the alleyway between the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and empty storefront on Broadway before continuing to the Broadway Bridge section. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

One idea for the Saranac Lake River Walk project would have pedestrians walk across the Dorsey Street bridge, down Dorsey Street and back on to the walk at the Broadway Bridge. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

The Saranac River is seen from the parking lot at the St. Regis Canoe Outfitters boat launch Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

The Saranac Lake River Walk is seen Tuesday, Oct. 22 from the Broadway Bridge. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

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