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Potties and parks planned

SL village board discusses DRI projects

The village of Saranac Lake plans to expand the green space at Ward Plumadore Park on the corner of Broadway and Bloomingdale Avenue in Saranac Lake into the parking lot next to Bitters and Bones, seen to the right. Construction for a deck behind Bitters and Bones can be seen to the top right. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — The village is making plans to build public restrooms beside Berkeley Green at the center of downtown and to expand Ward Plumadore Park.

These are two of 10 projects chosen to share a $10 million state grant package, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative announced for Saranac Lake in 2018.

Last week the village Board of Trustees held a meeting to discuss the ongoing details.

Berkeley bathrooms

One of the village’s DRI plans is to build public bathrooms beside the Berkeley Green park on the corner of Broadway and Main Street.

“Successful municipalities have public restrooms,” Mayor Clyde Rabideau said.

The board agreed to relocate the planned bathroom location from the back of the Broadway parking lot to the front, so the facilities will be closer to existing utilities and make snow maintenance in the lot easier. The board also agreed to make the bathroom structures permanent.

“It’s so ugly,” Trustee Melinda Little said of portable toilets.

“I agree with Melinda,” Rabideau said. “Portable looks tacky. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.”

The only thing left for the village to decide is how it will maintain the restrooms. Village Manager John Sweeney said it’ll take a lot of work to keep the facilities clean. The board will work on a management plan and return to the issue at a later date.

Board members wondered how many hours a day it would take to keep the restrooms clean.

“If you base it on Lake Placid, it depends on who’s there,” Sweeney said. “Is it the person who’s throwing chicken wings at everything? Or raw chicken? Or fecal matter?”

Sweeney said the bathrooms would likely need to be inspected every other hour when they’re busy. Rabideau suggested operating the bathrooms from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day, then on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the year. They could also be opened for winter events as needed.

This means the facilities would be inspected six times a day and would essentially need a part-time employee.

A part-time employee, with benefits, costs $60,000 a year, Sweeney said.

Trustee Rich Shapiro felt restrooms here would have less traffic than in Lake Placid.

He also asked about if there are issues with the portable toilets in Riverside Park not being inspected. Sweeney said those are the responsibility of the organization that hosts the Saranac Lake Farmers Market, and once a week a company comes in to service them. But he said he also spends his own time cleaning up toilet paper wrapped around the toilet stalls to keep them looking nice.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s new restrooms at the Lake Flower boat launch will be run by the state. Rabideau said the village could operate them only for use during Winter Carnival.

Park and parking

The board also agreed to expand the green space at Ward Plumadore Park on Broadway at Bloomingdale Avenue.

The parking spaces next to Bitters & Bones pub are part of the park and are village property, a fact that village Community Development Director Jamie Konkoski said village staff didn’t really know until they started studying it.

The plan calls for three of these five spaces to be turned into a grassy area. The parking lot is currently mostly used by employees at the bar and tenants in the two apartments above the business.

Konkowski said Bitters & Bones owners Johnny and Jimmy Williams told her this plan would make plowing, snow storage and turning vehicles around in there harder or impossible.

“The question is whether it’s even worth keeping any parking spaces or converting it all into park space,” Konkowski said. “(The Williams) said if it contributes to the park design, they’re all for it.”

She said there is a village parking lot on the other side of the park, next to the Rusty Nail.

The driveway would remain because it is on the Bitters & Bones property. Without the parking spaces, vehicles pulling in there would need to drive in and back out or back in and drive out.

“It’s not a park that is well-recognized as a park,” Little said. “Perhaps by using this space it will be a better-utilized public space.”

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