Saranac Lake village may allow snowmobiles on Main Street

Oct. 11 hearing set for proposal

SARANAC LAKE — The village of Saranac Lake has scheduled a public hearing on a proposal to allow snowmobiles to be ridden on a segment of Main Street. The board will hear public comments on the proposal at its Oct. 11 meeting.

Snowmobiles are allowed to be ridden on most village streets, with exceptions for certain streets in the downtown area. This amendment to the village code would allow snowmobiles onto a 150-foot stretch from the intersection of Church and Main streets to the Hotel Saranac’s parking lot, which is currently off-limits to the vehicles.

This change was requested by Hotel Saranac General Manager Jacob Kipping at a board meeting. The hotel management has offered its upper parking lot for use by snowmobilers as it expects many more to be coming to town as the state’s rail-trail project nears completion next year.

Trustee Matt Scollin suspects there will be more of these requests as the rail-trail comes online, and said the village should possibly renew its maps of where snowmobiles are and aren’t allowed on village streets in light of the trail.

“Getting ahead of this, being prepared and having our snowmobile laws in place before the rail-trail absolutely blows up, I think, would be in our best interests,” Mayor Jimmy Williams said.

Trustee Rich Shapiro said the village will need clear signs for snowmobilers to follow. These laws can’t be enforced without signs, he said.

Village Manager Erik Stender said having snowmobiles on the roads makes his job “extremely difficult” with road maintenance and enforcement. The studs some tracks have tear up asphalt, he said.

“We definitely have to outlaw studded tracks on the pavement,” Williams said.

And it’s hard to have a patrol car pull over a snowmobile, Stender said.

“You can’t catch them,” Trustee Tom Catillaz said.

Snowmobiles are not allowed to be ridden on any village streets between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and midnight and 7 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Snowmobile riders are required to obey all traffic laws and signs. Violations bring fines costing between $5 and $100.

Snowmobiles are banned from sidewalks, but Stender said he’s got a problem with people riding on sidewalks.

Catillaz said he doesn’t like that snowmobiles can ride on most roads. He suggested turning the former train depot into a snowmobile parking lot.

The public hearing on the amendment to village code will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the upstairs village office board room in the Harrietstown Town Hall.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story, and its headline, incorrectly said that the proposal would allow snowmobiles on a segment of Church Street; it would allow snowmobiles on a section of Main Street starting at the intersection with Church Street. The Enterprise regrets the error.


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