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Saving Camp Topridge (The Enterprise, October 1983)

The original boathouse at Camp Topridge, designed by Benjamin A. Muncil, is seen in 2007. (Provided photo — Marc Wanner, Historic Saranac Lake)

We covered the news of the big earthquake (5.2 on the Richter scale) in the Adirondack region in this space last week. But there was plenty of other local news.

Here are excerpts from a page 1 story by Carol Bruce about the famous camp originally owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post … who, at that time, owned Mar-A-Lago in Florida, now owned by a famous golfer.

“‘Don’t take away Topridge as a tourist attraction,’ the Chamber of Commerce has written in a letter to New York State Governor Mario Cuomo. Reinforcing that plea, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Dyer said that 4,000 people took the week-end tours this summer.

“Cuomo recently said he would rather have the site near St. Regis Lake as a camp for youngsters rather than the tourist/seminar center it is today.”

(I was manager of the Lake Placid Club at that time, and a representative of Gov. Cuomo contacted me to go to Topridge when that person studied the youth camp idea.)

Ad from the Enterprise in October 1983

“The local Chamber has an agreement with the state’s Office of General Services (OGS) to run weekend tours at the 68-building camp. The Chamber and OGS share the profits 50-50, but all of the Chamber’s share of the proceeds are turned over to the Women’s College Scholarship Club whose members are guides. Tickets are $3.50 for adults and $3 for senior citizens.

“So far the scholarship fund and the state have received more than $12,000 from Topridge tours.

“Cuomo has never visited the camp. Ms. Dyer in her letter asked him to do so and Neil Seymour, Franklin County Tourism Director quickly endorsed that request.”

Ohio airline considers Lake Clear

Ad from the Enterprise in October 1983

Page 2 — “An Ohio-based airline might extend its flight service to the Adirondacks.

“Liberty Airlines of Toledo, Ohio, had representatives in this area the last few days to investigate the possibility of starting a service at the Adirondack Airport in Lake Clear.

“‘It’s a possibility we might consider,’ said Joe Aron of Liberty Airlines. ‘We haven’t made any commitment. We’re anticipating doing airline service on the east coast,’ he said. ‘We came here on a fact-finding trip.’

“Aron said he met with Ned Harkness, chief executive director of the Olympic regional Development Authority, and attended Thursday’s meeting of the Saranac Lake Business Association.

Ad from the Enterprise in October 1983

“Liberty operates 40-50-seat airplanes.”

Berkeley Square Historic District

“At its September 30 meeting in Albany, the Committee on the Register of the Office of Parks and Recreation completed a study review of Saranac Lake’s Berkeley Square Historic District and said it is likely eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

“The nomination was sponsored and prepared by Historic Saranac Lake, and its executive director, Mary Hotaling (Don’t forget to buy her historic book on Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau), attended the meeting to answer questions and to support the nomination.

“Field representative John Harwood cited the curve and the change in grade of Main Street and Broadway as contributing to the ‘sense of place’ that makes downtown Saranac Lake historic.”

Rockledge annexation

Page 3 — by reporter Liza Frenette:

“Although it has been hanging on the edge of village annexation for several years, it appears as if Rockledge Park is going to slip away into its own.

“The village board decided at its last meeting that it either wants the property annexed or it wants to get back the $13, 00 it has spent to put in a sewer line on the property.

“This morning, Frank Casier, owner of the 100-homesite development, said he has offered to withdraw his application for annexation and return the money spent on the line.

“‘I couldn’t comply, nobody would even try to comply,’ Casier said of the annexation regulations.

“The local developer said there has ‘been no animosity,’ between the village and himself but the village is bound by stringent regulations.

“Casier said he was willing to proceed on the basis of his agreement with the village, but the village apparently can’t, he added.

“That agreement came in June of 1980, when Casier and the village agreed he would apply for annexation and the village would put in a sewer line.

“‘The purpose at that time was to increase the tax base in the village,’ Casier said.

“‘I want that parcel in the village,’ Mayor Tim Jock said at the last board meeting. ‘But if he can’t do what we want, I want that payment in full. Let’s bring it to a head.’

“The board said it was behind Casier’s project but there were things he had to comply with as part of the agreement.

“‘I can’t see closing the door on it,’ said Trustee Pat Howard. ‘I hate to see that die, but it looks like it’s going to.’

“Numerous annexation requirements, listed on eight single-spaced, typewritten pages, discouraged Casier, however, from pursuing the inclusion of the ‘100 distinctive home-sites’ within the village since the agreement was made.

“‘Casier said it is a complex site anyway because part of it lies in the village, part in the Town of North Elba, part in the Town of St. Armand.'”

Local golf was big news

I am running this little vignette for my friend Bob Bevilacqua, former Harrietstown supervisor, one of the stars of the Saranac Lake Golf Club in Ray Brook (which used to be a dairy farm). Bob’s nickname is now “Links.” This is a story I heard about Bob, and may not be true, but I am printing it anyhow: Early in his golfing career, he showed up at the golf course on crutches, thinking he could lower his handicap.

“The Saranac Lake Golf Club conducted its final Two Ball Foursome Tournament Oct. 1. This tournament was a ‘blind partner’ event with partners paired after teeing off. Each golfer played their own round, partners combined rounds with the best score on each hole recorded.

“The winner of this final event of the season was Sylvia Watson and Jim Miner in first place with a score of 24, Eleanor Munn and Jerry Primeau in second place with a score of 25, and Evelyn Morgan and Bob McKillip, and Eleanor McKillip and Ray LaRose tied for third place with a score of 27.

“Season winners were announced at a banquet Oct. 1. Midge Gledhill won the Class A club championship; Nels Drake was the runner-up. Mary LaRose won the Class B championship, while Jeanette Valdez took the runner-up spot. The Class C championship went to Cecile Hoffer; Mary Stunzi was runner-up.

“Jane Lawrence won the Mary Hill Tournament. Evelyn Morgan was runner-up.

“Jeanette Valdez won the first flight of the Lynn King Memorial Tournament; Nels Drake finished second, Joyce Sturgeon took the second flight title while Hilda Marks finished second.

“The ‘best ball’ tournament went to the team of Kelly Morgan, Ellen Murphy, Gloria Pecheux and Sylvia Watson.

“The men’s Class championship went to Howard Coombs. Bob Martin won the Class B championship. Warren Bixler won the Class C championship.

“Terry Varmette won the low gross competition of the Gordon Partridge Memorial Tournament; Tom Quinn won the low net contest.

“Jerry Primeau won the low gross competition of the Hike Tyrell (pro at the club) Tournament.

“The team of Ray LaRose and Roger Quinn won the Friday night men’s league, while Jane and Lyman Lawrence won the couples league.”