With the recent proposals and comment regarding the River Walk, Bruce and I would like to address our position.
As far as I can tell, Bruce and I are the only two residents of the village of Saranac Lake who are being asked to contribute a portion of their private residence to the River Walk.
Aside from a valid legal position that we have, what was and what is currently being proposed does not achieve a main objective of the River Walk, which has been and still should be to “increase visitor and local pedestrian traffic to the downtown businesses.”
As pointed out, the River Walk is approximately 1.5 miles in length; our portion was a very small percentage of that at a mere 150 feet. It was a path to nowhere, a dead end and offered no benefit to commerce. From the proposal presented by the firm Barton & Loguidice, Alternative 1, which has sat in limbo for over 20 years, was determined to be no longer an option for valid reasons. Their Alternative 2 only brings walkers past one local business. Alternative 3 is potentially not an option at all, again asking private owners to make compromises to their properties, and is not aesthetically pleasing.
Comparing our River Walk to the one in San Antonio is not a reasonable comparison to be making. The very nature and layout of the Saranac River to our downtown are nowhere even close to that of San Antonio. Our downtown is not surrounding the banks of the Saranac River. When you look at photos of the River Walk in San Antonio, you can see how distinctly different these two locations are.
With the options presented, we add the following.
From a personal standpoint, we would be in support of their Alternative 2, completely bypassing our property. After all, with some 20 years under our belts, we have an entirely different perspective of the River Walk, with direct involvement with our village and the people it has attracted. Quite frankly, it is not all that has been promised; nor does it enhance our downtown and help local businesses prosper.
However, aside from personal feelings, what we have offered to the village as another alternative, and what we believe to be the best solution, is to put the numerous downtown businesses on the map and to embrace finally their original concept — to increase visitor and local pedestrian traffic to downtown businesses.
A little surprised to see from recent newspaper articles and village board meetings that our proposal has not been offered for comment and consideration. Our property, known as 3 Broadway, encompasses all of the land from the Saranac River to the rear walls of the Main Street buildings that border us. It makes sense and benefit to all that the River Walk go around the front of our building and up the alley entering the downtown at the Berkley Green, a park that has been noted as being “particularly important” to our village and our downtown. Aside from events held here throughout the year, visitors and locals have multiple options. 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.
Bearing all in mind, this alternative seems to make the most sense and benefit to the community. Passing behind our building (which is our home) has been proven to be unsuccessful and clearly does not offer what our alternative has to offer. Not to mention an independent firm has determined a continuation from there impractical. Who would have known that some 20 years later, it turns out that the front of our property makes a better connection to the green space of the River Walk, but it clearly does.
Katie Stiles lives in Saranac Lake.