Keep Saranac Lake blooming
One hundred and ten years ago a group of foresighted women came together in a small village to form an association dedicated to improving the aesthetics of their town. Early on they realized that an important component of that mission entailed the outright purchase of land so that it could be preserved for the future. So, this association of active women raised money and over the years they purchased land in focal locations around their village. They cleaned up the acquired parcels and created small parks that they maintained for public use and enjoyment. What was the name of that industrious, civic-minded organization? It was the Village Improvement Society (VIS) of Saranac Lake. And the organization is still going strong today.
Have you ever spent some time in one of those VIS parks? Maybe you’ve sat on a bench in little Vest Pocket Park next to the library with the beautiful potted flowers. Or perhaps you have parked your car and launched a canoe onto the Saranac River from Denny Park. Or maybe you wandered through one of the other four parks currently owned and maintained by the Village Improvement Society. But like most other folks, you probably thought that you were in a park owned and maintained by the Village of Saranac Lake. So that is one of the reasons for this article. A little history and information for a good cause.
The Village Improvement Society of Saranac Lake is a registered non-profit organization that has bylaws and a voting board of directors (currently nine). The word ‘Society’ in the name might lead one to believe that folks could become official members of the society but that is not the case. The society is essentially made up of volunteers who serve as board members, park managers, and project helpers. And, yes, men are now welcome to participate in VIS activities and projects.
The organization has a mission statement that indicates its general intent to beautify and improve the Village of Saranac Lake via the planting and cultivation of trees, shrubs, and flowers while supporting sound community development in and adjacent to the Village.
The primary way that the VIS accomplishes this mission is by maintaining its six parks: Beaver Park, Denny, Dorsey, Sunset, Triangle, and Vest Pocket. But the organization also plants flowers and tends parcels of Village property including the Herb Garden, Welcome Garden, and Star Garden. We also have volunteers plant flowers at the four village entrance signs. In addition, VIS purchases the hanging flower baskets and helps prepare the large flower planters set out every summer on downtown streets.
All of the funding that supports the VIS parks and projects comes from donations mostly from the efforts of an annual fund-raising campaign. And that is part of the reason for writing this article. VIS will not be sending out its usual fund-raising letter this year. The board just did not feel that it was appropriate in these very difficult times. But if you have given to VIS before and are in a position to make some sort of donation this year, the society will be glad to receive your support. Donations can be sent to the Village Improvement Society of Saranac Lake, PO Box 702, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.
Our revamped website is up and running again at www.saranaclakevis.org and you can also keep in touch with us via our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VillageImprovementSociety. And if you are interested, we are always looking for more volunteers to help with our many projects.
We hope that you can get out to visit one of our parks or flower gardens. Enjoy the rest of the summer and stay safe!
Randall Swanson, VIS President
On Behalf of the VIS Board