Whitewater park could help Saranac Lake

To the editor:

Thankfully, it’s not up to me to decide which projects should receive Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding. Each has merit and showcases exactly why Saranac Lake received the funding pledge in the first place. There are, however, a number of projects that will directly enhance the quality of life for visitors, residents and folks (particularly, young people) seeking to live in a place which provides a true sense of community. 

The relocation of Pendragon Theatre company, creation of the Play ADK children’s museum, the establishment of The Carry entrepreneurial business center and improvements to our parks and public spaces are no-brainers in my book. However, I feel there are two proposed projects that should be viewed as one: River Walk completion and the development of a whitewater park on the Saranac River. 

Jim Sausville, a pioneer of the River Walk project and member of the committee earning Saranac Lake the All-America City honor, helped me hone my paddling skills on this section of river. As I improved, I enhanced those skills downstream at Permanent Rapids and would drive to Watertown at least three times per month to play on a standing feature similar to the one being proposed in Saranac Lake. On any given day, that same Watertown feature would be filled with people young and old enjoying the river together. Locals and visitors picnicked on the banks and watched. Watertown built customized staircases and bridges just to make it easier for everyone to access this one spot on the river. The feature would host numerous international kayaking competitions.

That one river feature absolutely enhanced quality of life in Watertown, drove economic impact and helped countless young people learn river safety while falling in love with being active outdoors. River walks exist all across the world. Saranac Lake’s deserves to be Decidedly Different. 

Doug Haney

Saranac Lake