Downtown skateboard park site gets complicated

SARANAC LAKE – The prospect of putting a long-awaited village skateboard park in a downtown parking lot has gotten complicated.

Since late fall, the village Board of Trustees seemed to be leaning toward putting the skatepark in a portion of the village parking lot between Community Bank and Twin D Automotive. An initial design called for a 7,170-square-foot skatepark on the site, which would have led to the loss of at least a half-dozen parking spaces.

After looking into it further, however, the village discovered building constraints on the site that would limit the size of the skateboard park to 5,219 square feet, which the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee says would be too small.

“There are a lot of new constraints that we hadn’t taken into account before,” village Trustee Barbara Rice said after Monday night’s village board meeting. “There’s the utility poles; you have to be set back from the overhead there. There’s underground utilities it would have to be set back from. The bottom line is it has changed the shape and size of that, so we have to come back to the table, talk about it and see if there’s some way we can make it work.”

Rice said the downtown site is still on the table.

“I think it’s still one of the top options,” she said. “We just have to make sure it will work from everybody’s perspective.”

The skateboard park was on the board’s Monday night agenda under old business, and a design for the 5,219-square-foot park was included in the board’s meeting packet, but the board postponed the discussion in light of new information.

“The reason it’s not going to happen is we were just provided with some of the new schematics, and none of us had time to really look at it,” Rice said. “It would have been difficult to discuss, at least intelligently. The SkatePark Committee and (Trustee) Allie (Pelletieri) and I, who are the trustees that have been involved in it, will be getting together on Friday to kind of go over things and discuss the site.”

During the meeting’s public comment period, SkatePark Committee members Lindy Ellis said the 5,219-square-foot park doesn’t “achieve the goal of creating a skatepark for all skill levels, from beginners to more advanced.”

“Trustee Pelletieri reminded me that when we were beginning with the skatepark, we were talking 8,000 square feet, then 7,000, and we’ve been talking a minimum of 6,000 square feet, so that’s why I think this has gotten to be a too-small footprint,” Ellis said.

Ellis also raised concerns about allowing through traffic next to the downtown skateboard park site, calling it unsafe for kids and drivers.

In a letter to the board, Ellis asked for a way to expand the proposed site to 6,000 square feet, with a grassy berm on the side of the park and no through traffic. If that isn’t possible, she asked the board to revisit the idea of putting a 6,000-square-foot skatepark in the village park at the corner of Broadway and Ampersand Avenue – a site that’s been considered on and off for at least the last eight years.

The cost of putting a skatepark in either the Broadway-Ampersand Park site or the parking lot behind Community Bank has been estimated at $111,000. The group has raised about $71,000 so far.

Several years ago, the board had committed to allowing the skatepark to be built in a parking lot behind the village police station and former village offices at 3 Main St. That was scrapped last fall when village officials said the biotech company leasing the former village offices plans to expand and would need the additional space for more parking.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or