Saranac Lake advances beach relocation study

SARANAC LAKE – The village has agreed to commission a study on returning the village beach to Lake Flower.

Trustees voted 3-1 Monday night to approve a resolution that directs village Manager John Sweeney to issue a request for proposals, or RFP, “regarding the feasibility of developing a public beach on Lake Flower, including a cost-benefit analysis.” Trustee Tom Catillaz, who later said he doesn’t think the idea has merit, cast the lone dissenting vote.

The village board set aside $5,000 in reserves earlier this year to fund the study. A Lake Flower Beach Return group has also been raising money to pay for it. The resolution says that when the group has reached the $5,000 mark, the village will move forward with seeking proposals for the study.

“They are getting close,” said Trustee Paul Van Cott. “They’re well over $4,000. They’re well on their way.”

“So by the time they get to $5,000, we would have an RFP in hand?” asked Mayor Clyde Rabideau.

“That’s the goal, so we can keep things moving along,” Van Cott said.

Over the past year, a committee of volunteers spearheaded a campaign to bring the village beach back to Lake Flower, where it was located until the 1970s, when it was closed as part of the state’s widening of River Street to a four-lane highway. A new village beach was created at Lake Colby, where it is today.

The committee has been working with Van Cott, who’s been talking with representatives of the various state agencies that would have to approve the proposal, including the departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. Van Cott has said the idea has a lot of support but would have to clear both regulatory and fundraising hurdles to become reality.

The study, according to the resolution, “will provide the facts” about the feasibility of developing a beach again on Lake Flower.

Trustee Barbara Rice asked if it will look at potential economic impacts. Van Cott said it would.

“Ultimately we’ve got to look at it as a village and say, ‘This makes sense to us, both in terms of the people who live here but also in terms of the economics of it,'” he said.

Catillaz didn’t comment during the discussion at the board table. Asked after the meeting why he voted against the study, he said he has concerns about bringing the beach back to Lake Flower.

“I’m not in favor of it being there,” Catillaz told the Enterprise. “There’s way too much traffic there. It’d be a great thing. It would be a great tourist attraction. But you’d need a very large parking lot, and I have no idea where that’s going to go. You’re going to have to have a way for kids to cross the street, including little kids who don’t know how to do it. It could be very dangerous. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Catillaz also said he didn’t think kids go to the beach like they used to.

The resolution says that once the study is done, the village board will seek public input prior to any decision on whether to further pursue the return of the beach to Lake Flower.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or