Marina plan floated

SARANAC LAKE – Plans to replace, rehabilitate and expand Crescent Bay Marina on Lower Saranac Lake will be pitched tonight to the town of Harrietstown Planning Board.

LS Marina LLC, represented by Mike Damp of Lake Placid, and Kevin Franke of the Saratoga Springs-based consulting firm The LA Group are expected to outline the project during a pre-application and sketch plan conference. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. in the lower level board room of the Harrietstown Town Hall.

The project involves two properties: the current 4.85-acre marina site off state Route 3, also known as Duso’s, and a roughly 5-acre annex site at the end of Lake Street. As of late September, the parcels were under contract to be sold to Wilmington, Del.-based CB Marina LLC for just over $2 million. They are currently owned by Florida-based Crescent Bay Holdings LLC, which took title to them in January from Crescent Bay Inc.

A description of LS Marina’s proposal, which is on file in the town’s Building and Planning Department, says the goal is to create a “state-of-the-art, grade A marina built for an eco-tourism base at both marina sites to be enjoyed by locals, tourists and vacation homeowners.” The company says it plans to remove and replace the “crumbling, decaying 90-year-old structures currently on site.”

The plan calls for installation of a steel-framed floating dock system, covered with a metal canopy and anchored to the lake bottom by 6-inch-diameter metal pipes. It’s described as a “modern, minimal-impact floating system” that will protect boats from the elements and adapt to rising and falling lake levels. A total of 175 boat slips are planned at the existing marina site, which currently has 70 slips and 12 moorings, and another 110 would be located at the annex site, where there are now roughly 80 slips.

Each roof would have solar panels that would be used to power the marina, reduce its carbon footprint and sell excess power back to the grid, the documents state. All the new structures would be constructed using green-building techniques with the goal of making the project LEED certified.

LS Marina says it plans to offer “super quiet electric Eco-boat tours of the Saranac chain of lakes, with a resident scientist, historian educating the public on native plant life, invasive species, birds and wildlife, geological glacial lake formations, Native American history in the area etc.”

The marina would provide canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and sail boats, and it would organize a race series in the summer, according to the documents submitted to the town. The marina would rent small, four-stroke engine fishing boats and offer customers accessories for fishing, camping and other recreation on the lakes. Lower and Middle Saranac lakes are home to the 87-site Saranac Lake Islands Public Campground, run by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The marina would also have a boat wash station to remove invasive species from any boat launching on or being taken out of the lake.

“Our marina will have zero tolerance for invasive species,” the documents state. “We look forward to working with the Adirondack Invasive species initiative and will offer a base camp for their operation.”

The plan also calls for renovation of the restaurant and store on the marina property. The company says the entire operation could employ 25 to 30 people; the marina currently has one full-time employee and three seasonal workers.

“LS Marina will have a positive economic impact for the surrounding region and offer a top notch amenity for the town of Harrietstown and village of Saranac Lake,” the proposal states.

The project has already sparked several letters and emails to the town from concerned neighbors and seasonal residents of Lower Saranac Lake. In a Monday email, Judith Landes, who lives in Virginia and owns a summer home on Trillium Way, urged the planning board to take a close look at the proposal.

“There are so many issues that need to be addressed that I will not list them at this time,” she wrote. “Any actions that will disrupt the health of the lake, not to mention its beauty, will be sad for the town. Please consider this project very carefully, which as currently proposed will create a myriad of problems, not only for shore owners but for the town.”

Joan Healey, who owns an adjacent property, said in a Nov. 29 letter that she was pleased to see interest in refurbishing the marina. But she said the building of new docks could impact the “riparian right” she has to the lake from an adjacent property.

Lake Street residents Kathleen and Ian Stewart, in a Nov. 27 letter, said they were concerned about the addition of so many new boat slips and how it could “affect the ecology, landscape and overall peacefulness of the lake.” The Stewarts also cited concerns about increased vehicle traffic on Lake Street and more boat traffic on the lake.

Following tonight’s sketch plan conference, the company would have to file for full site plan approval with the planning board and may have to apply to the town’s zoning board of appeals, Harrietstown Code Enforcement Officer Ed Randig wrote in a Nov. 18 letter to LS Marina and The LA Group. He said the project may also require approvals from the state Adirondack Park Agency, DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Preliminary plans for a new dock system at the marina were submitted to the APA this fall. The agency, at the time, said the covered floating dock system would, under its definitions, be a shoreline structure and would be too large to be built without a variance.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or