Size is the issue with marina

To the editor:

Kudos to Corey Laxson and Charlie Wilson for their letters, dated April 19 and 12, respectively. The more input on this issue, the better.

In the spirit of full disclosure, my wife and I have owned a home on Lower Saranac next to the marina annex in Ampersand Bay for the last 11 years. That may make me a shore owner with a “disturbing attitude” who is creating “misleading information” to “slow down” the access to the lake. In addition, I am not a member of the “scientific community” which further reduces my credibility. Come to think of it, as I get older, I sometimes have trouble remembering in which community I do reside.

First, I would respectfully suggest that it is time to put an end to this convenient but totally inaccurate straw-man argument that attempts to pit lake property owners against those who are not. This stifles discussion and shifts the focus away from the facts and real issues. While I don’t speak for any group of shore owners, I can confidently say that I am not aware of anyone who is opposed to having a marina with public access on the lake. Size is their issue and was also a concern of Corey Laxson and Charlie Wilson.

If you are having trouble visualizing what 292 covered and eight uncovered boat slips look like on Lower Saranac, go to www.friendsoflowerlake.com. This size has prompted numerous concerns ranging from overcrowding to impact on the environment, recreational experience, aesthetics of the area and restrictive deed covenants. My guess is that, if the proposal had been to restore and update the marina facilities at its current size, there would be few, if any, questions.

The question therefore becomes: How many boats can Lower Saranac support, and does this proposal exceed that number? Why is it important? If this tipping point is exceeded, overcrowding exists, recreational use drops, businesses suffer, and aesthetics and the environment are degraded beyond acceptable limits. For more background on this, search “lake carrying capacity” and “limits of acceptable change” on the Internet. Charlie Wilson’s analysis was not designed to calculate this number but to show how this proposed marina size compared to marina size in surrounding lakes. This is a reasonable question. Corey Laxson felt that his use of only the lake surface for Lower Saranac was misleading and that the surface area of the entire chain of lakes should be used. You’ll have to decide that issue based on your own observations. My personal experience, from many hours on Lower Saranac, is that people with watercraft docked on Lower Saranac tend to stay there for most of their activities. Therefore, the challenge is not how to prevent lake access but to have a process that develops an independent, third-party boat-density analysis and that BALANCES the recreational experience we all want with the need to protect the environment, existing conditions such as aesthetics, individual property rights and the investor’s right to make a profit.

Bob Hammond

Saranac Lake