Skatepark plan hinges on contract

SARANAC LAKE – The long, wild ride that’s been the effort to build a new skateboard park in the village isn’t over yet.

The project that’s been more than 15 years in the making now hinges on a contract between the village and the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee was tabled at the village board’s Monday night meeting.

Village trustees said they want several questions answered before voting on the agreement. The board has scheduled a work session on the contract at 5 p.m. Monday in the village offices on the second floor of the Harrietstown Town Hall.

The contract spells out how the skatepark, which will be located in the village parking lot behind Community Bank at 46 Broadway, will be built, paid for, operated and maintained. It says the committee will design and oversee construction of the skatepark at its own cost, in consultation with the village. The village, based on a 3-2 vote at its April 28 meeting, will provide $100,000 worth of labor, materials and equipment to help with site preparation for the facility. That work would begin in late June, according to a timetable that’s included in the contract.

The committee would seek bids from contractors for construction of the 5,000-square-foot concrete skatepark. Once it’s complete, the village would accept the facility as a donation and take over operation and maintenance of it, with financial assistance for maintenance costs provided by the committee.

The contract wasn’t on the originally published agenda Monday, but the board agreed to consider it at the end of the meeting.

Trustee Allie Pelletieri said the Saranac Lake Local Development Corporation was originally going to serve as the “middleman” between the village and the skatepark group because the committee didn’t have nonprofit tax-free status. However, the committee recently became a certified nonprofit organization, so the LDC is no longer a part of the agreement, Pelletieri said.

Trustee Barbara Rice said she hadn’t had enough time to review the contract. Her other concern, she said, is about what will happen to the parking lot after the skatepark is complete.

“One of the reasons I agreed to that location was that we were going to make improvements to that parking lot and leave it in better condition than we found it,” Rice said. “That is something we made commitments to and we talked to businesses about. It seems to me that has gotten a little bit lost in this project. I do have a few more questions before I can vote on this agreement.”

Trustee Paul Van Cott, a lawyer who drafted the contract, said he supports the skatepark and thinks the contract is “legally sufficient to protect the village’s interests while at the same time letting the skatepark committee do its thing.” However, Van Cott repeated an issue he raised at the board’s last meeting about contributing village labor and materials to the project.

“My concern is the time this will take away from other projects that the (Department of Public Works) could be working on,” he said.

Earlier in the meeting, skatepark committee member Rich Shapiro acknowledged the concerns Van Cott and others have raised about the the village’s contribution to the project. He noted that $58,000 of the $100,000 is the use of village equipment, “which is not an ‘out of pocket’ expense.

“Thirty-one thousand dollars is labor,” Shapiro said, reading from a prepared statement. “Admittedly, this is a real expense, but one that is being paid whether they work on the skatepark or somewhere else. The bulk of the remaining village contribution is in the form of gravel from the sand pit.”

Shapiro said he agrees that the portion of the parking lot that will remain a parking lot will need to be repaved and re-striped, but he said funding for upgrades to it “should be separate from following through with the board’s promise to do the site work for the skatepark.

“We need to sign the agreement … now so we can go to contract and meet the timeline of building the skatepark this year,” Shapiro said. “Based on the board’s vote of April 28, we have told potential donors that the board is behind this project and that we will be breaking ground by the end of June and will have a grand opening in October. If you back away from your commitment it will hurt us directly, and also indirectly by destroying our credibility.”

The committee has already spent $15,000 on surveys and designs for the current skatepark site. It was picked after several other possible locations around the community were ruled out, including two that prior village boards had committed to: the current skatepark site behind the village police station and the village park at the corner of Ampersand Avenue and Broadway. The former was crossed off the list because the space is needed for parking for Myriad RBM, a biotechnology company that’s currently leasing the former village offices. The Ampersand-Broadway park was ruled out largely because of concerns raised by nearby residents.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.