Beach relocation study in the works

SARANAC LAKE – A draft design for a new village beach on Lake Flower is expected to be released to the public soon.

Village Trustee Paul Van Cott said Monday that he and Community Development Director Jeremy Evans met on the site July 16 with representatives of the LA Group. The village hired the Saratoga Springs-based company last year to conduct a feasibility study for returning the beach to Lake Flower.

“We walked the shoreline and answered some of their questions,” Van Cott said. “They’re going to be coming back in the next couple of weeks with some preliminary designs for folks to start to look at.”

Van Cott also said the consultants took a water quality sample while they were in town. He said he recently got the results.

“The water quality, at least for coliform (bacteria), is excellent and meets the Department of Health standards for a beach, so that is a very positive development,” Van Cott said.

The village beach was located in Prescott Park at Lake Flower, roughly across from the intersection of Church and River streets, until the1970s when it was closed as part of the state’s widening of River Street to a four-lane highway. A new village beach was ultimately created at Lake Colby, where it is today.

Since it was closed, many local residents have lamented the loss of the Lake Flower beach because it was a popular recreational area and social hub for the community, and an attraction to visitors passing through. Some also say the Lake Colby beach is located too far away from the center of town, which makes it harder for many kids to get there to swim.

Others have said the Lake Flower beach, in its heyday, was too small and crowded, and too close to the road. The lack of public parking along Lake Flower, and the fact that it’s much busier with boats and personal watercraft than Lake Colby are also issues that have come up in the past, and will likely be raised again if the village considers moving the beach back.

There have been several efforts to return the beach to Lake Flower. The most recent started in the summer of 2012 when village resident Shawn Boyer launched a “Lake Flower Beach Return” Facebook page, and it quickly gained more than 3,000 followers. The group subsequently raised $5,000 to help pay for the study, and the village committed another $5,000.

“They’re going to give us some preliminary designs to look at, and based on that they’ll come up with costs of what it would take to construct this beach,” Van Cott said of the LA Group’s work. “For example, we’ve talked with the Department of Environmental Conservation about the possibility of having a bathroom facility that’s potentially on the state land near the boat launch but would also serve the beach. That’s one thing. Then we’ve talked about, ‘Where would the beach itself go? How big a beach would we need? Where would parking be?'”

The village would also need to get permits for the new beach, from both the Health Department and DEC, Van Cott said.

Once the draft study has been submitted, Van Cott said it will be circulated publicly “to see how people feel about having a beach down here on Lake Flower, which would necessarily entail in all likelihood getting rid of the beach on Lake Colby.”