Residents speak out against motorboats on Mirror Lake
LAKE PLACID – Debate continued on Monday during a village board meeting about a recent waterskiing event and the impact future events like it will have on Mirror Lake.
About nine villagers attended the meeting. Many of them voiced their disapproval of allowing motorboats on Mirror Lake and argued that in the future a similar event should have more debate. Some said changes to the local law should be made to further ban such activities.
The 2014 Eastern Region Water Ski Championship regional qualifier was a four-day event held in July with 157 waterskiers competing. There were an estimated 250 visitors, including family members. The waterskiers were pulled by boats that reached speeds of up to 30 mph during the slalom skiing, trick and jumping competitions. Many of the waterskiers told the Enterprise that they enjoyed the competition in Lake Placid because it was close to local amenities and businesses. Normally, waterski events are held on private lakes in secluded areas.
Marc Galvin, co-owner of the Bookstore Plus, said he did not speak to one shore owner who had a “totally positive” experience with the waterski competition.
“I’m kind of acting as a conduit for several folks for the overall long term idea for Mirror Lake,” Galvin said. “Obviously, the waterski competition was the catalyst to get us talking about this, but I want to state that I’m not anti-waterski. I’ve been waterskiing since I was six.”
Galvin said the goal should be to maintain Mirror Lake as a motor-free lake. He said Mirror Lake is one of a minority number of lakes in the Adirondack Park that are motor-free and it’s ideal for kayakers, canoers, paddleboarders and swimmers. He noted that there are several other lakes, like Lake Flower in Saranac Lake, where motorized boats are permitted.
“What we have here in the village is a very accessible motor-free lake,” he said. “It’s just a really nice environment for those type of communities.”
Galvin said in the future he hopes there are public hearings prior to a decision made by the board to have motorized boating events on Mirror Lake.
“You guys should not have to make that decision on your own; it should be something that the village should decide that it wants or doesn’t want,” he said. “If this law does need to be strengthened, we hope the board will vote to strengthen the law to maintain this asset that is Mirror Lake.”
Lake Placid’s local law bans motorized boats on the lake; however, it allows exceptions for “special events” like the waterski competition. The village board worked out the details of the waterski competition with the organizer for a period of about five months. The board made several specific requirements for the event like wake attenuation barriers, which were placed on the lake to absorb wakes. Some people expressed their concerns during village board meetings at that time.
John Wilkins, a local attorney and the event organizer, was not in attendance at the meeting Monday night.
Bill Billerman, chairman of the Mirror Lake Watershed Association, was in attendance. He said the ambiance of the lake is of the “utmost importance” and keeping it a motor-free experience sells Mirror Lake to visitors.
Larry Master said he wrote the village board about his concerns and concurred with Galvin’s comments.
Village Trustee Jason Leon said he was on the lake one afternoon during the waterski competition, and his firsthand experience was that it “changed the dynamic” of the lake.
“There was a noticeable difference,” Leon said.
Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall cleared up some questions about the local law banning motorized boats on Mirror Lake. He said the current local law, titled “Mirror Lake Navigation” was last updated in 1985. He said it specifically bans snowmobiles on the lake.
“At the same time, it did not change the legislation for boating on Mirror Lake,” Randall said. “It also sets all of the standards which this board must consider in offering a permit or approving a permit for any kind of use on the lake, and that would include Ironman, canoe or kayak, or others that are more passive.”
Randall said it’s premature to discuss the waterski event in depth because the event’s organizer was not in attendance at the meeting. However, he plans for Wilkins to give a “wrap-up report” of the event and for the board to give Wilkins feedback, including the villagers comments.
USA Water Ski awarded the regional qualifier to Mirror Lake for a two-year period. Wilkins plans to bring it back again next year if he gets the board’s approval. The village approved the event for a single use this summer.
“We could of done two (years) but I think we all wanted to see if this event was done in a manner that was compatible, and that compatibility I think is what we still need to assess,” Randall said.
Randall suggested, in moving forward with future discussions, a larger group of village residents should voice their opinion before the board makes any actions. Groups he mentioned included the Mirror Lake Watershed Association, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission and local businesses.