Rowing for village revitalization funds

SARANAC LAKE – A village trustee is rowing a guideboat in the 90-Miler to raise funds for revitalization projects.

Paul Van Cott, who’s also chairman of the Saranac Lake Local Development Corporation, said $7,000 has been raised from 300 donors to the LDC’s revitalization fund since an appeal letter was sent out in July.

“It’s a great start, but we need to build more awareness and support for revitalization in Saranac Lake,” Van Cott said in a press release. “We seek the broader involvement of the Saranac Lake community, especially those we sent appeal letters to. We need people’s ideas, voices and energy and their participation, whether through a donation or other commitments of support.”

That’s why Van Cott said he’s taking to the water and rowing in the Adirondack Canoe Classic from Old Forge to Saranac Lake Sept. 5-7.

“The SLLDC is accepting pledges of donations to the Saranac Lake revitalization fund if I complete the race, which is not a guaranteed outcome,” said Van Cott, 55. “I have rowed every day of June and July on Rainbow Lake, and have been rowing almost every day of August on Lower Saranac Lake, so I am in pretty decent shape, but I have not done any carries and that will be a challenge since the guideboat I row is 70 pounds. Also, it is my mother-in-law’s boat, so if I drop it I will be in big trouble.”

The SLLDC’s revitalization program is focused on restoring older commercial buildings in the village and building a stronger public and commercial connection to the Saranac River that runs through the heart of the village.

There are 18 guideboats participating in this year’s race.

Van Cott also encouraged local businesses to place a “Welcome paddlers” sign in their windows.

“We will be distributing them to businesses in the village and encouraging them to make the racers welcome,” he said.

Van Cott’s pit crew is comprised of hiw wife Leslie Dame and their daughter Sasha Van Cott. Daily progress updates will be available at

Pledges of support for the SLLDC’s revitalization fund can be made by contacting the SLLDC at or 518-637-3612.