SARANAC LAKE - The gate to the American Management Association campus at the end of Park Avenue will be reopened within the next one to two weeks, but only for AMA employees.
Brett Clark, AMA's facilities manager, said the gate, which has been closed for the past six years, will be opened in the morning and the afternoon each weekday to give the company's workers another way to access the property. The main entrance to the AMA campus is located off of Trudeau Road.
"We haven't officially opened it, and it's only going to be open one way for our staff to get on the property in the morning and one way to leave the property in the afternoon," Clark said Tuesday. "There's going to be 'Do Not Enter' signs for other people not to be traveling through there. There will be no public access until the annexation goes through."
As part of a controversial agreement to annex AMA's 63 acres into the village, the village board agreed last year to take over AMA Way, the road that crosses the company's property from the end of Park Avenue and connects with Trudeau Road, make it a public road and reopen the gate to everyone. The agreement states that AMA won't transfer title to the road until the village annexes the property, which hasn't happened yet.
The prospect of the gate being opened has sparked concern from a group of upper Park Avenue residents. In August of last year, they told the village board that reopening the gate will lead to fast traffic on Park Avenue and jeopardize the safety of residents of the neighborhood.
"There are children, dogs and people walking on the street," Betsy Minehan told the board last year. "It's a residential neighborhood, and we're very concerned about what would happen if again the street was open to through traffic."
Anticipating some of those concerns, the village police department set up its speed trailer, which displays the speed limit of a passing car, on the side of Park Avenue Tuesday morning after learning that AMA planned to reopen the gate for access by its workers. The speed limit on Park Avenue is 30 mph.
"That area, with the gate being opened, we thought we'd put it there for the first few days, and we'll monitor the area," said village police Chief Bruce Nason.
Clark said AMA decided to reopen the gate now because of concerns about the safety of the intersection of state Route 3 and Trudeau Road, which many of the company's employees use to get to and from work.
"In the wintertime, staff complained about getting out onto Route 3 off of Trudeau Road, and this is a way of us kind of easing into that," he said. "That intersection is very dangerous. That road is very dangerous. Last year, it's lucky people didn't get killed on that."
Contractors hired by the village recently completed paving Park Avenue and AMA Way, where a new water main and lateral connections were installed earlier this year as part of the village's $12.5 million water project. The annexation deal required the village to upgrade some of AMA's infrastructure in exchange for no-cost easements to install the water main and an access road across the AMA property to a new water storage tank on the village's Mount Pisgah Ski Center property.
As part of the deal, AMA will petition the village and the town of St. Armand to annex its property into the village. Even though the agreement was approved last year, that hasn't happened yet.
AMA officials said in March that they were still moving forward with the annexation and planned to present petitions to the two boards, but they were waiting to complete a plan for the potential development of unused portions of the property first.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau said last month that AMA Vice President Martin Delahay told him in an email that the company is getting ready to present the petition in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the village is planning to salute AMA, which at 140 workers is one of the area's biggest employers, with a civic testimonial dinner this fall.