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Approve a skatepark

November 29, 2012
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

Saranac Lake has needed a skateboard park since the 1990s. We and many others have said that before, and also said that if people don't stop dithering over where it should be, it won't be anywhere. And so it is.

All these years later, while there is a bumpy patch of asphalt behind the police station where a few wooden ramps have come and gone over the years, there is still no real skatepark.

Plenty of kids still skateboard. Those who say it's a fad have been proven wrong; it's no more so than skiing or tennis, sports for which this village provides venues costing the taxpayers much more money than a skatepark would.

As with Saranac Lake's carousel and Community Store, the main reason this effort has dragged on so long is continuing indecision over a site.

There are good reasons for that; legitimate problems exist for any site that has been proposed. There is no perfect place.

After years of debate, the village board agreed in 2009 on the skatepark's current site by the police station - but not decisively enough for the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee to start work with the tens of thousands of dollars it has raised. The committee lost a grant to that delay and could soon lose another for the same reason. It can't act without a location guaranteed by the village.

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Now the village board suggests moving the skatepark to the park at the corner of Ampersand Avenue and Broadway. The reason is good: Myriad RBM, the village's $70,000-a-year tenant at the former village office building, wants the skatepark space for extra parking because it plans to expand and add jobs.

Plus, that park's tennis court would be a good site for the skatepark: It's close to a couple of neighborhoods, it's close to stores with public bathrooms, it's quite visible from major streets, enough people use the park that there would be passive supervision, and it would provide added incentive for families with kids of varying ages to go to the park together.

Sure, it could be better - it would take away one of the community's four sets of public tennis courts - but it's as good as we're going to get.

Any member of the SkatePark Committee can explain in great detail the pros and cons of every site anyone's thought of over the last decade. These folks have done an incredible amount of research - above and beyond the call of community duty. People keep saying, "What about this site, or that site," but really, all the options have been studied and debated to death, much of it in the pages of the Enterprise. The SkatePark Committee has narrowed it down to three acceptable sites - the current one, the Ampersand park and William Morris Park, where the carousel is - and now's the time to narrow it further. We think William Morris Park would be too crowded with a skatepark, so we see two options.

If the village board picks the police station site, the committee will accept the town of North Elba's gift of its unused steel skatepark ramps. If the Ampersand park is chosen, they will instead raise extra money to build concrete ramps, which would be quieter for the neighbors.

The village board seems to be leaning toward Ampersand park, so we say, go for it - but really go for it, with commitment.

That would let North Elba keep its ramps and give the Lake Placid community one more chance to move its skatepark to land that isn't owned by the school district, where it falls prey to prohibitive insurance regulations.

 
 

 

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