TUPPER LAKE - A walk in the park Thursday afternoon highlighted the assets of the village's waterfront.
The sun glistened on Raquette Pond as people working on plans for the park talked with locals and wandered through the vast area, which includes about 27 acres across the Municipal Park, Flanders Park, the area that will soon be Little Logger Playground, the baseball field and other sports courts.
They talked about the current plans for a new gateway at the park's Mill Street entrance and the Little Logger Playground. They explained that those projects are part of a greater master plan for the entire park area, which the walk was meant to kick off.
Jim Abdella, from AEDA, talks about features of Tupper Lake’s Municipal Park as designer Meaghan Pierce and Tupper Lake resident Matt Kendall listen.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
That master planning process will include a feasibility study that will investigate the potential of creating a beach in the park.
Melissa McManus, the community's revitalization project coordinator, explained that the community went through some meetings on planning for the park in 2010, but the master planning process the crew is now embarking on will hopefully lead from dreaming about what could be to creating a path to it becoming a reality.
Having a plan in place will help projects get grant money, she said, and it will also help when things like state road projects come up, so the community can show the Department of Transportation its plans for the area and get it to follow suit.
The planning process would also likely set up options for private donations, she said. If someone wants to donate a park bench, the plan could give guidelines for what kind of bench would fit in with the scheme and the cost of such a donation.
McManus thanked the 10 or so people who showed up to the walk, saying her team is looking for ideas and concerns from the public.
"Your input is just essential," McManus said.
The team at the walk included McManus, Jim Abdallah from Architectural Engineering and Design Associates, Steven Tupu of the Terrain NYC landscape architecture firm, and Meaghan Pierce of Studio Prospect. Abdallah is taking on the project's engineering and local project management, while Tupu and Pierce's companies won a joint bid to work on the design and landscape architecture.
Tupu has been visiting the area for about six years, and Pierce has family roots at Big Wolf Pond, so both have local connections and were excited about an opportunity to do work in Tupper Lake.
"When the (request for proposals) came out, we just jumped on it," Tupu said. "It's really an amazing waterfront."
To beach or not to beach?
Part of the master planning process is to decide whether or not a beach will work anywhere on the Raquette Pond waterfront.
Much of the discussion Thursday centered around which areas would be better for a beach, but Tupper Lake resident Matt Kendall noted that there might only be one area that is physically appropriate for one.
The first step, said Jim Frenette Sr., is to decide whether or not there will be a beach. He supports the idea of creating one.
"We need a good beach here," Frenette said.
The park crew plans to survey the park and do things like test the wind speed and direction and water quality to see which areas of the park could be a good fit for a beach. They will also look at drainage issues, since many of the local culverts direct stormwater and run-off into the pond.
Pierce said it's important to discuss what the community is looking for in a beach, noting that what happens on a beach for toddlers is quite different from what happens on a beach for triathlons like Tupper Lake's Tinman.
Ron LaScala said it's important to have a beach that will be visible to people as they drive by. He talked about Long Lake's beach, with an elaborate floating dock right off the highway.
Pierce agreed, saying tourists can't help but stop there.
"Long Lake is great," she said.
McManus noted that the water is an important feature for the community to capitalize on.
"You have no bigger asset," McManus said. "This is it."
Playground and entryway
Abdallah said his company has a contract to finalize design plans for the playground and Mill Street entryway, with a design meant to mimic The Wild Center natural history museum on the other side of town. The entryway is set to include improved parking, including the addition of some handicap-accessible parking, bike racks and a new gateway.
It will also extend the current lighting scheme and walkways around the playground, which is designed take up about two-thirds of the area between Flanders Park and the skatepark and tennis courts on the other side. Abdallah said the playground will include different sections that are appropriate for different ages of children.
Construction of those improvements is out to bid now, with bids due Tuesday. Abdella said he hopes the bids come in within the project's budget and construction can begin. The project is now slated for completion is mid to late summer.
"It's been a long time coming," town Supervisor Roger Amell sighed.
McManus said that as a parallel to the park planning process, a fund called the Fund for Tupper Lake, set up through the Adirondack Community Trust, is paying to wire the park. It will set up a wireless Internet hotspot in the Tupper Lake Civic Center that will be meant to beam wi-fi throughout the park.
"So that's a huge selling point for Tupper Lake," McManus said.
Tupper Lake Events Coordinator Michelle Clement said that will be helpful for vendors in the various events she is working on for the summer like Woodsmen's Days and the TInman Triathlon.
Pierce, Tupu and Abdallah sought other ideas from the people on the walk.
"We're all ears," Tupu said.
People floated ideas like a bandshell or amphitheater, fishing docks, a dog park, picnic tables and fireplaces in various parts of the park.
Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said vandalism has been a problem there in the past, but the police department is working on a plan to install surveillance cameras to make it less of a problem in the future. McManus noted that more lighting at night may help with that, too.
McManus said she has heard input in the past that people want Flanders Park to be a more quiet, restful area, while the other parts are more active. She has also heard from community members that there should be more landscaping in the Municipal Park area. She noted there's a huge difference in the feel between the waterfront walkway lined with cedars, which is more intimate and private, and the wide-open park along Demars Boulevard.
"There needs to be landscaping," Casagrain agreed.
Several of the designers noted that one of the project's biggest challenges is that the park has so many user groups. McManus said the group has met with some of them, but they are still seeking out others to touch base with.