Saratoga Springs to use grant to access lakefront
3.9-acre property was purchased in ’06 with big plans
SARATOGA SPRINGS Nearly two years after the city received notice it had been awarded a state grant, the money is available and officials plan to use some of it to open access to waterfront property it owns on Saratoga Lake.
The Department of Public Works is widening and paving a road that leads from Crescent Avenue down the hill to the lake and expects to be done in a month or less, said Mayor Scott Johnson. That will allow people with nonmotorized boats to access the lake.
“It really opens up a beautiful view of the lake,” Johnson said.
Workers also will check out existing bathrooms near the lake and get them ready for use.
A master plan for the 3.9-acre property that the city purchased in 2006 for $2 million also calls eventually for a swimming beach and a pier, but those things aren’t in immediate plans.
When the city bought the property with open space grant money, officials had big plans to turn the park into one of only two public-access points on the lake. But then the economic downturn hit.
City workers did cut grass and make parking areas on the top part of the park nearest the road and last fall demolished the old Waterfront Restaurant that used to sit on the property. But the waterfront itself hasn’t been accessible.
Now officials are getting back to those plans and aiming to open the waterfront up this summer, at least in a limited way.
“We’re focusing on redoing the access road from the street level down to the waterfront itself,” Johnson said. “[Taxpayers] paid for it, so they should be able to use it.”
The City Council on Tuesday amended the 2012 capital budget to show $400,000 available for the project, reflecting $200,000 from the state grant and $200,000 the city will give in matching funds, some of which will be in-kind services such as labor.
The state announced in 2010 that the city would receive the Environmental Protection Fund grant.
On Tuesday, the City Council authorized the mayor to apply for other grants. Johnson said he has his eye on a $400,000 matching state grant.
Johnson said he envisions having boat tours leave from the future pier and kiosks telling the history of the relationship between the city and Saratoga Lake, where regattas took place and steamers ferried people around.
Johnson still would like to build a small ambulance building on the property, as well, but the Republican acknowledges the Democrat-controlled council is unlikely to support that idea. His proposal to have a single-bay ambulance building on the property to serve the city’s Eastern Plateau has attracted criticism from people who say it’s a poor use of the parkland and potentially illegal because it’s not a recreational use.
Johnson said he believes it’s legal, and even appropriate, to have an ambulance stationed near an area where water sports are pursued.