A group working to enhance the quality of life in the Plattsburgh area has announced an effort to gather public input for city beach development ideas.
Vision2Action is a group engaging the public on issues that affect the future of the Plattsburgh region. Forums have been held on the region’s transportation, education, arts and culture and tourism infrastructure. This week, the group partnered with the region’s community leaders to focus on the city beach. Several plans have been brought forth in the past to enhance or redevelop the stretch of sand along Lake Champlain, but no major development plans have moved forward.
Vision2Action members announced Monday a special, free one-day event to bring people to the beach. The regular weekday fee is $6.00, weekends cost $7.00. But on September 6th anyone can visit the beach at no charge. The caveat: Vision2Action and community leaders want beachgoers to discuss ideas for waterfront development.
Steering Committee Chair John Jablonski says “The region will be transformed if we make the right choices now in 2014-2015 around our greatest asset, which is our waterfront. That’s why we’re taking every step we can now to make sure that it’s not just a few people in a room who are making those decisions. We really want to bring out as many members of the public as we can and that’s why this big event on September 6th. We’re encouraging people to come out, experience what we already have here on the waterfront and imagine together what it could be in the next few decades. There literally will be people with clipboards who are recording these ideas. Those will become the parts of what will be the long-range comprehensive plan, not only for the city beach, but for all of the waterfront development that’s likely to happen here in the coming years and decades.”
Vision2Action is working on a beach and waterfront revitalization plan as part of the region’s Destination Master Plan. Jablonski explains that it is part of the overall plan. “This is part of the big effort that started with Vision2040. The idea is that if our community is to thrive in terms of its economy and the quality of life by the year 2040, we need to be making the right choices and the right investments now. So it’s about the city beach, but it’s also about the Saranac River, and it’s about the Ausable River and Ausable Point. We have so much waterfront here and the best way for us to develop it is to have a shared vision that involves the whole community.”
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett says it’s important to get public input. “Not long ago we had a waterfront revitalization symposium. We took a look at the fact that we have 26 miles of waterfront in the town. Vision2Action are able to bring the community piece and I hope everyone in the community is able to join us. We will be there. Our planning department and others will be there. We want to hear more from the community. What do you need? What do you want? How do you want us to develop these resources and guide the decision making?”
County Legislator and SUNY Plattsburgh Department of Economics and Finance Chair Colin Read says investing in the beach will enhance the region’s quality of life. “What I find really attractive is the potential to attract new residents, new individuals, to our community and new visitors who wouldn’t have otherwise come here or stayed as long. That’s the investment part of it. The investment part of it will then pay back to our communities not only in more jobs in the tourism and visitors’ sectors, but all kinds of other sectors because the people that service that sector are also paying property taxes and sales taxes, etc. So it turns out that we really need to look at these things not simply as a way to only cater to the people who are already here but a way to expand the economic level of activity for the entire county. And from that we should view this as an investment rather than just as another form of public spending.”
Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon notes there have been small progressive repairs and changes at the beach. “From the city’s standpoint we’re involved in an overall visioning grant for what we need to do with our lake front properties, and we have several. This is one more means of getting good community input. We’re really excited about the opportunity that brings to us. We hope to see as many people as we can here that day.”
To entice people to provide feedback, Vision2Action is sponsoring a raffle — and people must be present during the drawing. Free kayak rentals and other activities will be featured during the September 6th event.
The Plattsburgh City Beach is among the largest freshwater beaches in the country with over a mile of sandy beach and a nature trail.