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North Elba to give away skate park to Saranac Lake

September 28, 2012

The town of North Elba plans to give its skateboard park equipment to the village of Saranac Lake.

The town board voted unanimously Tuesday, Sept. 11 in Saranac Lake to begin the process of giving the equipment currently located in a fenced-in area behind the Shipman Youth Center to the village, so the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee can establish a permanent skateboard park on village land behind the Saranac Lake Police Department.

"I really think this is a good solution," town Councilman Bob Miller said.

"We're really pleased," Rich Shapiro, a member of the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee, told the Enterprise. "This is a major step forward for the kids in Saranac Lake. This means we'll have a working skateboard park probably by next spring."

The North Elba board has been working for months to keep the equipment in Lake Placid. Community members like Dan Leff, who invested time and money into the skateboard park several years ago, have been studying alternatives to giving away the equipment, but Miller said those efforts haven't produced results.

"I think we tried to be respectful of a guy who had an investment in this project, but we can't allow that to hold up kids using the equipment, and we can't allow that to hold up the volunteers that are involved in this thing that want to help kids," Miller said. "At some point we have to fish or cut bait."

Town Supervisor Roby Politi said he didn't have a problem with giving people time to find a solution, but he was also concerned about letting the equipment sit through another winter without being used.

"In my personal opinion, we've certainly gone out of our way to try and resolve a problem," Politi said.

Messages left for Leff hadn't been returned as of press time.

Miller discussed the possibility of leasing the property where the skateboard park is located from the Lake Placid Central School District with school board President Mary Dietrich. He said the district was advised by its attorney that the school could still be liable even if it leased the property to another entity like the town or the Shipman Youth Center.

"I just don't think that's going to work out," Miller said.

Politi said taxpayers would question the board if it had entered into a "fair market lease" for property where there still wouldn't be supervision. The town used to pay for a Shipman employee to monitor the park, but that led to decreased use. Then, with almost no one using the park, the town discontinued the funding for the employee.

Some people have asked why the hockey rink next to the Olympic Speedskating Oval, which is on school property, can be used without supervision and the skateboard park can't. The rink was donated to the town by the company that puts on the Lake Placid Ironman triathlon.

"Why would the school's insurance say, 'Hockey box good, skateboard park bad?'" Miller told the Enterprise. "That's out of the town's hands. ... (The hockey box) doesn't present issues with insurance. It's used by the kids. The skateboard park has insurance problems. It's not being used."

Miller said he asked Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee member Jon Vinograd how soon the group would want the equipment.

"He said it would be very helpful if we could make a decision as soon as possible so they can get the equipment removed, transported and then spend the winter designing how they were going to set it all up," Miller said.

"I did go down to the Saranac Lake site today, where it is proposed to be going, and after school there were about 20 kids down there," he added. "It seems to me to be an area where it may really be of use to kids."

And that's with little to skateboard on. Currently, the Saranac Lake park has a few moveable ramps and rails, and a street spine made of blacktop.

Lindy Ellis of the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee, Shapiro's wife, said there is still a lot of work to do, including moving the equipment, storing the ramps and pouring a concrete pad. Shapiro said the layout will likely be similar to the current set-up in Lake Placid.

Ellis said the committee will welcome input from skateboarders, too.

The SkatePark Committee has raised about $42,000 so far. That money will now go to the concrete pad and other site preparation work. Shapiro wasn't sure if that money would cover those costs, but he said there are some anonymous donors who may contribute.

"We think we'll be in good shape," he said. "(The donation of the equipment) will help us with future fundraising."

Doty noted that the town will have to donate the equipment to the village of Saranac Lake. Tuesday night's resolution to give the equipment was made pending approval by Saranac Lake trustees and other logistics involved in moving it. Saranac Lake village Mayor Clyde Rabideau couldn't be reached for comment on Wednesday.

"I think it's unfortunate, but I don't think the design was ever constructed in such a way that it would guarantee the future of (the park)," Politi said.

The equipment was purchased in 2007 with a state grant arranged by Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and North Elba's supervisor at the time, Shirley Seney. The original project also relied on private donations.

Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or



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